In the context of Enterprise Data Integration, data records (such as contacts, companies, contracts, etc.) in enterprise systems (such as CRM system, ERP system, marketing automation application, etc.) are organized in modules. These usually adhere to a relational database schema. Thus, in simple terms, modules usually represent tables in relational databases.

The DataEngine is also organized in modules, which follow a relational schema. You can create as many modules as you like in the DataEngine and relate them to each other in any way you like.

The word entity is often used in the same context. The terms module and entity are usually used synonymously. Entity describes a clearly identifiable object and this often means the content object of a module, such as a contact (contact entity). Modules thus contain entities and further associated functionalities (editing, sending, displaying, filtering of entities, etc.).

Relational schemes

To introduce you to the idea of modules, we will illustrate one of the most common relational data structures in the enterprise domain: contacts and companies. We use a very reduced example with minimal fields – for a better overview. In an enterprise system, like a CRM system, contacts and companies are stored between other related data. However, they are generally the main entities. Let’s first look at the contact module (contains the contact entity).

Module: Contacts

Normally, of course, the contact module contains much more information about a contact, such as last name, phone number, email address, assigned sales person, etc.

ID Name Account
1 John SAP AG
2 Jane HubSpot, Inc.
3 Mary SAP AG

Module: Accounts

Normally, of course, the company module contains much more information about a company, such as address, billing address, board of directors or management, industry, sales etc.

ID Name
B HubSpot, Inc.

The Contacts and Companies modules are related to each other. Each contact is assigned to a company. For example, John is associated with SAP AG, Jane with HubSpot, Inc. However, multiple contacts can be associated with one company. For example, both John and Mary are associated with SAP AG. Thus, either one or many contacts are related to a company.

The relation between contacts and firms is thus called a 1:n relation.

The most common relations between entities are: 1:1, 1:n, n:m

For the relation betweem the records of the two modules it needs a relation table:

Relation table

Contact_ID Account_ID
1 A
2 B
3 A

The company with ID A (SAP AG) can be related to the contact with ID 1 (John) via the relation table. As already described, it is a 1:n relation table. To describe relations between entities, ERMs (Entity-Relationship-Models) are used. A reduced and simplified ERM of the case described above can be found below.

Simple ERM of contacts and accounts
The entity relation model (ERM) shows the relation between contacts and accounts. They have an 1:n-relation.

Further articles