The Maturing of MDM

NEW YORK — Aaron Zornes is convinced that the master data management (MDM) industry is maturing. As chairman of the MDM Summit held here today, Zornes referred to MDM as a "healthy, robust market," but strongly asserted the importance of hearing from the market's megavendors in order to get an accurate view of the industry. To that end, executives from Oracle and Dun & Bradstreet took the stage to deliver views of MDM in 2008.

First up to bat was Pascal Laik, vice president of product strategies for Oracle, who outlined the top vertical focuses he sees gravitating toward MDM:

  • Sales and marketing: The goal is to provide and use clean customer data to achieve lower costs and greater customer satisfaction.
  • Supply chain: Using MDM to deal with acquisitions, but also to reduce order returns and to track orders more efficiently.
  • Telecommunications: The biggest goal is to reorganize the business from product-centric to customer-centric. MDM is used for CRM and for backup systems. Key performance indicators include upsells, cross-sells, and time-to-market.
  • Retail: Ideal for organizations needing a single point of entry and a global process. MDM is used for accountability and governance as well as for business intelligence to clean customer data for better decision-making and risk management.
  • Financial services: "We thought initially that this sector would be slower [to take up MDM]," Laik said. "But what's happening is exactly the opposite. Why? It's time for financial services to work on rationalization projects and have a better view of authorities, suppliers, and customers. It's the end of ‘everyone does everything they want' but now, ‘How do I rationalize my data and get rid of unnecessary risk exposure?' " The vertical, he added, is using MDM for customer self-service and to put all of the customer data into one hub.

On the other end of the MDM vendor spectrum, Chris Lucas, vice president of strategy for Dun & Bradstreet, relayed the top demands he sees in terms of organizations needing MDM. "You're trying to reduce expenses, you're trying to comply with regulatory compliances, you're trying to protect the brand -- and to stay out of jail," he said, adding that within an organization there's usually a distinct set of members who would benefit from access to integrated and high-quality data. However, that just cannot be done without an MDM initiative. "The good news for all of you is that the solutions experience set and successes in the market continue to evolve and mature," he told attendees.

Countering the vendor voices in the ballroom, Kim Fahey, senior director of information architecture with print company RR Donnelly and Sons -- and also a customer of Dun & Bradstreet's Purisma unit for MDM -- outlined the challenges her organization has encountered in developing a maturing MDM process. Fahey admitted that the road toward mastering MDM hasn't always been an easy one. She suggested that organizations take a phased approach and plan to grow with MDM -- again, citing the MDM market's ongoing maturity as a reason why this approach is even possible today.

She outlined the key challenges RR Donnelly encountered during its implementation of Purisma's MDM solution, as well as the strategic lessons the company learned along the way:

  • A registry model allows for gradual adoption within the organization.
  • Moving up the maturity path in stages allows a team to incorporate recent experience and results before advancing to the next stage.

As far as data governance and stewardship are concerned, she made the following points:

  • Success is dependent on a joint effort between the business and IT.
  • Don't underestimate the importance of domain knowledge.
  • Dedicated resources are required to ensure accuracy, quality, completeness, and timeliness.
  • Tool flexibility requires rigorous policies.

In terms of architecture for data applications, she recommends the following:

  • All data (even errors) should be mastered within the hub. (Mastering bad data is better than data disappearing completely, she said.)
  • Try to keep pace with industry advancements.
  • Integration and strong partnership with external data providers is critical.
  • MDM costs go beyond software costs.

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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