Have you ever thought about Master Data as a Service? Well, some companies are thinking this way. If this happens, a major paradigm shift will occur. This entry looks at MDaaS - and it's possibilities for changing the way we do business entirely. Who knows, maybe EII vendors could play in this space very very well. After all, they are the ones with Niche technology that really fits this space to begin with.
I'll blog on Master Data, the hype - the shenanigans, and the fears in my next entry. For now, realize that master data is important to the enterprise for many reasons.
Master Data means a number of things to a number of people, I'm no exception - master data to me are literally the keys to standardized kingdom. The cycle repeats itself in everything we build, first there's a new idea, then everyone implements their interpretation of this new idea as a gain, a benefit, the fact that they are different seemingly gives them "an-edge." Then some of these edges fail, best practices and lessons learned emerge, and then all the smart industry implementers begin to follow what really works - common ground, standardization, convergence of thoughts - then the real players emerge.
This is what is happening with Master Data Management solutions. However I think there are a couple of companies who are thought leaders in this space who are making a difference today. One (of course) is my company, Myers-Holum, Inc. Another is IBM Professional Services, another is Cap-Gemini, Intelligent Solutions, Object River, Kalido, and of course my respective peers (here on B-Eye Network) like David Loshin who write about MDM implementations.
But something caught my eye the other day, Cap-Gemini was saying that as a best practice, they take their customers' master data and house it off-site, so that the customer is not impacted by the machines, hardware, extra support for master data. They enable the master-data set with web-services for their customer, and they surround it with Enterprise Metadata (or my term: Master Metadata).
When I first saw this, I thought: no, not possible that a company would release their intellectual capital (which master data really is like golden keys to a kingdom when implemented properly), and allow it to be stored off-site. Then I started thinking about differentiation and then about standardization.
I realized very quickly the same thing applies to master data that applies to SaaS - standardization of particular parts, geographical locations, customers, and so on - as long as the data can be "secured", treated with integrity, delivered on time, standardized and made available - why not put it out as a service? Data Warehouses as a Service never really took off, and I'm not sure it ever will (maybe one day), but MD as a service, that's different - why? It's operational data when we look at it, we deal with transactional based information, now information - small numbers of rows going through a web-service request.
What a gold mine! Now imagine you get common data from Dunn & Bradstreet, you clean it up, and you standardize it over a web-service request, then you get common local census data (like the post-office does), and address data, and you intermix these as master data sets, then release them as MDaaS, you've got an interesting solution for the industry.
Suppose you load company profiles, SIC codes, and other public information - what happens? You can serve many different customers at the same time with the same data (master data that is standardized). A "virtually compressed" image of the data, because you don't have to store different copies for each implementation that is built. Voilla - keeping costs down for the customers of the service, the master data is updated, and pushed when changed to the customers who have signed an SLA with you.
I think Cap-Gemini takes this one-step further, by offering MDaaS for ALL the data sets the customer has, in agreement to keep certain company information confidential. Of course if Cap-Gemini or any other MDaaS system is compromised there will be a lot of stirr in the ethics community, and compliance will become an issue. Cap-Gemini must abide by in-sourcing, and different country rules, particularly with a global enterprise.
I think transactional Master Data as a Service is one wave of the future that I would ride. It's potentially a huge wave if it can be implemented properly, and security concerns can be addressed with encryption, compression, and proper data access. After all, the true nature of SOA is services, regardless of whether or not they are in-house or out-of-house, the true nature of Master Data is consolidation and standardization, regardless of company utilizing that information.
If you have any thoughts on why this would work, or wouldn't work - or what you think it would take to make it successful, I'd love to hear from you.
Cheers for now,
CTO, Myers-Holum, Inc (http://www.MyersHolum.com)
Posted October 28, 2006 6:13 AM
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