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Introduction to the Reltio Master Data Management Profile

By Joel Snipes posted 04-30-2021 11:10


Data managers fill a critical role between end users and database administrators. They understand both business uses for data and have the technical knowledge to form the raw data into something useful. This is done by matching data from different sources and forming relationships to model how different objects interact.  Reltio assists data managers in matching entities, modeling relationships, and tracking interactions.

It is important to understand the differences between crosswalks, entities, and profiles in Reltio. These terms are often used interchangeably when describing data but have discrete definitions. Below we will explore each in turn.


A crosswalk is a representation of something from the point of view of a particular data source. A collection of crosswalks make up an Entity. If you consider the use case of a hospital, they may track a given customer in a marketing system, billing system, and medical records system. Each system will have a record of the a client with some overlapping information (i.e. First name and Last name ) and some unique information (i.e. allergies and balance due). Each system's representation of the data would be considered a crosswalk in Reltio.

Crosswalks are identified by a pair of values: Source system name and the primary key from that source system. If multiple records from the same source system represent an individual, Source Table can be used to distinguish between them.

Crosswalks are brought together by match and merge rules to form Entities.


In Reltio the Entity is the view of the Individual distilled from the culmination of its crosswalks. When multiple crosswalks provide the same value for an attribute this is straight forward. If marketing and billing both agree that the individual’s first name is “Beverly” then “Beverly” will be the first name of the entity. However, if marketing has their first name as  “Bev” and billing has it as “Beverly”, which will win? This is solved by survivorship. 

Survivorship is the rules applied to the crosswalks values of an entity to determine the winners, or as they are known in Reltio, operational values. For example, you may use the source system survivorship rule on address to ensure that the value from billing always wins and use the aggregate survivorship rule on phone to ensure that all phone numbers are kept. To read more on what is possible with survivorship click here.

The image below shows the crosswalk view in Reltio. Each color represents a different crosswalk which together build the Entity profile of Lori Vargus. On the
right, under “Attribute Values” you can see the value supplied by each system. On the left under “Applied Operational Values” you can see the surviving values that
make up the Entity.


Before continuing on the profile we need to introduce relationships. Connections between entities form Relationships in Reltio. Relationships essentially store a pair of keys to two entities and an array of attributes describing the relationship. Similarly to entities they have crosswalks that can be matched and merged. 

A common example of a relationship in Reltio is “HasAddress”. This relationship is between an individual entity  and a location entity. It might contain attributes such as type with values like “Home”, “Office” or “P.O. Box”. 

Configuring those relationships and determining rules is worthy of its own post but if you want to know more, check out Reltio’s documentation here


Interactions are events relating to an entity that can be recorded and are transactional in nature. When an individual makes a purchase from an organization could be classified as an interaction and both entities would be added as members within the interaction. In Reltio interactions are never matched, merged, or updated. They are stand alone data types and immutable.


The profile is the complete picture of an entity along with it’s relationships and interactions linked together. Most of the day to day work from your organization’s analysts or other end users will be using data at the profile level. Many non-technical users will typically think of your organization’s data in relation to the profiles they see. To them, the profile is the data because the profile is what they use to do their job.  

But the profile is like a mosaic. It is one complete picture but it is made up of many individual pieces that are placed with care and purpose. The UI profile of an entity is designed in the Reltio console UI modeler. By default all attributes that are not hidden are shown, but a data manager must be intentional about which relationships and interactions are displayed on the profile. 

If you want to know more, or dive deep into creating new types and relationships, check out Reltio’s documentation or reach out to the product support team.

Learn More with the Reltio Community

The Reltio Community is a great place to learn more about how to use the Reltio products and connect with Master Data Management peers. Rely on the expertise of Reltio partners, customers and technical experts.