A Business Intelligence project can often run into the sand because of data quality issues and tools like PowerPivot and Reporting Services will only highlight these problems back to the business,.  These quality issues aren’t simply about keying errors they relate to the reference data that is stored in multiple places in many systems.

An obvious example is the many versions of a customer that exist across these systems e.g. the marketing system have an address where they send out the catalogue, but this is different to the billing address in the finance system.  However while this may well need to be fixed, it isn’t killing the business in that bills are being paid by customers even if the odd catalogue is being mis-mailed.

Anyway my point is that this reference data exists in several systems, and fixing this in the data warehouse is OK for reporting but doesn’t resolve issues that can occur in production.  Also this kind of problem is a business process issue, rather than being of a technical nature. Having said that technology can certainly help and this is where Master Data Services in SQL Server 2008 R2 comes in.

The new release will provide a portal where end users can manage this reference data..

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At this point I would like to hand off to a real expert on the subject, Donald Farmer who I interviewed at SQL Bits a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve put the video on TechNet Edge so over to you Donald..

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If you want to know more, there is also part of the main SQL Server site dedicated to Master Data Services and when I found where all the sessions of SQL Bits have been posted to I will also let you know.