There has been much hype written around master data management (MDM) – indeed, analyst firm Gartner released their Hype Cycle report last year. Gartner describes MDM as “a technology-enabled business discipline that helps organisations achieve a ‘single version of the truth’ in such important areas as customers and products”.
Software AG is taking a stance on on reducing the hype around MDM with a series of educational seminars in EMEA – including South Africa.
“Companies are increasingly investing in MDM technologies as they look to achieve a ‘one version of the truth’ set of master information which can be easily accessed by authorised employees, business processes, SOA services, and applications throughout the organisation,” says Sakari Jorma, regional director, data solutions EMEA, Software AG.
Jorma heads up Software AG’s MDM practice in EMEA and bases his pragmatic approach to the topic on his years of MDM experience at Nokia.
In South Africa to deliver two seminars in Johannesburg and Cape Town, Jorma will also be meeting with large enterprises to help them get to grips with the implementation, expected benefits and the correct implementation procedures. He also emphasises the need for a sound approach to change management, another of his strengths.
“For many firms, such change will represent a fundamental transformational initiative,” he says. “As a result, it is likely to require a degree of specialist third-party expertise in analysing where the business currently sits on the MDM maturity curve and – to determine what steps need to be taken to achieve a unified enterprise MDM strategy.”
MDM provides processes for collecting, aggregating, matching, consolidating, quality-assuring, persisting and distributing data throughout an organisation. This brings consistency and control of information right across the enterprise.
Capture once, distribute to everything. For a bank, for example, this means customer records will access the current and correct information of banking, mortgages, insurance, and investments, allowing the bank to correctly offer additional services, increasing revenue opportunities and customer satisfaction.
This data, some reaching back for 20, 30 or more years, is the biggest asset any company can have. No more data silos, but full governance and compliance and with fast access to the highest quality data within the organisation.
“Businesses face a world of rapidly-changing technologies and huge data growth, which has a direct impact on data quality. Organisations that fail to address this are likely to struggle, for example, in areas such as financial reporting. Manually collating and analysing customer data, much of it duplicated, across multiple IT systems is time-consuming, inefficient and prone to error.
“For example, SAP upgrades must be done all at once as this is probably the heart of the data. MDM will manage that,” Jorma says.
A key first step, he says, for any business looking to address this challenge is to standardise the data around the product or service offered. Manually making such a change across multiple disparate in-house systems is hard to achieve. By contrast, an automated MDM solution which enables standardisation across all systems and applications will create a holistic view that is easy to set up and access.
“In looking at what makes a best-practice MDM solution, there is a critical difference to be made between data and information. Despite its name, effective MDM is not simply about managing data held within the business: it is about managing information, which requires the involvement of individuals to convert raw data into actionable output through intelligent analysis.
“In short, this two-stage process requires the use of IT to standardise data and the involvement of people to add intelligence through what is called data governance.”
Additionally, savvy consumers are expecting more from companies these days as they wish to compare product information via multiple channels, This places increased pressure on businesses to deliver consistent, high quality data to consumers regardless of how the customer views this information. Those businesses who differentiate themselves in this manner will be more successful.
As consumers, users recognise the value of MDM (or lack of it) in many ways. When they move house, they must inform details to a large number of organisations ranging from banks to doctors’ surgeries in order to ensure their lives are not disrupted.
How much easier would it be if users could simply forward the information once to, say, the post office operating an enterprise-scale MDM solution, confident that the records of all relevant service providers were immediately updated?
Similarly, where a retailer adopts MDM as part of a properly-integrated back-office system within a multi-channel consumer offering, customers benefit from a uniformly high-quality user experience, irrespective of the sales channel they choose to adopt.
“Businesses can now achieve effective data management and governance using a single, affordable multi-domain tool. And by so doing, flexible and agile process-driven MDM will provide a future-proofed basis for meeting the needs of today and tomorrow,” concludes Jorma.
webMethods OneData is a Master Data Management (MDM) solution that reconciles, cleanses and synchronises enterprise master data on customers, products, suppliers – whatever category users choose.
OneData gives users “one version of truth.” Redundancies and errors are eliminated. Only reliable, accurate and approved enterprise information flows through processes, systems and applications.
Plus, with Software AG’s process-driven approach, users can identify the right master data and control on-going changes.