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Transforming National Companies (Part 3) – In Search of MDM Integrators, by Dmitrii Kovalchuk

Part 3 in Dmitrii Kovalchuk’s series on building a data management program from scratch in Kazakhstan


I was sitting in a big conference room, listening to an older man showing slides and telling how his company, TerraLink, had implemented an MDM program for , a large Russian oil company. Two more representatives of TerraLink were sitting in front of me and trying to read my face with shifty eyes. I acted like I was interested in what they had to say. The reality is that this project was very familiar to me because, in fact, IBS, the consulting company that I worked for, had implemented the MDM program for LUKOIL.

Since I was researching systems integrators for implementing MDM solutions, I ended up dropping TerraLink from my list and going on to the next SI. In this article, I’ll present more of what I found out about system integrators claiming to offer MDM implementation services in post-USSR countries. I hope this will be interesting for our readers.

This is a continuation of our project coverage on Hub Designs Magazine, called DMFS – Data Management From Scratch. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Yours sincerely, Dmitrii Kovalchuk

The Challenge

Some of our companies have already finished the Design Stage. They are now planning the Implementation Stage, which will likely involve both Russian-speaking and English-speaking system integrators. I figured out that, due to data specifics, I needed to engage SI firms with a proven track record of successfully implementing MDM in post-USSR countries, also known as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Even though there are many consulting companies offering MDM implementation services in CIS countries, it turned out that it’s difficult to find an appropriate business partner that can point to successful MDM implementations.

Pseudo-generalists, Slobs, Pessimists and Used-to-Bes

Unfortunately, in CIS countries, there is no organization like The MDM Institute, which has a list of the top 50 MDM Systems Integrators. To make a long list of MDM integrators, I researched them through keywords like “MDM”, “master data” and so on, as well as “normative and informative information” since many people in Russia refer to master data in such a way (USSR heritage). After that, we started looking for companies on the Internet.

As a result, we found 65 companies, mostly Russian, that make the claim on their websites of providing MDM implementations. We sent invitations for them to come to Astana and present their MDM experience and competencies. Only 16 agreed to come. I called some companies and received no response. I’ve figured out some reasons why the response rate has been so low.

Only some system integrators in CIS have a real MDM background and/or experienced staff and projects. Most of them list MDM implementations as a service just because it covers the applications of vendors who are their partners. These pseudo-generalists promote themselves by literally saying on their sites, “We can do everything” regarding the SAP, IBM or Oracle product line.

Other companies that did not come to Astana I grouped this way:

  • Slobs – they have internal miscommunications and our letter didn’t reach the appropriate person (for example, one big consulting company has a rigorous MDM team and experience, but their commercial manager responded: ”We did not provide such services”)
  • Pessimists – they don’t seem to be interested in looking for new work and don’t want to spend money on presale, so they just sent some materials
  • Used-to-Bes – they had MDM projects in the past, but don’t have appropriate staff now even for selling such services

Cheaters and Chancers

Among the companies that came to Astana and presented their experience in MDM were two that brought presenters who, in fact, were not their employees. Even worse, these people described the experience of other firms. It looks like they think that Kazakhstan does not have Internet access at all. I named them the Cheaters.

There were companies that didn’t know any master data management principles or approaches. Their presenters assured us that they have a partnership with a mega-vendor that will send experienced consultants to Astana to teach local teams. They tried to convince me that they would get the appropriate experience during the first implementation and could reuse it for the next ones. I named them the Chancers.

Additionally, while I conducted these exercises, some Russian system integrators decided to sell their services directly, bypassing our vetting process. Their sales representatives arrived in Astana, prowled around and sniffed out any opportunity for promoting their services. As a result, two MDM initiatives were going to be launched as parallel projects (outside of our Transformation Program) and integrators with doubtful experience were going to be involved. I’m happy to say that I was able to head off these end runs.


Eventually we found 12 companies that satisfied our criteria. I grouped them this way:

  • Technical MDM pros – system integrators that have the appropriate teams and experience, and who can implement MDM and other data management solutions from different vendors.
  • Comprehensive MDM gurus – system integrators that are able to implement MDM on a full scale including data preparation, and material master cataloguing.
  • Data Governance guru – a consulting company that, in my opinion, has the best understanding of what data governance is. We can bring in this company to design the organizational building blocks of MDM.

In conclusion, I would like to say that my predictions in the article RUSSIA: MDM PERSPECTIVES 2012 were too optimistic. I’ve concluded this because of Russian foreign policy, which has led to financial crisis and stagnation in the IT market.

I hope that, in the future, Kazakhstan will have its own MDM integrators and MDM vendors.


 Dmitrii Kovalchuk, Searching for MDM Integrators

Click for a larger version of the infographic

Next Month’s Report

This time, I’m not providing a preview of the next article because we’re preparing a surprise and it’s going to be our New Year’s Eve present for our readers. You can pick up your gift in the next DMFS Field Report – coming soon

About the Author

Dmitrii Kovalchuk

Dmitrii Kovalchuk has worked as a data management consultant for more than ten years.

He has experience in data governance and stewardship, data architecture, data development, master data management and data quality management.

In addition to his keen interest in data management, he enjoys spending quality time with his family, as well as jogging, hiking and paragliding.

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3 Comments on “Transforming National Companies (Part 3) – In Search of MDM Integrators, by Dmitrii Kovalchuk”

  1. Stephane Poulin 12/16/2015 at 9:13 pm #

    I really like your straight forward no bull**** way of story telling…I have had similar experiences during my 23 years in Corp. America. I am now on the consulting/vendor side of this process and appreciated your article. Keep me in mind if you need to chat on opportunities.
    Stephane Poulin
    OneView Enterprises

    • Dmitrii Kovalchuk 12/17/2015 at 9:49 pm #

      Hi Stephane

      Thanks. Which opportunities are you looking for or can suggest?

      Best regards,
      Dmitrii Kovalchuk


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