Master data management set to thrive in downturn

Gartner says the market for software that creates a master, or single view, of data will grow by almost 25 percent this year

Sales of master-data-management software will bring in $1.3bn this year, showing growth of 24.1 percent over past year, according to Gartner.

The predicted worldwide total for 2008 compares with $1bn (£700m) last year, the analyst firm said. Gartner attributed the better-than-average growth prediction to "the ongoing requirements for businesses to increase effectiveness, reduce costs and meet compliance requirements" amid a downturn in world economies.

Master-data management (MDM) software deals with the collection, aggregating, matching, consolidation and quality assurance of data, with the aim of ensuring consistency by giving a single view of all data across an entire organisation. A variety of tools can be used in conjunction with MDM, such as datawarehouses, file systems and data networks.

MDM as a concept has been in use for some time. One of its early mentions was in an explanatory article in the IBM DataBase magazine in 2005. However, as a concept, "it has been around for longer than that, between five and 10 years, perhaps", Chad Eschinger, a Gartner analyst, told ZDNet UK on Wednesday. "But these things come and go in fashion. While times were good, people did not pay much attention to MDM. Now they are looking more closely."

The reason for this, Eschinger said, was because MDM was for "organisations looking to reduce costs". To make MDM work, organisations need to "look at what is not working efficiently or may be broken".

As Gartner defines it, MDM can be a process that may be workflow-driven or transactional in nature, and is one in which business units and IT departments collaborate, cleanse, publish and protect common information assets that can be shared across an entire organisation.

Eschinger told ZDNet UK that MDM was not a simple process which provided a magic solution. "There is not necessarily an end to anything," he said. "It is a road."

"You will never get away from having to maintain data," he added.