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Operational Values and Survivorship in Reltio

By Terence Kirk posted 07-11-2021 08:24


In Reltio any attribute can have multiple values, including simple attributes; this is a key differentiator for Reltio. Each source can provide values for an attribute, and it’s even possible for a single source to provide multiple values for an attribute.

How does Reltio decide which attribute value to show in the UI or return in an API request when there is more than one to choose from? This is done using “survivorship rules”. The survivorship rules determine which value to use out of all the available values from each source. The value that gets selected is called the “Operational Value” (OV) - this is what gets displayed in the UI. 

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You can see how survivorship rules work by examining the “Sources” view of a profile, like the example below for a “Contact” entity type:

The attribute values section displays the values for a given attribute from all the sources, color coded by the source that provided them. 

Note that three different values have been provided for the last name, one by the “Finance” source (pink), another by the “Reltio” source (orange), and a third by a Data Tenant “DT:Train” (green). 

How does the system decide which one to use for the OV? The answer is the survivorship rules.  

Reltio provides a variety of survivorship rules that can be applied separately to each attribute as shown here: 

Recency means use the most recent value for the attribute, source means use the value from a particular source, aggregation means use all the available values. Consult the Reltio documentation for details of the available survivorship rules. 

In the Contact Last Name example the survivorship rule is Recency, so the selected value is the one that was provided most recently.

The value that is selected by the survivorship rule and that will be displayed by default in the UI and in an API request is called the Operational Value or OV, displayed on the left on the screen. 

The OV is not stored or persisted anywhere, instead it’s evaluated when the data is accessed. If the survivorship rule is changed, then the new survivorship rule will automatically supply the new OV when the data is retrieved.

This is a key differentiator for Reltio from traditional MDM systems: Firstly a single attribute can have multiple values, either from different sources or even from the same source; secondly there is no such thing as a persisted “golden record”, instead there is a set of attribute level survivorship rules that are evaluated at run time to select the operational value from the available attribute values.

Furthermore a set of survivorship rules can be grouped into a “Ruleset”, which can be tied to a user role. In this way the OVs can differ according to a user’s role, so someone in the Finance department will see OVs from the Finance system, whereas someone in the Sales department will see OVs from the CRM system.

In summary, survivorship rules:

  1. Are set individually for each attribute.
  2. Are evaluated dynamically at run time when data is retrieved. There is no “golden record” in Reltio.
  3. Have a variety of rule types e.g. recency,  source system, aggregation, frequency.
  4. Can be set for a user role e.g. a person in sales can have one set of OVs and a person in customer support can have a different set of OVs.

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