James Kobielus makes an important point
regarding master data management - its role in compliance. We know that large companies today generally have many different versions of master data scattered around their organizations: 11 different definitions of "product" on average for example, according to one survey from research firm Tower Group. This of course makes any business performance management question hard to answer: "how much of product X was sold last week" is tricky to discover if there are eleven systems that think they are the master source for information of products. However it may be worse than that: if you are having to produce some report for reasons of regulatory compliance, then such ambiguity may have serious consequences.
In the article James says that "without an unimpeachable official system of records, your lawyers will have to work twice as hard to prove your organization is complying with the letter of the law". Of course the lawyers won't be too troubled about that (all those juicy billlable hours) but business executives certainly need to consider the possible compliance implications of poor master data, as well as its consequences elsewhere.