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Connecting Social Media and MDM, by Prashanta Chandramohan

Traditionally, Master Data Management (MDM) systems are implemented with certain common themes.

With customer MDM, organizations strive to assemble core information about customers, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, preferences, identifiers, and other demographic data. The process of aggregating this indispensable data about customers is crucial (yet challenging), and this endeavor helps in achieving an accurate 360-degree view of the customers.

Over the last few years, there has been significant advancement in the way we look at MDM. Today’s implementations have evolved to a great extent and typically include one or more of the following themes:

  • Multidomain MDM
  • Integration between Business Process Management (BPM) and MDM
  • MDM in the Cloud
  • Impact of Big Data on MDM

All these trends focus on going beyond just managing basic customer information. Using these, organizations can add more intelligence and agility around the master data they have, so that they can predict the moves they can make to enhance their profitability.

Social MDM, which is developing into a new trend, may be the most appropriate way to go about adding this additional intelligence.

The idea behind Social MDM is to connect the organization’s internal customer information with external data about these customers from social networks.

With hundreds of millions of people joining sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and so on, social media platforms have become extremely powerful tools in allowing business owners to interact with customers in ways that simply weren’t possible before.

In the age of social media, everyone has the potential to be heard. For example, let’s think about a “feedback and review” perspective. Many of us today are going online, checking out the profile of organizations selling products and services that we want, and seeing what our friends and colleagues on our social connections have to say about these companies.

What this means is that today’s organizations cannot afford to ignore the importance of social media unless they want to fuel their own demise. So there’s a very obvious and powerful connection between MDM and the customer data available on social platforms.

While a well established MDM system provides organizations with the ability to create exactly what their customer information looks like at any point in time, Social MDM helps in connecting these customer records with their real world activities. This connection in turn allows a closer look into detailed and real time information about customers, such as their likes, dislikes, questions, problems, opinions, where they are, who they are with etc.

By listening to this information, organizations can apply the right strategy in real time to make key decisions to improve their service to customers, and to offer customized, timely products and services.

Social MDM comes with variety of challenges, including:

  • Identification of true customers on different social platforms
  • Efficiently linking customer’s social profiles with the internal MDM profile
  • Extracting real time data from the social sites and turning it into useful information

In order to best serve customers and listen to them, it is essential to identify who are your customers on social media platforms. Although this sounds basic, it’s an essential step and has many challenges associated with it. Listening to what your customers are saying, engaging them and responding to their needs is only possible if you know how to link the true customers of the organizations stored in a master data repository with their profiles on social platforms.

This poses a definite challenge as we have to deal with challenges such as privacy of customers, misleading (fake) profiles, different avatars people use on social networks, numerous platforms where customers are active and inactive etc.

Just to give an example, a recent CNN Tech blog suggests that there are 83 million fake Facebook accounts.

Finding an efficient way to link the social profiles with the MDM system is a very important step and needs to be done in a way that allows easier integration of real time social data with customer data in the MDM system. One of the ways this can be achieved is by creating an extension to the core customer record in MDM where you can store key social information such as customer IDs and access tokens.

This information can then be used to invoke generic APIs provided by the social platforms. For example, Facebook’s Graph API does exactly this. It takes the user profile and access token to retrieve wall posts in real time. There are numerous ways to achieve this integration and the design of the solution depends on how this information is consumed by downstream applications such as a customer service dashboard.

Extracting real time updates from customer profiles on social platform is a critical aspect of social MDM. Today’s customers are highly social with a myriad of tools available that allow them to share their experiences with a particular organization with the entire world.

With the advancement in mobile devices and connectivity to the Web on the go, customers have multiple communication channels and social platforms for expressing their opinions.

What this means is that we are up against a huge amount of data that needs to be extracted, managed and analyzed. Although the big data tools available today can handle the quantity of data, what is more challenging is that this social data also contains “multiple versions of truth” as it’s gathered from different social platforms.

This is a huge challenge in itself and requires an innovative approach to deliver value.

MDM today is better poised than ever not only to provide accurate information about customer data, but to deliver broad, sustainable business impact by leveraging available social information. Although in its current form we have many more questions than answers regarding the Social MDM approach, recent articles and a new LinkedIn group are providing lots of insights and healthy discussions around this idea, which is promising.

There are a few challenges such as data privacy and misleading / fake profiles on social media platforms. As we get better at handling these issues , I strongly believe we will have a major winner here. Organizations that capitalize on Social MDM will reap big rewards as more and more people participate through social platforms.

Bottom line: Businesses that exploit Social Data outperform their competition, and MDM isn’t an exception.

About the Author

Prashanta Chandramohan is a Technical Solution Architect with extensive experience in implementing Master Data Management solutions. He has worked with several large enterprise customers around the globe and has delivered successful MDM-powered solutions. Prashanta’s experience spans across retail, financial, insurance, telecommunication, healthcare and automotive industries. He is the creator of www.mdmgeek.com, where he shares his insights on implementing successful MDM projects. You can follow him on Twitter at @MDMGeek or contact him via email at prashant@mdmgeek.com.

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  1. Connecting Social Media and MDM – MDM – A Geeks Point Of View - 02/26/2013

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