We’ll resume the discussion on simplifying an MDM initiative down to its two core elements.
On enrichment with external or “third party” content, things tend to go two different ways here. Either your industry and company’s requirements require a large number of external source systems (30 or more is not uncommon), or your situation will require no more than 1 or 2.
Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) is the largest and best known global provider of information on businesses, and Acxiom covers U.S. consumer information very well. But ask business people across different functional areas in your company; they can tell you what external providers they already use or definitely want to use.
Don’t postpone this step, however. It’s a rare enterprise MDM initiative that doesn’t need to work with ANY external information providers. And they can be invaluable in giving you non-obvious information about your customers, products, suppliers, etc. In other words, you “don’t know what you don’t know”. But a third party company that specializes in that area can help you get there.
So we can’t eliminate that one, but it probably shouldn’t drive your overall direction, since most MDM Hubs already connect to most popular information providers, or will build your favorite provider into their product as part of your implementation.
So we’re down to the core two components: the MDM Hub itself and data quality functionality. It’s possible the MDM Hub will have enough data quality functionality built-in to meet your requirements. Keep a few things in mind though – first, your data is worse than you realize.
Only if you’ve already done a pretty thorough survey of your important source systems (and then done a data profiling screen of each source system) can you feel reasonably comfortable of the data quality level you’re dealing with.
The good news is that the major data quality products are pretty mature & stable, and Gartner’s most recent “Magic Quadrant” for data quality vendors does a pretty good job identifying the stronger & weaker players.
The bad news is that you probably will need a separate data quality product, and the widespread software industry consolidation of the past few years has not spared this area, so we’ve seen products getting bought by mid-sized companies getting bought by giant companies.
So this is one area you should plan on looking at really carefully. Figure out what your data quality requirements are (separately from your overall MDM requirements), and research & evaluate which tools best fit your requirements.
Because “garbage in, garbage out” still applies with a vengeance, and the worst thing you can do is deliver an MDM initiative and Hub with bad data in it.
Senior executives who funded the project will turn up their nose at the data you’ve delivered, and your project leader will have a whole lot of ‘splaining to do.
So that means that out of our initial five areas, we’ve really narrowed it down to the two critical ones that are going to drive your success: data quality and the MDM Hub itself.
Part 1 and Part 2 together are getting pretty long, so we’ll have to cover evaluating & selecting data quality tools and MDM Hubs in a future article.
Please let us know what you think in a comment – we’re always interested in what our readers are doing in the real world, and hearing where we can improve.