At Hub Solution Designs, we refer to the different major areas of master data as “domains”.
According to a survey by The Data Warehousing Institute in mid-2006, the domain most often defined in master data is the customer (74%), followed by products (54%) and financials (56%). Other domains include business partners (49%), employees (45%), locations (41%), sales contacts (25%), and physical assets (21%).
So clearly the Customer domain is a critical one, both in terms of its strategic importance at most companies and in its inherent challenges.
Whether you’re selling to businesses, consumers or both, the underlying data is constantly changing. Businesses start up, move around, change their names, are bought and sold, go bankrupt, etc. And consumers do some of those things too – they’re born, go through various life stages (some of which may represent revenue opportunities to your company) like getting married, buying a home, getting divorced, and so on.
But other domains can be just as challenging. If you’re a huge retailer and logistics company, your critical domain (or “domain of pain”) may be your suppliers. If you’re a huge financial services company, it may be a “securities master”.
For many companies who are consolidating multiple ERP systems down to one, they’re ALL pretty critical. It’s important to develop the foundational Data Governance, Data Stewardship and Data Quality skills and disciplines, just to make the transition from many ERP systems down to one more manageable and scalable. And for many of today’s acquisitive companies, being able to smoothly integrate the various types of master data from newly acquired companies is becoming (by necessity) a core competency.
So no matter what your “domain of pain” may be, there are lessons to be learned and solutions to be incorporated from Master Data Management and Data Governance.
Although it’s a fast growing area with a certain amount of confusion in the marketplace, as MDM gets closer to becoming a mainstream skill set for Fortune 500 IT organizations, I think we’ll start to see a lot of appreciation for the different styles of MDM, and the lessons and benefits that MDM can bring to the enterprise from a technology and a business perspective.
Stay tuned for some stories from the front lines (with the names changed to protect the parties involved, of course) on how our clients are applying the lessons and benefits of MDM in their businesses.