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Master data refers to data units that are non-transactional, top level and relational business entities or elements that are joinable in observable ways. An organization may use master data on more than one platform or across a variety of software programs or technologies.
A clear description of master data includes customer data items, like IDs. This data type is considered master data, versus quantitative data related to a single transaction, customer ID or other data (such as addresses and phone numbers), which are continuously used by a business to analyze customer behavior, establish contacts or drive high-level research.
While data is becoming one of the greatest business assets, master data represents the most useful piece of that larger collection of information. The common interest in master data has spawned the term "master data management," which refers to efforts to control and use master data in specific ways.