Skip to content
A lock, key, and loading symbol in front of a file folder with papers coming out, for a blog about master data management.

The Ultimate Guide to Master Data Management

Perri Robinson

Apr 15, 2024

Love used to make the world go ‘round. But today, that’s data’s job. Companies rely on data to learn more about markets and customers, make business decisions, and stay competitive in their industries.

Companies need a master data management (MDM) strategy to keep all of that information organized, but that's easier said than done. IDC estimates the amount of data created in the next three years will equal the amount of data created in the last 30 years. It will soon outgrow storage capacity. Enterprise data, in particular, is growing at a breakneck pace. That makes it harder to organize and control.

Here's another layer of complexity. Gartner estimates that businesses lose an average of $15 million per year due to poor data quality. Data management is a challenge we can’t afford to ignore. Overcoming it starts with getting a firmer grip on MDM. 

In this post, we’ll dive into the basics of MDM and how it’s used. We'll also share tips for centralizing your MDM strategy.

Table of Contents:

What is master data?

Master data is defined as being a single source of truth. It is a consistent, uniform, reliable set of data that provides context to an enterprise. Think of a master key. Most keys can unlock one door, but a master key offers unfettered access throughout an entire facility.

For example, master data is the information that supports transactional data, which covers business processes like sales and shipping. It includes data about business entities, events, processes, and more. Types of master data include, but are not limited to:

  • Personal data
  • Reference data
  • Shipping and location data
  • Customer journey data
  • Sales team data

The information you rely on to drive your business? That's master data.

What is master data management?

Master data management, or MDM, integrates data into a predictable, usable, organized format, giving businesses a single point of reference. Business and IT users work together to ensure that an organization's data is:

  • Uniform
  • Accurate
  • Consistent
  • Accountable

Every organization has different preferences and strategies for managing a database. But all organizations need a centralized, visual hub that lets business users analyze and interpret big data in real time.

Master Data Management Examples

There are many different kinds of MDM, but some of the most common ones include the following:

Product Master Data Management

Product MDM manages information related to products and services. This can include master data related to everything from categorization and inventory to product development and support. 

Customer Master Data Management

This MDM encompasses master data related to your customers and users. This can include managing sensitive personal information like names, addresses, purchase histories, customer profiles, and other business events involving customers. 

Asset Master Data Management

As the name implies, this MDM has to do with all of the assets — fixed and current, tangible and intangible — that play a part in your business operations. Some examples of data involved in asset MDM include valuation, depreciation, locations, and contract terms.

What are some master data management benefits?

To help explain the benefits of MDM, let's take a look at a handful of use cases in more depth.

Meltwaters Master Data Management

Real-time Performance Tracking

MDM helps you present complex information with cohesive and interactive visual dashboards. Data management solutions often help you create unlimited, customized screens or dashboards. With these dashboards, you can see an overview of data and drill down into insights, if needed. Data points appear in real-time, and visualizations automatically update in response to data changes.

This lets users quickly access critical insights and signals for:

  • Dynamic situational awareness
  • In-meeting answers
  • Performance tracking
  • Smarter decision-making

Real-time updates in centralized data management solutions ensure accurate metrics and KPIs.

Most MDM tools have link-sharing functions that let executives share:

  • Real-time insights
  • Metrics
  • Visualizations
  • Personalized comments

You can manage and share all this with anyone, from any device, anywhere in the world. Your team will always be in the know. They can pivot strategies to ensure your brand remains relevant and competitive based on real-time data analytics.

Tip: Consider learning more about image recognition and using image recognition software to feed your dataset.

Unified Data Sources

Centralized data analysis tools can gather data from:

  • Your own applications
  • Third-party business systems
  • Online news
  • Social media conversations
  • Job postings
  • Financial filings
  • Patent filings
  • Product reviews, and more.

With the right tools, data combines to visualize the full story of your brand, your competitive position, your customer experience, and audience segmentation

Customer data management solutions and customer relationship management (CRM) systems are often customizable. You can configure them for a variety of use cases across business functions.

Business-Critical, Actionable Insights

Critical data shouldn't exist in data silos. If you treat it like it does, you run the risk of studying vanity numbers. Since data doesn’t exist in isolation, neither should teams. MDM unifies information to give you access to the full picture.

For example, insights found via media monitoring matter a lot to martech professionals. But this data can also inform core business decisions beyond brand management, such as:

By combining first-party and third-party data sources, you can better analyze your position, competition, and consumers. You can eliminate blind spots and identify developing threats and opportunities.

What is master data management strategy?

MDM strategy is the foundation for your MDM program's success. Without an enterprise-wide set of data quality standards and principles, no organization can have a clear, single source of truth for its operations.

First and foremost, MDM strategies are developed based on a business's goals and targets. They optimize the data stewardship and data governance systems currently in place or completely overhaul them, often using data management platforms (DMP).

Some elements of your MDM strategy may include plans around:

  • Data integration, merging siloed, critical data into an all-in-one source
  • Data migration, moving critical data from different channels to an all-in-one MDM platform
  • Data governance, to standardize management processes across touchpoints and enable high-quality data collection
  • Ownership, to establish the stakeholders and managers responsible for master data and MDM strategy

Having input from the right decision-makers and stakeholders will ensure a strategy that works for everyone.

Choosing a Master Data Management Framework

A data dashboard featuring a bar graph, pie chart, world map, and other icons.

Choosing your MDM system's framework is an essential part of an effective MDM strategy. MDM frameworks vary based on goals, processes, and needs, but they generally fall into one of three types:

  • Repository, a centralized storage for all master data
  • Registry, a storage of data that points to where master data is stored
  • Hybrid, a combination of repository and registry frameworks

Organizations need to consider factors like data collection processes and update frequency when choosing an MDM framework. In general, repository frameworks are best for enterprises looking to optimize workflows and eliminate legwork using all-in-one solutions.

Following Master Data Management Best Practices

No MDM strategy is complete without a clear set of best practices to go hand in hand with an MDM framework.

Simply put, MDM best practices are the recommendations, guidelines, techniques, and methods that govern how MDM solutions are implemented, managed, and used. Data stewards and managers develop best practices based on past experience and observed patterns.

With best practices, MDM strategies and systems can leverage collected organizational knowledge to ensure future success.

How can master data management solutions support my organization?

two people looking at a screen for data analysis

Countless global brands use MDM software for many use cases. Some examples include:

  • Visualizing complex customer data to enhance data-driven decision making
  • Connecting the dots between disparate data types and channels
  • Spotting trends and patterns
  • Aligning key business drivers
  • Streamlining reporting
  • Gaining unprecedented cross-department insights that can help future-proof the organization

What master data management tools are out there?

Data analysis was traditionally something that kept professionals up at night, but thanks to advances in technology, there’s a plethora of MDM tools out there that take the headache of centralized data analysis away — one of them being Meltwater Display which is part of the Meltwater Enterprise Suite.

How can Meltwater help with master data management?

Meltwater Display, our MDM solution, integrates data from Salesforce, Zendesk, and a variety of web analytics sources right alongside our media intelligence data. You can sleep well knowing you have a complete 360° view of your brand and business.

With Display, you can create flexible and dynamic visualizations that tell real-time stories of the metrics and KPIs that matter most to your business — with added context and insight. Designed to transform the news and social content your PR and marketing teams receive into usable tools, this MDM solution can be used across organizations to drive business success.

By now, you should have a better idea of what MDM is all about and how it can benefit your business. As with most things, it’s easier to show than tell. Fill out the form below for a demo of Meltwater's MDM solutions.