The Missing Link of Sustainable MDM Programs

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Click to learn more about author Frank Cerwin.

Do you know Otto Rohwedder?  Some of the greatest ideas are compared to his invention.  You reveal it when you declare “It’s the greatest thing since…”.  That’s right.  Otto invented sliced bread.  Unfortunately, Otto focused on the technology and process for his bread-slicing machine.  From 1912 and many of the following years, he struggled with the lack of adoption and financial backing.  Along came Wonder Bread in 1930 with their own bread-slicing machine to gain the majority of the market share, credit, and profits associated with sliced bread.  What did Wonder Bread do better than Otto?  Marketing.

The same scenario often occurs when it comes to Master Data Management (MDM).  The technology, process, and people capture our attention.  Most of the recognition is bestowed on the operational and analytical applications that delivered the final business benefits.  Often leadership is unaware of the real value that MDM made possible as an enabler of these applications.  MDM program management often shares in the blame for that scenario.  They continue to report metrics related to the number of data sources landed, new data elements defined, and new subscribers onboarded in the current period.   Just like Otto, the MDM team is focused only on technology and process.

MDM is not an easy sell. As an ‘enabler’, MDM is like the supplier or distributer of the raw materials that went into an end-product you purchased.  If you’re satisfied, you think of the manufacturer who assembled it and placed their label on the product and not any of those companies who supplied and distributed its components. More so than any operational or analytical application, MDM program leadership must become proficient in marketing approaches and techniques.  They must highlight in business terms the positive impact MDM effected and the value delivered.

Marketing begins with a marketing plan.  The plan addresses the 4 “Ps” – Product, Place, Price, and Promotion.  “Product” defines the Master Data elements and services to be offered as well as the target market.  “Place”, defines where the products and services will be advertised and offered.  “Price” addresses expenses and chargeback revenue.  Finally, “Promotion” focuses on the message content that will resonate with the MDM program’s target market and the advertising media to deliver the message.

A MDM program is a long journey with an indefinite end date.   An MDM program must prove its value time and time again.  It must continue to grow and request funding year after year.  Effective marketing attracts new clients, entices new suppliers, captures additional funding, and energizes data stewards.  To achieve these feats, MDM leadership must have the knowledge and skills to craft an attention-getting marketing message, deliver the message to the right audience, and close the deal.  These marketing activities become key processes in the MDM operating model.  How do you know if your marketing efforts are effective?   It’s obviously apparent when people say that your MDM program is the “greatest thing since sliced bread”.

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