Why MDM Still Matters

mdm rocks

by Christine Denney

With all the hype around new technologies, like Hadoop, it feels like the excitement of Master Data Management is disappearing like candy on Halloween.  Could it be that MDM is really yesterday’s news?  Something that was a passing fad and is no longer relevant?  Hardly.  The need for the discipline of managing key person, place, and thing assets is as relevant today as it was during the height of MDM’s hype.  Unfortunately, excitement and anticipation is often replaced with disillusionment when the reality sets in that MDM is very necessary, but certainly isn’t easy.  But does that mean that we Master Data Management professionals should cower?  Hardly!

MDM is hot and cool at the same time and continues to deserve respect.  Here are just a few reasons why:

  1. We went virtual before virtual was cool.  The words “moving data” seem to make people cringe these days, so anything “virtual” earns applause.  Those who haven’t studied the various techniques for implementing MDM solutions may not be aware that virtualized MDM, most commonly known as the registry style, has been around for years.  Dare I say that makes us pioneers?
  2. We’ve always been about the business.  There seems to be this emerging trend to get closer to the business processes and prove business value.  I’m here to say that MDM has always been “about the business.”  In fact, it aims to take those assets at the heart of the business and give them the respect that they deserve.
  3. Big MDM can handle Big Data.  I was glad to see Rick Clements’ “Mastering the Big Data Explosion with MDM” article from June 2012.  Master Data exists in many forms and the discipline of MDM is ready to tackle them all.
  4. We have our heads in the cloud.  Put the word “cloud” in front of anything these days and it gains instant respect.  Just say it out loud and hear the “oohs” and “ahhs” around you.  As more and more data moves to the cloud (e.g. publicly available data sources), MDM doesn’t even skip a step….it doesn’t mind that the data aren’t local.  There are also vendor solutions emerging in this space to provide externally hosted solutions for master data hubs.

So what is MDM lacking that could help its appeal?  I’m thinking that it’s all in the branding.  After all, Hadoop has that cute little elephant and who doesn’t love a fuzzy little elephant?  When I mentioned this dilemma on Twitter, I received a tweet about a data quality mascot.  I believe it was might have been a spunky little chimp?  This left me thinking that MDM just needs a cool, new mascot to help soften its image and make it feel more fun and less stiff.  How about a Master Data monkey?  Whoever said that MDM folks don’t have a sense of humor was clearly mistaken!

Even if the idea of a change in branding doesn’t catch on, I hope that people will change their view of MDM and turn it from a necessary evil to what it truly is — an opportunity to add real business value.


NOTE:  Thoughts expressed are those of the author and not her employer (or probably anyone else, either).

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