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Master data management and business intelligence: A…

With all the hoopla surrounding data-related technologies, it’s hard not to be persuaded to jump on the bandwagon. This rings true with the elevated status of data as this era’s ‘new oil’.

When it comes to data, the topics of master data management (MDM) and business intelligence (BI) often crop up in boardroom discussions down to team meetings. Although both of them are related, it’s crucial to understand the roles they play as separate entities and when combined together. With this understanding, you’ll realise that MDM and BI are a perfect match to maximise the benefits of your technology and data investments.

Master data management (MDM) is a technology-enabled process involving the activities of creating, organising, updating, and sharing master data via a central point of access. It consolidates and merges common master data attributes to form a single version of the truth.

Business intelligence (BI) is also a technology-enabled process, but it serves to surface and analyse data to derive actionable insights that inform your decision-making. Via BI, you can visualise and present data in various forms, e.g., detailed Excel spreadsheets, pixel-perfect reports, KPI-driven dashboards, and visual-friendly graphs and charts.

Master data management (MDM) deals with the back-end structure and unification of data while business intelligence (BI) handles the front-end presentation of data. Like yin and yang, MDM and BI complement each other to unearth the true value of your data.

Real-world use cases of Master Data Management (MDM) and Business Intelligence (BI)

While it’s true that their definitions and applications differ, the combined force of master data management (MDM) and business intelligence (BI) can propel your business to greater heights. Let’s examine real-world applications of this combo according to industries where companies enjoy cost savings, improved efficiency, and increased profitability.

Energy & Utilities

Power plant data comes from disparate sources like control systems, SCADA systems, energy management systems, equipment sensors, and plant historians. It’s vital to have a single, unified view of key master data objects like functional locations, equipment, and spares to obtain a complete picture of a plant. This is where master data management (MDM) comes in to deduplicate and merge these data sets to form a single version of the truth.

Once this is achieved, you can use your business intelligence (BI) tools to monitor and analyse the performance of all your plants. Through visual mediums like dashboards and alert reporting, you’ll have a better grasp of KPIs like plant availability, equipment reliability, and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) to assess respective plant performance and determine the next course of action. With a complete master data structure at the back-end, you can drill down to a specific functional location or equipment to get to the bottom of an anomaly.


With increasing customer expectations and mushrooming competition, it’s not enough for retail companies to fulfil orders, they need to provide memorable customer engagement at every touchpoint. Imagine calling customer service to follow up on an issue only to be asked to repeat all your details when you’ve given them in prior interactions. A bad customer service experience could go a long way in damaging a company’s reputation!

Through master data management (MDM), customer-facing departments like Sales, Marketing, and Services can access updated and consolidated customer data previously gathered from various sources like call centre interactions, web forms, and social media. Accurate customer segmentation can be performed based on these data sets.

Business intelligence (BI) takes this a step further by enabling your people to visualise and analyse the data according to different segmentation like demographics, psychographics, and buying patterns. This gives valuable insights into formulating targeted marketing campaigns, determining ways to engage prospects/customers, and even appeasing disgruntled customers. This allows your customer-facing personnel to be more efficient in converting prospects and establishing customer loyalty, hence boosting your sales.


One of the biggest challenges faced by manufacturing companies is in optimising their inventory and procurement. The first step towards optimisation is to have a consolidated view of supply chain data like material, asset, and supplier masters as well as eliminating duplicates.

What’s the best way to do this? You guessed it! By harmonising data via master data management (MDM), you’re well-positioned to classify and track your materials across warehouses, enabling you to optimise your inventory management. Through categorisation of spares according to criticality, you’re empowered to have a better inventory strategy such as increasing the stock of high-criticality spares and decreasing low-criticality ones.

In terms of spend management, business intelligence (BI) helps you gain better visibility into purchasing spend analysis. Through visualisation consisting of graphs and charts, you’ll gain a better understanding of your purchasing spend, and slice and dice your data according to material groups, criticality, or supplier categories whichever way you see fit. This way, you’re better equipped to strategise contract negotiations that drive down costs and mitigate supplier risks.

Self-service: The future of Business Intelligence

We’ve come to understand the role of BI in surfacing analysis using different mediums like reports, dashboards, and charts. But BI tools are traditionally known to be complex and involve a lot of coding.

So, it’s not uncommon for business users to involve IT in creating and modifying reports and dashboards. It’s easy to see the drawback of this process. What if you want to introduce additional filters and formulas into your reports? It causes bottlenecks in the back-and-forth interactions between the business and IT.

Guess what, we’re moving away from traditional BI!

More companies are shifting towards self-service BI with the proliferation of next-gen BI software in the market. Next-gen BI prioritises user-friendliness to democratise the use of BI to all levels of employees. One example is offering drag-and-drop functionalities where you can easily add tables and charts, define formulas and filters, and share analytics/reports with others. With low-code framework, you don’t need to have extensive IT/coding skills to create dashboards or reports.

BI tools that leverage AI and ML models can take historical and real-time data and derive future outcomes for planning purposes—essentially, predictive analytics. It helps you answer strategic questions like, “What’s the way forward for my business?”.

With these tools at their fingertips, your business people can explore data, uncover patterns and anomalies, answer ad hoc data questions independently, and collaborate with colleagues. This allows them to be more effective and productive in their job functions. In turn, this produces positive snowball effects on your organisation’s strategic goals.

MDO—Best of both worlds

Now that we’ve demystified MDM and BI, and understood the interplay between the two, it’s time you check out the right technology platform for it.

MDO is a master data management platform that does more than automate your end-to-end master data processes. Apart from deduplicating, harmonising, and enriching data to get a complete 360° view, it assures ongoing data quality through business validations and workflow-based approvals.

It comes with BI tools, having a data visualisation suite like dashboards, widgets, graphs, and charts. You’re all set to interpret data and harness it to your advantage such as tracking organisational KPIs, streamlining business processes, and detecting trends to discover new market ventures.

MDO is a low-code platform, so you and your colleagues can independently create BI analytics without the need to have extensive coding skills—self-service in its truest form!

With MDO, you can have the best of both worlds of master data management (MDM) and business intelligence (BI) to set your organisation apart from competitors and become a key player in your industry.

Author: Shigim Yusof