Bringing the Location to Multi-Domain MDM

When we talk about multi-domain Master Data Management (MDM) we often focus on the two dominant MDM domains being customer (or rather party) MDM and product (or maybe things) MDM.

The location domain is the third bigger domain within MDM. Location management can be more or less complex depending on the industry vertical we are looking at. In the utility and telco sectors location management is a big thing. Handling installations, assets and networks is typically supported by a Geographical Information System (GIS).

Master Data Management is much about supporting that different applications can have a unified view of the same core business entities. Therefore, in the utility and telco sectors a challenge is to bring the GIS application portfolio into the beat with other applications that also uses locations as explained in the post Sharing Big Location Reference Data.


The last couple of days I enjoyed taking part in the Nordic user conference for a leading GIS solution in the utility and telco sector. This solution is called Smallword.

It is good to see that at least one forward looking organization in the utility and telco sector is working with how location master data management can be shared between business functions and applications and aligned with party master data management and product master data management.

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8 thoughts on “Bringing the Location to Multi-Domain MDM

  1. Kate Koltunova 14th September 2014 / 01:02

    I guess that locations master data should be provided by country government. For example in Russia there is CLADR (CLassifiers of ADresses in Russia). What is specific about locations for telco?

    • Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 14th September 2014 / 09:32

      Kate, indeed, the trick is to match the official location registries with the internal master data. In utility and telco the locations are more granular when it comes to engineering. In telco that goes for the fixed line installations, equipment placements and network end points. Another usecase in telco is the ability to provide a wireless service at a certain point/address.

  2. John Owens 15th September 2014 / 01:33

    Excellent points that you make, Henrik.

    The other Master Entity that needs to be added to MDM is Asset (often called the ‘Forgotten Master Entity’). This is especially important for utilities and telcos, where it needs to be totally integrated to Location.

    However, points need to be deducted for your use of the awful UML term ‘Usecase’ instead of the simple term ‘use’. 🙂

    Kind regards

    • Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 15th September 2014 / 08:37

      Thanks for commenting John. Yes, asset is another domain I plan to do another post about as well.

      Maybe you are right about use-case. MDM use-cases is by the way a concept used by Gartner, the analyst firm, to categorize uses of MDM as operational and analytical.

      The original use-case concept is close to me as I participated in one of the first presentations by Ivar Jacobson, In Swedish. Användningsfall was the very original term I think.

      • FX Nicolas 15th September 2014 / 14:28

        Interesting discussion. When going beyond “Party/Products” domains, “Asset” combined with “Location” makes extremely interesting and challenging models, with things like “assets” moving accross locations or distributed on several locations (for example, a “phone cable” or a “road”).

        These cases, AFAIK, always call for highly flexible modeling. Is there any standard model that you apply in these cases?

      • John Owens 16th September 2014 / 06:21

        Hi Henrik

        Gartner are very wrong to employ the term ‘use case’ in any business context as it is a UML term that is part of systems development. They need to use a plain English term such as ‘use’, ‘function’, ‘process’, ‘procedure’, etc. Use case is a vanity term and has absolutely no valid meaning in business.


  3. Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen 15th September 2014 / 22:16

    Sure FX, flexibility is of great importance.

    Another sector where I have spent a lot of time and effort is within public transport, where we have some layers of assets being moving vehicles with equipment onboard – and parties as well in the roles of drivers and passengers.

    The location models are different in my experience. Public transport needs some form of location management. Then in utility, which is another sector where I have spent time, there are other requirements. Differences in reference data between countries is also a challenge.

  4. John Owens 17th September 2014 / 00:22

    @FX Although Asset / Location might seem to provide a challenge, a well designed Logical Data Model greatly simplifies what could become a hugely complex problem.

    One of the most common locations for an asset is attached to another (master) asset! So, once you know the location of the master asset, you know the location of all assets attached to it. This is particularly helpful when modelling and asset such as a plane or a train.

    Over the next few days I will do a post including some of the slides from my Multi-Dimensional MDM Course that some of these structures.


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