Master Data Management: Does an Effective Solution Exist?

November 9, 2011
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by Brenda Somich

Despite being a term that has only reached popularity in the last decade, Master Data Management (MDM) is really a new turn on an old problem.

by Brenda Somich

Despite being a term that has only reached popularity in the last decade, Master Data Management (MDM) is really a new turn on an old problem.

Managing master data such as customer, product, employee, locality and partner data has always been a major challenge – ever since organisations have tried to share or integrate data across systems. For this reason, master management marketplace has grown significantly in the last decade and is predicated to continue to grow aggressively over the coming years. Organisations are spending very large amounts of money on their Master Management programmes and they want to ensure their investment is sound.

However, in most large organisations, managing master data is a very complex problem that technology alone will not solve.  The majority of underlying issues are process and competency-oriented:

  • Organisations typically have complex data quality issues with master data, especially with customer and address data from legacy systems
  • There is often a high degree of overlap in master data, e.g. large organisations storing customer data across many systems in the enterprise
  • Organisations typically lack a Data Mastering Model which defines primary masters, secondary masters and slaves of master data and therefore makes integration of master data complex
  • It is often difficult to come to a common agreement on domain values that are stored across a number of systems, especially product data
  • Poor information governance (stewardship, ownership, policies) around master data leads to complexity across the organisation

MDM solutions are often perceived by business and executive management as significant and costly purely due to infrastructure improvement efforts lacking well-defined tangible business benefits. MIKE2.0′s approach to Information Development is one method can help implement the necessary competences to address some of these issues.

Would you recommend any other solutions, and if so, why?  What do you think are the key capabilities required for an effective MDM solution?