The Hub Designs MDM Think Tank was briefed recently by Orchestra Networks on its MDM hub, EBX5.
by Julie Hunt and Dan Power
In late 2011, Forrester Analyst Rob Karel took a look at MDM over the past year and where it might be going in 2012:
Multidomain MDM hit its stride. User interest in multidomain MDM strategies has finally caught up with vendors’ product capabilities and messaging. In Forrester’s MDM Survey, 47% responded that the scope of their MDM programs include more than two data domains to master, while another 9% are focused on dual-domain solutions (e.g. customer and product).
The Hub Designs MDM Think Tank recently held a briefing with pure play MDM vendor Orchestra Networks regarding its EBX5 offering for multidomain MDM. CEO Christophe Barriolade joined from Paris, along with Conrad Chuang, Senior Product Marketing Manager based in Boston. Orchestra Networks does indeed seem to be hitting its stride.
Founded in 2000, Orchestra Networks has a strong presence in Europe, and a growing one in North America. Finance and Banking are distinct industry focuses, although Orchestra has a broad customer base across multiple industries. Gartner recently published a research note that segmented and rated MDM vendors by domain — Orchestra was the only vendor to score a Good rating in the finance, human capital and product domains.
Business-IT Partnership for MDM and Data Governance
One of the differentiators for the Orchestra multidomain MDM offering is a deliberate focus on business user accessibility to a broad portion of the EBX5 capabilities. Christophe clarified what Orchestra considers a “business user” — it’s not limited to data and business analysts, or even power business users. Orchestra wants to provide value to line-of-business personnel who have expertise for how data is used in business processes and need to be involved in MDM and data governance functions. Orchestra is also providing functionality for executives who want to work with various views including hierarchies, and want them delivered on their iPads or other mobile devices.
Embodying the Orchestra vision of “designed for business users”, EBX5 offers:
- One single solution across the master data life cycle (“everything in one box”) with no additional modules that need to be purchased
- Model-driven approach based on semantic modeling
- Rapid prototyping
- Completely browser-based (any and all)
- Usable on mobile devices such as iPad and Android phone – same look and feel on mobile devices as on desktops, for a seamless user experience
- Multiple views of reference data for different business needs
EBX5 – Core Capabilities
Modeling – EBX5 doesn’t provide any pre-built models. Instead it relies on semantic modeling, which allows users to define their own business rules and to model the reality of their business needs. Orchestra asserts that semantic modeling is a better fit for multidomain MDM. Through semantic modeling (“what you model is what you get”), business users can be part of the multidomain implementation from the beginning. This also encourages a usage pattern where organizations start small and then grow over time.
The Authoring user interface is generated dynamically from the data model. When the model changes, screens don’t have to be modified. Built-in workflow capabilities support collaboration across the enterprise both for Authoring and Data Governance functions. The built-in workflow eliminates the need for external BPM platforms, which are often complex, and keeps all functionality as a single solution.
The multi-language capabilities for managed data are extensive, allowing any data set to be managed in different languages, including double-byte Asian languages. This eliminates the need to create a new product record for every different language in which a product is marketed and sold. EBX5 also has built-in data quality capabilities, to enforce business rules at the time of data entry, and real-time matching and data stewardship capabilities.
Data Governance Collaborative Workflow – EBX5 enables the configuration of data governance processes on top of data models and data sets. With collaborative workflow connecting different roles (and domains) across the enterprise, all appropriate users have access to data governance functions. One current Orchestra customer has given 20,000 employees access to the EBX-based workflows, master data and hierarchies.
Timeline – EBX5 provides for collaboration around past, current and future versions of the master data. It maintains a full record-level history of the master data in the UI or directly in native SQL. Timeline capabilities help with compliance, reporting requirements, and understanding the impact of future changes to the business. Through Data Spaces, users can work with future versions, compare and merge Data Spaces with three-way conflict resolution, compare points of time, and perform roll-backs.
Integrations – EBX5 provides functionality for batch and real-time integration modes, and utilizes web services as part of the process. Distributed Data Delivery is accomplished with D3 capabilities that enable geographical federation and clustering via sophisticated synchronization. (Middleware is required to coordinate application calls to multiple hubs.) D3 also provides an API for encryption.
Data services – Web services can be dynamically generated based on the data model as SOAP / WSDL structures. Sources and targets can be mapped through Data Services; data staging can be handled in Data Spaces.
EBX5 is middleware-agnostic. Everything that can be done in the UI can be handled by web services. EBX5 integrates with directories such as LDAP and ADP, and supports Single Sign-On (SSO) and HTTPS. It also provides Java and Web component APIs for easy integration with portals and SharePoint sites.
EBX5 Add-ons – More Functionality for the Business
Orchestra has developed add-ons for EBX5 to increase support for how business users work:
- With the Excel add-on, business users can continue using Excel as their main point of entry for master data. This add-on allows for native integration with Excel, providing flexible import / export capabilities. Business rules are still enforced, even for data entered through Excel.
- The add-on for Oracle Hyperion Performance Management simplifies the process of defining, managing and governing financial reference data. Pre-built dimensions contain metadata templates.
- The EBX5 add-on for the GS1 Global Product Classification (GPC) makes it very easy to enrich data using the GPC hierarchy and includes core attributes for retailers and manufacturers.
EBX5 in Action
Through an interactive product demo, Conrad showed the flexibility of the data modeling capabilities in EBX5. Since MDM projects often start with a collaboration phase between the business stakeholders and the IT / implementation specialists where they rough out the data model, Conrad pointed out that EBX5 allows for easy import of sample data into the model for faster validation and corrective actions during the design phase.
Conrad’s demo also ran through using EBX5 for information discovery. He used an example of mining data available from Hoovers (a third party content provider) to discern the organizational structure of GE, for use by sales and marketing. The eventual reference data can be represented in snapshots, future change modeling, customized hierarchical views – whatever is needed by the business.
EBX5 has slick capabilities to handle versioning of master data – such as sales territories, which can change as often as once per quarter. It’s not always possible to use the latest edition of the master data when performing transactional analysis. In order to compare apples-to-apples, the transaction has to be matched to the version of the master data that was current at that time.
Multidomain MDM from Orchestra Networks means:
- Repurposing data for multiple uses – particularly valuable to many business roles
- Creating models that represent many different entities, such as products and customers.
- Maintaining relationships between different domains and data models to “connect” the people who maintain the models, across any number of business groups.
- The above points promote a “create once, use many” approach. For example, if the Legal group is responsible for maintaining the legal corporate hierarchy, other groups such as Sales can be quickly updated when a customer organization sells off a large business unit. Such an event can greatly impact how the Sales group has to handle the organizational changes for future sales contacts and opportunities.
Orchestra Cloud Offering
MDM in the cloud is still in the early stages, so the cloud offering from Orchestra Networks sets them apart as a pioneer in this area. Orchestra’s MDM in the cloud is dubbed smartdatagovernance.com [http://www.orchestranetworks.com/cloud-mdm/ ] and provides enterprise MDM capabilities: everything available in EBX5 is in their cloud offering.
Forrester’s Karel comments on the future of MDM in the cloud:
While 23% of respondents to Forrester’s December 2011 MDM survey said they would seriously consider or are very interested in cloud-based MDM solutions, 63% still said they are most likely or not at all interested. I expect 2012 and 2013 to be years of rational experimentation for cloud MDM, with a few early adopters paving the way for increased interest and momentum in 2014 and beyond.
Orchestra’s smartdatagovernance.com has several live customers and references. The cloud offering has allowed many large organizations to start up quickly. If the organization wants to later move the MDM project to on-premises, Orchestra makes it easy to migrate. On the sales and marketing side, it helps to have the cloud offering available for demos, trials and proofs of concept.
Orchestra Networks plans to continue improving and adding out-of-the-box capabilities to increase what it has to offer to business users, to improve productivity and meet their business needs. Orchestra already has many business users working with EBX5 capabilities, even though this is a somewhat sophisticated level of work for most business users. EBX5 is opening up new ways to do more with reference data through different custom views. Even if a business user doesn’t “own” the data, the data can be pulled into a custom view and put to work. Data on its own holds no value – value accrues when usable, reliable data is put to work for business outcomes that matter.
Orchestra Networks offers a 30-day trial for its cloud offering for multidomain MDM
About the Authors:
Julie Hunt is the Editor of Hub Designs Magazine. She is an accomplished software industry analyst, providing strategic market and competitive insights. Her 25+ years as a software professional range from the very technical side to customer-centric work in solutions consulting, sales and marketing. Julie shares her takes on the software industry via her blog Highly Competitive and on Twitter: @juliebhunt. For more information, please visit Julie Hunt Consulting – Strategic Product & Market Intelligence Services.
Dan Power is the founder of Hub Designs, a global consulting firm specializing in developing and delivering high impact master data management (MDM) and data governance strategies. His role at Hub Designs is a combination of best practice expert, industry analyst, client advisor, and thought leader. He’s responsible for client strategy and delivery in the areas of MDM, data governance, content marketing and social media. Dan is the author of more than 30 articles and white papers on MDM and data governance, and is a featured speaker at industry conferences, webinars and vendor events.
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