Reference Data Management (RDM)

Reference Data Management allows you to ensure data governance and operational excellence.


In the world of data management, reference data is the data that is found in what are typically called type fields which appear in records within transactional systems. This data is usually quite static in nature (that changes rarely) and thus is known as Reference Data.

  • Gender codes
  • State codes
  • Country codes
  • Specialty codes
  • Account types
  • SIC codes
  • Medical codes

RDM is a product available on the Reltio Connected Customer 360 platform that enables you to define and maintain reference data for your MDM tenants and your enterprise in general. Within RDM, each of the above examples is referred to as a Lookup Type.

RDM is used to control drop-down lists within MDM tenants, transcode reference data written into MDM records from source systems, and also transcode reference data as it travels from one application to another within your application landscape.

Similar to an MDM tenant, RDM is provisioned as a tenant but referred to as an RDM tenant. The design and purpose of RDM are to store reference data and reply to transcoding requests. In typical use cases, your MDM tenants subscribe to one or more of your RDM tenants to request code translations. Depending on how RDM is licensed by your organization, other applications in your enterprise may make calls to the RDM tenant for those services as well.

How to use Lookup Types and Canonical Values

In a typical application landscape, various systems will each have their own set of values they use for common semantic ideas. For example, Gender is a common attribute across many systems, but the value representing females in system A might be 01; in system B it can be F, and in system C, it can be CD_Female. If your MDM tenant receives data from these three systems, without the aid of RDM, three different values might accumulate within the gender attribute of a merged record. Of these three values, any one of them may appear for the Gender field in Hub. And in this unconformed state, queries become challenging because all three values must be queried to find records representing females. Also, a search facet based on Gender will display all three values, which again is challenging and undesirable.

Instead, RDM allows you to define a Lookup Type called Gender that can be used to transcode the source values into a single Canonical value. Once you create a Lookup Type, within it, you then define Canonical Rows, each one specifying a Canonical value you wish to standardize. This value is then associated with each of the values from various source systems. In this example, you might create a Canonical Row that represents the female Gender and has a canonical value of Female. You can then and associate this value with the values of 01, F and CD_Female being provided by the three source systems A, B, and C respectively. The following image explains the usage of lookup types and canonical values.

The value you see versus the value that is stored

It is important to note that transcoding occurs on-the-fly. When the value of 01 is posted to the gender attribute of an MDM tenant record from a source system, it is the raw value 01 that is stored in the record. If you have set up a canonical row in RDM for Gender and set the canonical value to Female, then in every screen of the Hub and in every return of an API call for the record, 01 will never appear. The value will always be transcoded on-the-fly to the canonical code of Female. This is also applicable for indexing. Therefore, a search facet based on Gender will display the value of female. If the gender attribute in the MDM configuration is linked to the Gender Lookup Type, then the canonical values appear as part of a drop-down list for the attribute in Hub.

Creating New Lookups and Canonical Rows

You can create new Lookups and Canonical rows via the RDM UI or via the RDM API.

Note: The maximum number of RDM lookup values that can be displayed in the drop-down list for an attribute in the MDM UI is 50.

The following video explains the relationship between an RDM Lookup Type and a drop-down list for an attribute in the MDM UI, and how the items in the list are influenced by the value and code of the Lookup items:

Video - Explaining the Parenthetical Display

Using the RDM API to Request Transcoding

Each time an MDM tenant needs to display for example a specific Gender on the screen or provide it within the return of a record, it will make a transcoding request to RDM. You can do the same using a REST client such as Postman. Here is a sample request and response.

Transcoding Request

The following is a sample request to RDM:

   "values": {
     "rdm/lookupTypes/GENDER1": [
         "value": "female",
         "source": "AMS"


       "values": {
           "rdm/lookupTypes/GENDER1": [
                   "type": "rdm/lookupTypes/GENDER1",
                   "code": "FEMALE",
                   "value": "F",
                   "source": "rdm/sources/AMS",
                   "attributes": [],
                   "success": true
The response provides information about:
  • The Look type which is GENDER1.
  • The canonical value returned by RDM which is F because RDM transcoded the value of female from source AMS to the canonical value of F.

The MDM Cache

When an MDM tenant makes transcoding requests to RDM, they are made against a low-latency, high throughput cache and not against the RDM tenant itself. The cache is updated every 10 minutes automatically from the RDM tenant. Therefore, when you make changes in RDM and save your work, it may take up to 10 minutes to see the results of those changes in the Hub. However, API calls made to the RDM API Endpoint fetch data directly from the RDM tenant and do not involve the cache.

New Roles and Permissions

The following roles and permissions are visible in the User Management application:




  • rdm:data.changerequests.personal
  • rdm:data.changerequests
However, the corresponding functionality to use these roles and permissions will be available in an upcoming release.