MDM, Assets, Locations, and the TARDIS

Henrik Liliendahl Sørensen, as usual, is facilitating excellent discussion around master data management (MDM) concepts via his blog.  Two of his recent posts, Multi-Entity MDM vs. Multi-Domain MDM and The Real Estate Domain, have both received great commentary.  So, in case you missed them, be sure to read those posts, and join in their comment discussions/debates.

A few of the concepts discussed and debated reminded me of the OCDQ Radio episode Demystifying Master Data Management, during which guest John Owens explained the three types of data (Transaction, Domain, Master), the four master data entities (Party, Product, Location, Asset), as well as, and perhaps the most important concept of all, the Party-Role Relationship, which is where we find many of the terms commonly used to describe the Party master data entity (e.g., Customer, Supplier, Employee).

Henrik’s second post touched on Location and Asset, which come up far less often in MDM discussions than Party and Product do, and arguably with understandably good reason.  This reminded me of the science fiction metaphor I used during my podcast with John, a metaphor I made in an attempt to help explain the difference and relationship between an Asset and a Location.

Location is often over-identified with postal address, which is actually just one means of referring to a location.  A location can also be referred to by its geographic coordinates, either absolute (e.g., latitude and longitude) or relative (e.g., 7 miles northeast of the intersection of Route 66 and Route 54).

Asset refers to a resource owned or controlled by an enterprise and capable of producing business value.  Assets are often over-identified with their location, especially real estate assets such as a manufacturing plant or an office building, since they are essentially immovable assets always at a particular location.

However, many assets are movable, such as the equipment used to manufacture products, or the technology used to support employee activities.  These assets are not always at a particular location (e.g., laptops and smartphones used by employees) and can also be dependent on other, non-co-located, sub-assets (e.g., replacement parts needed to repair broken equipment).

In Doctor Who, a brilliant British science fiction television program celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the TARDIS, which stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space, is the time machine and spaceship the Doctor and his companions travel in.

The TARDIS is arguably the Doctor’s most important asset, but its location changes frequently, both during and across episodes.

So, in MDM, we could say that Location is a time and relative dimension in space where we would currently find an Asset.


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