What is Data Mapping? - Example & Definition

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  • 0:03 Adding Information
  • 0:43 What Is Data Mapping?
  • 1:50 How Is Data Mapping Used?
  • 2:40 Examples
  • 3:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

In today's world, businesses constantly add to their information stores. In order to put data to good use, we need to make sense out of it, and that's where data mapping comes in. In this lesson, we'll take a look at data mapping, what it is, what it is used for, and some examples.

Adding Information

In business, information requirements change, and with it, the demand for new and varied information sources. If your favorite coffee chain adds a new coffee flavor or muffin type, would they not generate information on those items? If a hardware manufacturer adds a new tool to their line, would they not collect information on it? And if a fashion chain introduces a new clothing item in their spring collection, would they not gather information on it? Of course they would - it only makes sense. But is it a simple matter to insert and use this new information? Well, it can be, and there are a number of techniques they can use to accomplish this. One of the most important is data mapping.

What Is Data Mapping?

In its simplest form, data mapping is about relationships. In particular, it is the process of specifying how one information set relates, or maps, to another. Consider an information set that includes a list of people and their contact information. The list contains name, address, city, province or state, and zip or postal code for each person. Also consider a second information set that includes a list of people and their music preferences. This list includes listener, artist, album name, and song name for each listener. The lists are self-contained, somewhat related, but distinct.

Suppose that you wanted to create a mailing list of people who like a particular artist. You can't easily get this information because there is no direct way to relate one information set to the other. The solution is to create a mapping between the name in the first information set and the listener in the second information set. The specification of the relationship is called a data mapping. From there, you simply search the related or combined information set for all listeners in the list that like that particular artist. This gives you the corresponding mailing addresses.

How Is Data Mapping Used?

Data mapping can be used for a number of things, but they fall into two main categories: migration and integration.

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