MDM Inside the Box

When executives at Cognizant Technology Solutions, a Teaneck, N.J.–based provider of information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing services, started on its master data management (MDM) journey, they came across three reasons why these initiatives failed. Identifying and tackling those three pain points, they say now, provided the genesis for the company's MDM-in-a-Box product, a modular approach to collect and manage the full range of critical customer data generated by an enterprise.

According to Dileep Srinivasan, Cognizant's assistant vice president and practice leader for customer data integration–MDM, the triad of roadblocks were that MDM:

  • was seen more as a technological initiative with very little buy-in from the business side;
  • had the reputation of representing a complex, long-term project; and
  • required a very expensive platform, with prohibitively high costs of entry.

"So, these three reasons prompted us to really look at MDM and see if we could do something that would address some of these challenges, and we came out with this modularized version," Srinivasan explains.

Cognizant's MDM-in-a-Box is intended to lower costs and reduce implementation time for a typical enterprisewide MDM deployment, which Cognizant executives believe will provide a solid first step toward building out a more comprehensive initiative down the road. "This [solution] has been created -- so it won't compromise the long-term need of ensuring the entire MDM roadmap is fully integrated with multiple entities," Srinivasan stresses. "It can grow."

John Radcliffe, research vice president for Stamford, Conn.–based industry analyst firm Gartner, believes this product is a positive step forward for the industry. "Cognizant recognizes [that] buyers need something easier to use and implement," he says. "That's good particularly in the current economic climate, for those looking for a reduced-cost starting point as opposed to [pricing levels of] more than a million dollars."

Rob Karel, principal analyst at Boston-based consulting firm Forrester Research, agrees. "The company's vision of what it's trying to accomplish matches what I recommend to clients, which is to start small and grow," he says. "Cognizant has a chance to really differentiate itself in the services market."

One possible issue Radcliffe sees in Cognizant's announcement, though, is that -- at least for now -- this particular version is only targeted to the financial services market. Not every industry can pick up this solution and instantly hit the ground running, Radcliffe says. "Everybody's jumping on the term 'MDM' to label their products, and if you're in the right [vertical] this may work for you; but if not, there's a lot more you might need to do -- or go somewhere else."

According to Srinivasan, this is just the first in a line of other Cognizant Quick Start Solutions that will be coming down the pike in the next fiscal quarter. Several similar solutions are in the pipeline, he says, catering specifically to the entertainment, insurance, medical device, and pharmaceutical spaces.

Radcliffe suggests that Cognizant's roadmap is a step in the right direction, adding that he believes that the verticalization of these MDM solutions speaks to the growing maturity of the overall space. "Potentially, if you go further down this track, MDM starts to be a proposition not just for large enterprises but for midsize ones as well," he says.

Karel, on the other hand, says that MDM is still an "extremely immature market." He has hope that the verticalization approach is viable, though. "What it comes down to is that it's a technological solution trying to solve an organizational problem," he stresses. "So the investment needs to be made in data governance and putting employees in the proper roles...because no matter how good Cognizant's offering is, it's not going to solve the [existing] organizational issues that are the primary reasons MDM initiatives fail. That goes back to the level of maturity."


News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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