2013 Trends in Master Data Management

MDMby Paul Williams 

In 2013, Master Data Management continues to be a vital part of the overall Data Management world. Maintaining detailed master data records remains a particularly important aspect of any Data Governance practice, especially concerning regulatory compliance issues. Governance related considerations also need to be looked at when approaching the outsourcing of MDM to any Cloud-based or Data as a Service offering.

Social networking now plays a larger role in customer management and engagement – how do these changes affect Master Data Management? This article looks at the latest trends in the practice of MDM, as well as items to watch through the coming year, from new products to innovative solutions to MDM vendors adding new clients.

Feu Vert Looks to SAS DataFlux for Customer Intelligence Project

A leading European car accessory manufacturer, Feu Vert, is looking to SAS DataFlux as the provider for a Master Data Management system; it will be used on a special customer intelligence project leveraging the business analytics capabilities of DataFlux. The project is part of Feu Vert’s 5-year plan to increase sales growth through data-centric marketing.

Marie-Pierre Dussolliet-Berthod, Feu Vert’s CRM Manager commented on the project:

“We selected SAS DataFlux Master Data Management to support our growth strategy and bring marketing data management back in-house. This allows us to accelerate our growth based on a better knowledge of our customers and a more closely aligned marketing proposition.”

The project uses SAS DataFlux’s MDM and Data Management Platform to create a reference data hub containing Feu Vert customer information. The main deliverables from the project were an overall lower cost per customer contact, as well as the establishment of a Data Governance program for the reference data hub.

The reference data hub has now become a critical asset in Feu Vert’s IT application portfolio by integrating with any application accessing customer data. The MDM solution combined customer data from a variety of other applications, providing a single source of truth for all applications that use Feu Vert’s customer information.

The TARDIS of Master Data Management

Jim Harris is a data quality consultant who wrote a January column in Information Management; it explained two of the entity concepts used in Master Data Management modeling in terms familiar to fans of the British science fiction series, Doctor Who. Harris based the concepts in his article on some recent online discussions led by MDM thought leader, Henrik L. Sorenson.

Harris focuses on a Sorenson blog covering two entities, Location and Asset, which have not received as much discussion in MDM circles as the two other entities typically used in master data modeling, Party and Product. Location is generally referred to by a postal address or geographic coordinates, while Asset is generally thought of as a resource capable of producing business value.

Doctor Who references come into play as Harris explains that Assets tend to be over-identified by a specific location, as in many cases, an Asset is actually movable. The TARDIS is Doctor Who’s time machine and spaceship used for inter-dimensional travel throughout the series.

Harris explains that while the TARDIS is probably the Doctor’s most important asset, its location consistently varies. This allows Harris to come up with a better definition of Location in MDM terms: “Location is a time and relative dimension in space where we would currently find an Asset.” A science fiction metaphor does help explain this concept a bit more clearly.

Westpac Moving its MDM from the Mainframe to the Cloud

Westpac is one of Australia’s leading financial companies. In late January, the bank announced it was moving its Master Data Management functionality off of its mainframe computers to a Cloud-based solution provided by database giant, Oracle.

The company now uses Siebel Universal Customer Manager as its MDM application of choice on Exalogic Elastic Cloud and Exadata Database Machine – a platform put together by Oracle. Westpac commented that proof of concept tests revealed the company is slated to see significant cost savings for their MDM move to the Cloud over the next year.

Benchmark testing revealed a forty-fold improvement in processing time on the new Oracle system compared to Westpac’s older mainframe deployment. The new system also allows for an integrated, singular view of customer data, providing richer profiles as well as better management of compliance and risk issues.

As other applications in the sphere of Data Management move to Cloud-based and “as a Service” platforms, it makes sense that those in Master Data Management also follow this trend which should continue throughout 2013.

Business Process Management Encompassing MDM and Big Data

Matt Davies, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Cordys, authored an article for SmartData Collective focusing on data-driven business process management as a tool for enterprises looking to get a handle on Big Data. Davies feels that BPM is vital for companies desiring a cohesive view of their information, be it transactional data, analytical data, or in the case of MDM, master data.

Continuous process improvement is what any enterprise should strive for, and in this age of Big Data and the Cloud, deriving Business Intelligence out of data depends on a focused effort across an entire organization. Davies feels this holds the key to true business transformation.

Davies envisions a sweet spot where business process and data combine to make the latter actionable. He feels this is the real challenge for companies incorporating Big Data solutions for Master Data Management or other data disciplines. Successful BPM is vital according to Davies:

“Seeing the information that helps make a decision on a composite dashboard is just the first step and where too many companies stop. True, there are wonderful emerging big data analytics companies today, and a growing number that add dynamic dashboards to view and interpret the data. Then what? A business must be able to fire off the business process to execute the decision made regarding the data. Hello, BPM.”

Successful implementation of MDM solutions in 2013 need to incorporate business processes allowing employees to react to whatever the data tells them. This sweet spot, to use Davies’ term, is the path for the enterprise to derive competitive value from their investment in Master Data Management.

Ferguson uses Stibo Systems MDM Solution to Improve Customer Service

Stibo Systems, producer of multi-domain Master Data Management systems, recently announced that Ferguson, the largest American distributor of plumbing supplies, including pipes, valves, and fittings, has chosen Stibo’s STEP MDM solution for customer management. Ferguson’s distributed network features 1300 branch locations and the company expects STEP to allow for better multichannel customer engagement.

Dave Keltner, Chief Financial Officer of Ferguson, commented on their hopes to improve customer service through better MDM:

“Improving the multichannel experience for our customers is Ferguson’s number one goal, and we are committed to providing the latest up-to-date product information to assist customer buying decisions. Stibo Systems’ multi-domain MDM platform supports our long-term commitment to provide world class customer service resulting in increased shareholder value.”

Stibo Systems’ President, Andreas Lorenzen concurred: “In today’s fast paced, multichannel environment, companies are increasingly driven to improve the customer buying experience. We look forward to helping Ferguson improve its customer experience by delivering highly accurate product and service information across a variety of devices.”

So in 2013, the practice of MDM is following many of the same technology trends found in other disciplines in the world of Data Management – migration to the Cloud, processing and management of Big Data, and increased social networking awareness. These combined with a goal to improve business efficacy through better customer engagement and better compliance with regulatory concerns will continue to drive trends in Master Data Management throughout 2013.

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