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Next Generation Master Data Management: Powered for Business

Originally published May 11, 2010

Early master data management (MDM) deployments provided IT departments with high quality and trustworthy data to solve data warehouse problems and improve business analytics for back office operations. Although these first-generation MDM implementations delivered value, they did not deliver the full potential for providing enterprise-wide front- and back-office benefits to organizations.

The next generation of MDM extends benefits beyond corporate IT departments to business users and their daily applications. Companies that provide front-line employees with more accurate and complete data can realize many added benefits.

First-Generation MDM – Augmenting Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing

The primary user of first-generation MDM was a business or data analyst at an IT organization or business intelligence group, focused on solving analytical problems. Most did not concentrate on understanding individual customers, but rather a collective mass of clients with similar characteristics. As a result, many first-generation MDM implementations did not reach the front of a data lifecycle or directly impact actual customer interactions.

Early adopters of MDM technologies, who realized value from their past deployments, are now focused on expanding MDM’s use beyond the back office to enhance customer service and other front-office processes.

For example, an insurance company that deployed first-generation MDM used it to help determine which customers purchased auto insurance policies and created a marketing campaign to sell them additional products and services. With the move to the next generation of MDM, the insurance company can now apply MDM to its CRM system so that when a customer calls, the agent at the point of service knows what, if any, products the customer owns in addition to auto insurance.

Extending MDM’s Power to Business Applications

With the next generation of MDM, organizations can experience a higher level of value as enhanced data is delivered enterprise-wide, enabling new capabilities that weren’t possible when data was housed in application silos. MDM can augment existing applications and enable new applications by integrating MDM-enhanced data into existing applications via plug-ins, data services, or deployed as new horizontal or vertical applications.

Boosting Existing Applications with MDM Data and Capabilities

Salesforce.com is a customer relationship management tool that tracks customers, prospects and associated contacts at organizations. It’s an extremely powerful application for managing and nurturing a company’s interactions with customers and sales prospects, and can deliver even more with MDM. By leveraging next generation plug-in technologies, trusted master data functionality can be easily, tightly and transparently integrated so it appears to users as part of Salesforce.com.
  • Search capability – Salesforce.com is not strong in its ability to search and accurately determine if a company or individual is already a customer, which can result in duplicate entries of contacts and accounts. MDM search capability makes searching more powerful, flexible and delivers more accurate results.
  • Record duplication – Once duplicates are entered, it is difficult for Salesforce.com to recognize them and weed them out. Using MDM technology, duplicate entries can be identified. Lists can be automatically generated and the appropriate person notified to review and determine whether records should be merged or left separate.
  • Data augmentation – Salesforce.com does not provide an easy way to augment records with third-party reference data – such as standardizing addresses or matching customers with reference data from Dun & Bradstreet or Equifax. MDM software can match its data against Salesforce.com records and augment them by feeding in third-party reference data about a customer.
In addition, external data can be matched to master data. Plug-ins enable leads to be loaded into Salesforce.com, without creating duplicates, because lists are checked against trusted master data to identify any duplicates beforehand.

Increasing Value with New MDM-Powered Applications

New lightweight MDM-powered applications designed to manage newly accessible data offer the best way to increase the value of MDM. These applications can easily be customized to meet individual customer requirements.
With customer and sales territory information, information can be readily assembled from multiple data sources to manage sales territories much more precisely than in the past. This results in the need for new tools and applications to enable sales managers to manage these data sets. MDM-powered sales territory management applications increase value to organizations through:
  • Improved access to sales data – For the first time, sales management teams have easy access to three sets of data: customers, sales territories, and employees (including the multiple hierarchical relationships that exist within and across those data sets).
  • Enhanced sales territory management – Sales managers organize and analyze the data to better manage sales territories.
  • Increased management of data sets – Sales managers control the intersection of these data sets in ways that were not possible before.
  • Maximized trusted data – Once the system is in place, it feeds trusted data back into compensation calculation systems, customer relationship management systems, and marketing databases.
Empowering Vertical Industry Applications with MDM

Enterprise-wide MDM deployments can present new opportunities to business users in vertical markets such as financial services, government, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, retail and telecommunications. An example of where MDM creates new possibilities is in the financial services industry when new customer accounts are created. This process, called customer onboarding, traditionally occurred in specific systems dedicated to each line of business – checking, loans, savings, etc. – because it was almost impossible to create consistent processes across the enterprise. Consistent onboarding is especially important for institutions with large numbers of commercial customers or high net-worth individuals, as they prefer a fairly controlled process for creating a new customer account.
  • Financial services companies that set up MDM enterprise-wide are able to easily deploy consistent customer onboarding across all lines of business with new, lightweight applications.
  • Customer onboarding applications can take a customer service rep through the process of creating a new customer account, including automatically verifying address standards, performing credit checks, augmenting information or validating credit scores.
  • The application can also prompt the rep to compare a new customer against a government watch list to meet reporting requirements.
  • Once the customer onboarding process is complete, data automatically flows from the MDM system into the line of business specific system. 
  • Customer onboarding via an MDM-powered application eliminates the need to enter customer information multiple times, as data can flow into additional business systems if, for example, customers indicate an interest in buying investment securities or opening a corporate line of credit.

Delivering Enterprise-Wide Value with MDM-Powered Applications

Companies can provide enterprise-wide access to more trustworthy data, automate manual processes and enable new capabilities by enhancing existing applications with MDM data and capabilities and deploying new MDM-powered applications. By using next generation MDM-powered plug-ins, services and applications throughout the enterprise, companies can improve operational efficiency and employee productivity, increase customer service and satisfaction, and deliver other business values that provide an immediate return on investment.

SOURCE: Next Generation Master Data Management: Powered for Business

  • Jon Case
    Jon Case is senior director of enterprise products at Initiate, an IBM Company. He is responsible for master data management (MDM) product strategy and sales consulting for Initiate’s Enterprise sector. Through his MDM experience, which spans implementation, sales consulting, architecture, and product management, Jon has gained insight into past, current, and future MDM trends. He has advised numerous clients on strategies for bringing the value of MDM from the infrastructure or back-office level to the front-office to enable more effective business solutions.


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