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A Journey to Adaptive Master Data Management

Originally published October 12, 2010

Master data management (MDM) is a top priority for many organizations as they aim to deliver and leverage trusted business information. Master data encompasses high-value information such as customer, supplier, partner, product, materials, and employee data. It’s critical for addressing business problems and is at the heart of every business transaction, application and decision.  Many organizations are deploying enterprise-wide MDM solutions to meet the demands of entering new markets, as well as financial and legislative demands that put increasing pressure on organizations.

Companies that have started their MDM journey have realized some significant gains. Manufacturers are managing their supply chains more efficiently and healthcare providers are delivering more accurate and comprehensive patient records. National, state and local governments are providing a more complete view of information and better serving individuals.

However, these organizations recognize that MDM is not a destination, but a journey.  Companies and agencies are not static and environments and goals change over time. As a result, many organizations need to adapt their MDM deployments to address new and wider sets of business requirements, and enable different deployment and implementation architecture options. MDM will also need to expand beyond customer and product data into other data and relationships and provide access to information-rich systems for broader use.

This means that organizations should look for an adaptive MDM solution that supports their short- and long-term strategy for solving business and IT challenges resulting from poor data quality.

Characteristics of an Adaptive MDM Solution

1. Address a Wide Set of Business Requirements Within and Across Industries

To improve business processes and address common challenges, an organization must reduce its risk of having bad data. The most important characteristic of an adaptive MDM solution is to provide access to an accurate and complete view of data. In addition, adaptive MDM solutions need to address and leverage relationships in data and identify “hidden” customer and vendor management opportunities.

By supporting enterprise standards, which prevents the need to spend unnecessary time and expense building proprietary systems, adaptive MDM will grow with the business. It will offer the ability to expand to meet changing functional and data needs, rather than rebuilding or ripping and replacing.

With these characteristics, you’ll be able to demonstrate the business value of implementation quickly – and provide a way for organizations to rapidly master two to three systems across one or two data objects.

2. Provide Flexible Deployment and Implementation Options

Business value drives MDM requirements and pace of adoption. As a result, adaptive MDM solutions should be based on an architecture that supports adding incremental value over time and enables an organization to begin its deployment with one architectural style and migrate to a different approach as dictated by business needs.

An organization’s criteria to determine the best architectural style are likely to change over time as a result of changes in funding, ownership, governance and business processes. Therefore, an MDM solution must be flexible, scalable and enable multiple or hybrid deployment options. Also, the MDM solution should be able to withstand any performance requirements, effectively handle growth and change, and meet pressing business challenges and opportunities.

3. Enable Information-Rich Views of Data

Adaptive MDM solutions play a significant role in the lifecycle of data and its governance. They create unique and complete versions of the truth unlike any other system in the organization.  However, MDM is only one piece of a broader enterprise information management solution that also includes business intelligence, information integration and content management. MDM solutions enable businesses to make better decisions by providing access to complete, rich views of master data, and to additional information-rich content such as analytics, unstructured content and data warehouses. Given that 80% of an organization’s data is unstructured, an MDM solution must also provide a clear understanding of unstructured and master data, as well as enabling views into how they relate.  

Adaptive MDM should provide a pre-configured bridge linking unstructured data, such as images or documents, to their corresponding master records. It should also automatically link updates as unstructured content changes or is manipulated. This will produce information-rich views across multiple channels. As an example, state or local governments may want to provide a way for all agencies to access an image of a birth certificate, so the individual only has to provide the information once and it is available to any agency that requires it.

4. Master Common, Unique and Industry-Specific Data Types

Most organizations start by mastering customer or product data, but soon realize there is value in mastering other unique and industry-specific data types. MDM solutions should enable easy and rapid development and deployment of the most common data types, such as customer, product and account; other general business types, such as location and transactions; and custom domains. MDM must also address specific industry needs and support industry standard data models: patients and providers in healthcare; ACORD in insurance (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development); and persons, objects, locations and events (POLE) in government.

An adaptive MDM solution will support multiple domains, understand cross-domain relationships of data and link to additional content as needed. It will provide better, cleaner, more accurate and complete data about customers and the products they purchase to help companies increase revenue and respond quickly and easily to existing and changing business needs.

SOURCE: A Journey to Adaptive Master Data Management

  • Rick Clements
    Rick was the key strategist responsible for elevating Initiate Systems' ranking by the most recognized industry analysts to "leader" in the category of Master Data Management for Customer Data. With the acquisition of Initiate by IBM, Rick Clements is now responsible for global product strategy and marketing for the IBM InfoSphere MDM portfolio. Rick can be reached at clemenri@us.ibm.com.


 

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