The following first appeared in an article I wrote for DM Review, “Clean, Accurate and Synchronized: Overcoming Master Data Management Challenges,” which was published in its February 15 Special Report on Customer Data Integration.
In today’s complex enterprises, companies need to put an organization and processes in place, supported by the appropriate technology and trusted external content, to manage critical master data across the enterprise in order to increase revenue, reduce costs and improve compliance.
This holistic combination of organization, process, technology and information is referred to as Master Data Management (MDM), and these techniques and approaches, when applied to the “customer” domain within the enterprise, are known as Customer Data Integration (CDI).
Defining Master Data Management
MDM is a set of disciplines and processes for ensuring the accuracy, completeness, timeliness and consistency of the most important types (or domains) of reference data in the enterprise – across different applications, systems and databases, and across multiple business processes, functional areas, organizations, geographies and channels.
Some critical MDM capabilities include data quality, identity management, data enrichment, grouping, synchronization and process management.
Data quality is critical to ensure that only accurate, completely, timely and consistent data is being synchronized across the enterprise.
Identity management serves three important and related functions:
- recognize an organization or person (and whether they’re a prospect or an existing customer) regardless of which channel (call center, web store, etc.) they use to interact with you,
- validate identity so you’re confident people are who they say they are, and
- prevent duplicates, so you avoid adding a new record unless it’s “truly” new.
Data enrichment brings in external information on an organization or person, telling you valuable things you didn’t already know.
Grouping links organizations and persons in useful ways, typically in corporate hierarchies when dealing with businesses and households when dealing with consumers.
Synchronization and process management (usually through middleware and business process management software) allow you to not only move information from Point A to Point B in the enterprise, but also to do more sophisticated things than simply move information. You can have processes that are long running, tightly monitored and controlled, and span multiple applications and even enterprises.
Without a systematic way to manage critical master data, collaboration across the enterprise, between the diverse IT systems and the various business functions, can be difficult and costly. But, as Master Data Management becomes more widespread, organizations are starting to figure out how to build robust MDM solutions, using a combination of off-the-shelf hubs, middleware and process management tools, plus data quality software, web services, Service-Oriented Architecture and custom components.
Evolving this architecture will prove critical in the future as organizations need better information, increased agility, more efficient processes and less costly compliance to compete in today’s increasingly “flat” and competitive business environment.