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Information Builders: the Omni-Gen Approach to MDM, by Julie Hunt

A new briefing for the Hub Designs MDM Think Tank by Information Builders

by Julie Hunt

When the Hub Designs MDM Think Tank met with Information Builders in 2014 for a briefing on the iWay Master Data Management Suite, we received a quick introduction to a new healthcare application called Omni-Patient. Omni-Patient had been built using a new approach created by Information Builders called Omni-Gen™, a more agile way to develop and implement MDM solutions.

Two years later, the MDM Think Tank sat down with Information Builders again. This time, we were given a thorough look at the latest iteration of the Omni-Gen approach and the Omni Information Management Platform. Joining us from Information Builders: Jeremy Ballanco, VP iWay Sales; Vince Deeney, iWay Technical Director; Jake Freivald, VP Product Marketing; and Dennis McLaughlin, VP Global iWay Operations.

Omni Information Management Platform and Omni-Gen

Information Builders has shifted the foundation for new MDM applications to Omni-Gen. The diagram below shows how MDM teams can take advantage of the Omni platform. Data management functions are organized in a building block approach, where users can start in the lower left corner with Profiling data, and then build out applications from there.

This version of the Omni platform includes new releases of the MDM and data quality components.

Omni Information Management Platform

Omni-Gen Components:

  • Omni Designer – visual design environment for defining interrelated MDM domains, as well as reference data, rules for data quality and master data processes
  • Omni Governance Console – centralized management center for data governance across domains
    • 360° Viewer – views of every entity in mastered domains
    • Remediation Portal – access for data stewards and business users for data remediation tasks
  • Omni-Gen Server – facilitates MDM activities such as reconciliation of master data references and remediation processing

Bottom Up, Top Down

Jeremy Ballanco discussed the traditional approach to MDM – the “old way” takes too much time, carries too much risk, and ends up being too expensive, sometimes not even achieving the objectives of the MDM initiative.

The “bottom up” method for MDM projects isn’t working because unsynchronized teams are trudging separate long roads to achieve the “desired end state”. This method is easily derailed. One of the major challenges to overcome is the difficulty of orchestrating many different teams to work as one.

Information Builders sees Omni-Gen as the way to turn things around, and do a much better and faster job of implementing MDM and putting it to work to achieve increased business value.

Agile Approach to MDM, Data Quality, and Data Integration

The Omni-Gen design approach starts with the desired end state; teams work back from there. Organizations create the models that they need for a particular end result. Omni-Gen then automatically generates the processes that will carry out the appropriate MDM tasks, as extensions of the models that were created. As such, Information Builders sees Omni-Gen as a business-centric approach that includes business knowledge to accelerate development.

The Omni-Gen Way

As Information Builders puts it: a “shorter, automated, and rule-driven lifecycle means more iterative development and compressed cycle times.” Jeremy stated that the Omni-Gen approach has taken MDM implementations from 18 months or more down to 6 months (and sometimes less).

An extremely important aspect of Omni-Gen is the incorporation of reusable services and pre-built components. Information Builders describes Omni-Gen as “data-as-a-service”. Many data-related technologies, such as data integration and BI, are moving to service-based approaches, and emphasize the value of reusability and smart automation capabilities. A platform like Omni-Gen is not only an advantageous tool for internal teams – partners, systems integrators, and consultants can benefit from it as well.

For a long time, large enterprises were the main users of MDM, due principally to the high cost in terms of money and resources. With the Omni-Gen approach, smaller organizations (most likely mid-sized organizations) should be able to create MDM applications cost effectively. Departments within large enterprises can also initiate their own MDM efforts. Omni-Gen provides capabilities to prevent master data silos and to map department-level master data into higher organizational levels. And any work done with Omni-Gen has to map into existing practices and processes for data governance, data quality, and other centralized data management functions, which obviously provide a fail-safe.

The Omni-Gen platform has simplified the creation of industry-focused applications like Omni-Patient.  The purpose of Omni-Patient is to manage and ensure reliable patient information throughout the patient care lifecycle, based on Omni-Gen MDM technologies. Omni-Patient comes into play for strategic initiatives requiring accurate patient data that are being carried out by healthcare entities.

The Omni-Gen platform can be deployed either on premises or in the cloud. Information Builders will include capabilities for mastering big data in a near-future release. Information Builders stated that data migrations are easier with Omni-Gen compared to other MDM solutions.

Big Data Processing for Everyone?

The iWay Big Data Integrator is a purpose-built application that leverages Hadoop resources, running natively in Hadoop clusters. The Big Data Integrator also takes advantage of the iWay Service Manager, an ESB-powered function, to further facilitate data connectivity and integration

Many organizations, including large ones, often have limited staff to dedicate to big data processing, integration and mastering. It’s often expensive to carry out big data projects. Information Builders sees the need to provide a technology solution that will make big data processing possible for more organizations, including data mastering capabilities. Master data is often necessary to provide critical context to big data pools.

As an industry example, Information Builders sees this big data application as a good fit for the financial services industry, which has become a major consumer of big data.

iWay Big Data Integrator

Omni-Gen Platform in Action

Vince Deeney stepped up to run through a live demo of the Omni-Gen platform. A user can immediately start the baseline application to get right to work. The environment is based on graphical user interfaces (UIs); point-click-drag functionality speeds tasks. Multiple views in the designer are available including a full process view. From the overall process view, a user can work on specific sections of the full process, enabled by the designer. Obviously, this is particularly useful for working on complex processes.

The Omni Governance Console is the gateway for business and IT users to view, monitor, remediate, and report on data. With the 360° Viewer, a component of the Omni Governance Console, users can search for and view business domains, mastered information, and historical instances across dimensions. Master records can also be created in the 360° Viewer.

Remediation activities for data stewards are made easier in the Omni-Gen Remediation Portal. Issues and exceptions are color-coded, and icons can be clicked for drill-down into more detail. Various roles can be involved in data reviews, disposition decisions and other next steps. Clicking on an exception ticket automatically moves from the 360° Viewer to the remediation view in the UI. Users can change how data in each field is viewed, with several options: sort, filter, edit, is visible, is logged. Field views can be activated and deactivated as needed.

The workflow designer enables the creation of automated remediation processes. Workflow steps can inspect attributes of exception data before assigning responsibility to a person for further investigation and disposition. Data can be changed, but instead of moving the change forward in the process, the data can be sequestered in a separate dataset and the responsible party contacted to enact next steps. Workflows are user and application customizable, and support mobile-based automation.

Auditing and security capabilities enable fine-level controls for the auditing and logging of data access. Omni-Gen utilizes a WS02 identity server to integrate LDAP, SAML and other security protocols.

For modeling development, users can bring in existing corporate level data quality rules and actions, as well as create new ones. All existing data quality plans that are relevant to the data being modeled can be used. Omni-Gen helps speed up data quality and data governance activities, and makes it possible for business user participation in data governance and data quality activities.

New data quality and matching rules can be created by users. Omni-Gen can also auto-generate a framework process with all appropriate (and existing) cleansing rules, instead of creating rules from scratch, or to complement rules that are user-created. Custom cleansing rules can be added to any approach.

Deeper Dive Feature Overview

Omni-Gen has extensive incorporation of out-of-the-box and custom services. Omni-Gen can access all iWay and Information Builders services, as well as most databases, applications and protocols. The master data repository can also be utilized in services. Full use is made of RESTful technologies and automation capabilities for “invisible” creation of services.

Leaving “Traditional” MDM in the Dust

In the past few years, new vendors have entered the MDM space with solutions that have a better focus on what businesses need. These vendors are also dismantling the old ways of how MDM has been implemented to more realistically support the diverse array of data sources that businesses need to utilize, particularly for faster, agile analytics processes.

Now we see a well-established data management and analytics vendor, Information Builders, blazing a new trail for transforming MDM as well. Jeremy stated that most of the large established MDM vendors are still stuck in out-of-date approaches that are too costly and take too long to get up and running. This view is validated by industry analysts and customer organizations alike.

So it’s encouraging to see the new direction that Information Builders is taking with Omni-Gen, both as an agile MDM platform and as a development platform to generate applications, such as Omni-Patient, that rely on MDM to solve business problems. Omni-Gen has great potential to help organizations break away from the pitfalls that beset many MDM initiatives, including the too-long time to achieving business value from MDM.

Julie Hunt is the editor of Hub Designs Magazine and co-founder of the Hub Designs MDM Think Tank. Her “day job” is as an independent software industry analyst and consultant to software vendors for customer, solution and go-to-market strategies.

Disclaimer: Hub Designs periodically works with Information Builders on projects including white papers and reports.

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