Sunday, May 26, 2013

MDM and map projection | LinkedIn Group: MDM - Master Data Management

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My comment

Surprisingly many organizations have not realized yet that they are part of a global economy. At least those that have a Web presence should consider that they have an audience (and maybe even clients) outside of their geographical, political and cultural area (usually their country).

On a daily basis, we can observe that Web publications, even those of internationally renowned businesses, show a lack of awareness and sensibility for their foreign visitors. A simple example is the date format:

Numerous organizations continue to use their "local" way of displaying a date like "02/04/2012" which leaves their audience second guessing if this is "February 4, 2012" or "April 2, 2012" (the latter one is the way most Europeans will interpret it). With all due respect to cultural identity and geographical habits, the Web is a worldwide forum, and time-related information such as a date needs to be displayed in a non-ambiguous manner.

My thoughts regarding MDM (certainly not exhaustive, but a start):
  • Think as a cosmopolitan, make the world your universe.
  • Make sure that the descriptors that comprise an address identify the place uniquely worldwide, i.e. the foreign post service can deliver successfully. (The use of a geographic coordinate system based on longitude and latitude in addition to the postal address system is already in discussion.)
  • Apply international standards. If there is no globally accepted standard, the minimum "standard" is non-ambiguity. In the above example, a date should/could be comprised of using two digits for the day, (at least) three letters for the month and 4 digits for the year. So depending on the cultural background, personal taste etc. the date could be displayed as "4. Feb 2012", "Feb 4, 2012" and even as "4 2012 Feb" and will not leave any room for interpretation.
  • Mention the unit system, e.g. a temperature of "40 degrees" can be either very warm (if related to "degrees Celsius (Centigrade)") or pretty cold if related to "degrees Fahrenheit"; same of course applicable to length, weight etc. Certainly the metric system is recommended.
Also, avoid derived data as part of MDM: the age of a person is not Master Data, the birth date is. (The Mercator projection coordinates of the outline of Greenland are not Master Data, the coordinates in longitude and latitude are.)

With the above suggestions, MDM should have a solid basis - until we conquer other planets or will be victim of a "merger" after being invaded from a distant galaxy...