Select master data management solution based on individual need

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For the past several years, companies across numerous industries have been warming up to the idea of multi-domain master data management (MDM) and its promise of synthesizing corporate data about customers, products, vendors and locations, in a uniform manner using the same processes and tools. Customers today have a wide range of choices for MDM, from custom applications to single-domain products, and industry-specialized products to multi-domain generalists. 

There has been a growing market awareness and an increased appreciation for MDM solutions that are not dedicated or limited to only one subject area or domain, such as customer data integration (CDI) or product information management (PIM) solutions.  Nor are organizations convinced that the best solution for their particular business need is a data management software platform whose major claim to fame is based on exclusively serving only that particular industry. Rather, there's every indication that as the MDM marketplace continues to expand and mature, so does the appeal of a single MDM solution. However, the single solution needs to be flexible enough to comprehensively expand and support several subject areas, disparate processes and industry-specific use cases.

This is not to say, however, that MDM software specializing in specific subject areas is on the wane. Indeed, one need only consider Gartner's ongoing Magic Quadrants for Customer MDM and Product MDM, and Forrester's CDI Wave, to understand that single-domain MDM continues to thrive. Neither is it a forgone conclusion, that a multi-domain solution trying to make inroads into, say, the banking industry will routinely win deals against one of its competitors who has dedicated years of product development towards developing very specific data models and user interfaces for the financial services sector. 

Thus, in a competitive sales cycle, where two account executives are on either side of the issue, there is a short list of generic pros and cons that represent a potentially misleading dichotomy.

Keep in mind that the decision of multi-domain versus single domain is only one scoring factor in selecting an MDM strategy, and it may not even be a decisive one. Individual vendor solutions have their own strength and weaknesses. Still, it makes sense to step back and actually evaluate which of the system qualifications in the CDI configuration is exclusive to the management of customer data, and which functionality is shared by both single and multi-domain approaches.  

So does the multi-domain paradigm suggest “Jack of all trades, and Master of none?”  Does the concept provide too much accommodation? Is it too flexible or too open?  Not surprisingly, the answers to these questions are vendor-driven. Today, there is the concept that a multi-domain solution would also provide add-ons, or optional modules supporting specific industries or domains, while retaining its multi-domain support and architecture. 

MDM is still evolving, as is its mission in a continuously changing enterprise data management landscape. All of which suggests that in the future significant developments for multi and single-domain systems will continue to be outwardly directed by emerging enterprise technologies, changing business conditions and – of course – the need to acquire a new competitive edge.

Charles Greenberg is director of business development at Data Foundations, a vendor of master data management and gov­ernance software and solutions.


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