Often we use the who, what and where terms in defining master data opposite to transaction data, like saying:
- Transaction data accurately identifies who, what, where and when and…
- Master data accurately describes who, what and where
Who is easily related to our business partners, what to the products we sell, buy and use – where is the locations of the events.
In some industries when is also easily related to master data entities like in public transportation a time table valid for a given period. Also a fiscal year in financial reporting belongs to the when side of things.
But when is also a factor in improving and preventing data quality related to our business partners, products and locations and assigned categories because the description of these entities do change over time.
This fact is named as “slowly changing dimensions” when building data warehouses and attempting to make sense of data with business intelligence.
But also in matching, deduplication and identity resolution the “when” dimension matters. Having data with the finest actuality doesn’t necessary lead to a good match as you may compare with data not having the same actuality. Here history tracking is a solution by storing former names, addresses, phones, e-mail addresses, descriptions, roles and relations.
My guess is that the future will bring public accessible reference data in the cloud describing our master data entities with a rich complexity including the when – the time – dimension and capable matching environments around.