MDM 3D – Do You Have the Glasses Handy?

MDM 3D – Do You Have the Glasses Handy?

Yes, you read it correct “MDM 3D”. 3D is always a mesmerizing word for all ages. Unless a company like Apple comes up with an iTV (do not read it as Apple TV) with 3D capabilities, people would still barge into movie halls for 3D movies. But if you are an avid follower of such 3D movies, you would have noticed that there are two types of 3D movies. One is a ‘real 3D’ and the other is a ‘makeup 3D’. A real 3D movie is made as such and felt as such [imagine the Avatar]. The other 3D movie is cooked up in a post-production room. I do not want to list an example of this other one—I will leave it to you to guess. Let’s cut this story short and come back to the topic.

MDM 3D is real. Yes, you can add an extra ‘D’ (the time dimension) to the master entities with Informatica MDM. Master data can generally be considered as two dimensional with entity type and its attributes. Adding a new dimension to the master data would make the data evolve to ‘Multiple Versions of Truth’. But if you look closely at the individual slice of the entity cube, you would perceive the ‘Single/Best Version of Truth’, abiding rule number one of MDM.

A master entity would normally be generalized to possess a slowly changing dimension. A slowly changing dimension is specifically for the data which would normally remain static but would change slowly and unpredictably.  For example, let us assume a sales representative who has moved from one region to another in middle of the year. If this location change is not maintained with time dimension, then all the year-end business reports would get skewed because all of them would report the specific representative on his/her current location, ignoring his/her metrics on the prior location. Although such changes are infrequent, it is better to consider them while planning the MDM solution, if they are bound to happen.

How does Informatica MDM add the time dimension? To make it simple, it follows the “Type 2 of the slowly changing dimension” as described by Dr. Ralph Kimball in ‘The Data Warehouse Toolkit’. Kimball assigns type numbers to several techniques of the slowly changing dimension. Whenever a data change occurs (such as customer’s last name), each technique defined by the type numbers behave differently.

  • “Type 1” technique would simply replace the existing data with no history maintained.
  • “Type 2” would maintain a separate row for each change with effective period.
  • “Type 3” would add additional attributes on the same entity with the new attributes pertaining to the new data and period.

Informatica MDM implements this “Type 2” by assigning a separate row for each data change. This is the most common technique used across the industries, and it is the most flexible one too. Informatica MDM is just a like a ‘real 3D’ movie where the data is created with time dimension and not cooked-up in the user interface. “Type 2” technique is precisely used for this purpose. You would surely need a 3D glass to look at the data, the 3D glass being the effective period. In order to retrieve a particular data entity, you must classify the effective period on which you want the data. Based on the effective period you chose, the master data would be dynamically determined, thus showing the best version of truth from the multiple versions across multiple sources.

Adding the timeline dimension to the MDM should be decided before starting the MDM project. As part of the MDM installation, granularity of such time dimension can be chosen from ‘Year’ to ‘Seconds’. Once chosen, it cannot be changed, just like an already sliced data cannot be unsliced later. Once timeline is enabled in MDM, the administrator can pick and choose the individual entities that need to have time line enabled. A timeline enabled MDM does not necessarily have all of its entities timeline enabled. Informatica MDM abides by 12 golden rules of timeline management, the definition of which can be found in the MDM documentation. These rules imply the conditions on how MDM would behave in a particular scenario. For example, if a new record is loaded with the exact effective period from the same source, MDM would just replace the existing record (and not create a new slice).

To learn more about the timeline capabilities of Informatica MDM, you can start with this video:


  • Abhiram Sharma

    Hi Subbu,

    That’s really cool…. I followed these instructions and it was like boom… it
    worked well..

    Update for BO or XREF ? If the trust is less than what it is already
    have, then it will update XREF and not BO.

    By the way do you have any YouTube videos, would
    love to watch
    it. I would like to connect you on LinkedIn, great to
    have experts like you in my connection (In case, if you don’t have any issues).

    Please keep providing such valuable information.

    Thank you,