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Positioning Customer Data Integration and Master Data Management Manager DOs and DON’Ts

Originally published May 24, 2007

In this excerpt from their book, Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth (Wiley), Jill and Evan provide advice for business managers when positioning master data
management in their organizations.

In many ways, customer data integration (CDI) is less a new technology and more a new model. It can transform the way your company processes its customer information. As you begin formulating reasons why master data management might be the right answer in your company, expect to shift some paradigms. In doing so, consider the following Dos and Don’ts:

  • Do take the time to scope out the immediate need for CDI. While an authoritative customer system of record is the desired outcome, where you start is more likely to determine your long-term success. For instance, sales reps for the private banking division of a financial institution didn’t have a holistic understanding of all their customers’ products and tried cross-selling products like mortgage insurance to banking customers who didn’t have home loans. Combining and reconciling products across service and sales channels to a single customer was the on-ramp to a larger, enterprise-wide CDI effort.

  • Don’t ignore difficult people or departments when doing your CDI and master data management (MDM) research. The need for an authoritative source of customer data comes from all corners of the company. People or departments that feel slighted might try their own initiative and become the saboteurs.

  • Do articulate what you and your company mean by “customer.” Sometimes “customer” is used as a catch-all for a variety of parties that may include partners, suppliers, prospects, employees, citizens, taxpayers, re-sellers, contractors, donors, volunteers, or anyone your company does business with and needs to track. In fact, you’re likely to hear the term “party” used to earmark a broader base of constituents.

  • Don’t prematurely announce your MDM effort. Some companies applaud the “bottom up” research approach to support new technology initiatives. Others don’t acknowledge the effort unless it’s been preceded by a vision statement, a project kickoff meeting – ideally including the requisite buffet lunch – and a full-blown business case. Know what type of foundation you need to lay before getting approval for the CDI project.

  • Do begin letting vendors know that you’re interested – but be honest if you haven’t yet secured budget or management support. Like most vendors, the CDI players are more than happy to educate potential buyers of their products and even do a proof-of-concept in order to demonstrate their functionality. What backfires is the project manager or sponsor who doesn’t manage her vendors’ expectations or, worse, who masquerades as someone having more budget and authority than she has. Be honest that you’re in research mode. This is the best way to transform a potential vendor into a valuable business partner.

  • Don’t hang your hat on the market leading vendor. Just because they’re the market leader doesn’t mean they’ll offer the functionality your company needs.

  • Do understand whether there’s a “registry” system in-house that already performs some of the functions represented in the taxonomy categories listed in Chapter 2 of Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth. Many companies needed to reconcile customers from across various systems before the CDI vendors brought their products to market. Make sure you’re not trying to reinvent the wheel.

Editor's Note: This content is excerpted from Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth (0-471-91697-8), by Jill Dyché and Evan Levy, with permission from the publisher John Wiley & Sons. The book can be purchased from Amazon.com or wherever books are sold.

  • Jill DychéJill Dyché

    Jill is a partner co-founder of Baseline Consulting, a technology and management consulting firm specializing in data integration and business analytics. Jill is the author of three acclaimed business books, the latest of which is Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth, co-authored with Evan Levy. Her blog, Inside the Biz, focuses on the business value of IT.

    Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Jill's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

  • Evan Levy

    Evan is a partner and co-founder of Baseline Consulting, a professional services firm concentrating on enterprise data issues. In addition to his executive management responsibilities at Baseline, Evan is actively involved in managing project delivery teams and guiding client solution delivery. He also advises vendors and VC firms on new and emerging product strategies. Considered an industry leader on the topic of data integration and management, Evan is a faculty member of The Data Warehousing Institute. He is co-author of the new book, Customer Data Integration: Reaching a Single Version of the Truth (John Wiley and Sons, 2006).

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