Master data management (MDM) has a critical role to play in the pursuit of gaining that elusive single view of a customer. But are organisations effectively capitalising on the technology at their disposal or are they missing out on key opportunities? Petr Havlik, director of CyberPro Consulting.
According to Gartner, MDM is a technology-enabled discipline in which business and IT work together to ensure the uniformity, accuracy, stewardship, consistency, and accountability of the shared master data assets of an organisation. In other words, MDM provides a common language to all the data that a business deals with.
While, MDM is very business-focused; as opposed to a pure technology-driven approach, larger companies are still struggling with silos of data that exist within the organisation. It can therefore be very difficult to embrace the consolidation of data, which MDM enables, when divisions inside the business have different approaches around data management.
Historically, companies relied on customer relationship management to try and do the job of MDM. However, the modern approach is to have a dedicated MDM strategy in place – a strategy that seeks to combine data quality and matching, as well as integration into the source system – all strung together with a golden thread that will unify all information inside the organisation. Ultimately, it boils down to gaining an understanding of a customer.
The reality at the moment is that if you phone your bank, for example, many will not have a common view of you as a customer. So the credit card division might have one view of you while the home loan department another.
The move to embracing this single view of the customer started in earnest for most large enterprises around five years ago. However many are still struggling to fully realise the value of these projects. To capitalise on MDM, companies need to understand the data they have. This means ensure data is kept clean and up to date, as well as keeping data synchronised across all divisions. Traditionally, this had to be done with a lot of custom software development and human intervention, but thanks to MDM, it can now be automated to a higher degree, although it still requires a substantial commitment to get right.
For MDM to work effectively, the data quality has to be there, given that MDM strives to match all the data in the organisation and define a golden record (the one master data set of a customer, supplier, and so on).
So, while MDM enables consolidated reporting in a business, its value lies in its ability to understand a customer and the relationship that person actually has with the company. As such, an MDM approach will minimise potentially conflicting and incorrect customer information. It also allows an organisation to cross-sell and up-sell tailored solutions to a customer.
While some argue that it is an expensive approach, which can take a long time to implement properly, it should be recognised that the benefits provide decision-makers with the impetus to start addressing MDM requirements.
In the pursuit of better customer service and improving the corporate bottom-line, MDM provides the organisation with the ideal way to get ahead – so what are you waiting for?