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Journeys with enterprise master data management

planning a master data management (MDM) implementation tend to have important
questions regarding vendors, strategies and ensuring success and ROI. Fortunately,
these companies can learn and benefit from the experiences of organizations
that have pioneered MDM and organize their efforts around a common set of

first-generation MDM adopters have been able to build on their initial
implementations to address other important business problems. Observing
these efforts, certain IT analysts and industry observers laying out models for
MDM implementations advocate an incremental approach, usually based on a particular
data type or within a single system. Others advocate targeting a single
architectural style and then building on that implementation to address other

This type of
approach follows a conservative technology maturity curve to keep data
governance requirements in check and the overall risk of failure as low as
possible. These are legitimate concerns and many organizations have been
able to realize modest gains in solving their master data problems by following
these precepts. However, limiting the scope of your initial MDM
implementation is also likely to constrict the potential for greater success
and return on investment down the road.

The true promise of MDM is that
it enables the organization to create a single, clean and correct version of
its most important reference data and eliminate the business process
inefficiencies that arise from conflicts in various data sources. This is
why it is far more effective to organize MDM implementations around specific
business problems such as compliance objectives, business process optimization,
customer on-boarding or financial risk management.

In fact, MDM implementations targeted to specific business problems, rather than
around narrow technological concerns, put the organization in a far better
position to expand and build on its early successes. With a
business-focused approach to MDM, the organization can deploy a complete
solution rather than an incremental one. It is still an incremental
approach — where the focus is aimed at solving a circumscribed business problem
— but one in which you are putting in place the complete set of tools needed to
solve larger master data issues. It also enables your data stewards and
other stakeholders to gain crucial knowledge and experience with MDM tools and best

When an MDM
initiative is launched to first solve one of the critical business problems
within the company, it becomes far easier to turn the solution toward
addressing the next critical business problem. For instance, a
pharmaceutical company that used MDM initially to improve compliance reporting
could easily refocus on solving issues in optimizing the allocation and
alignment of marketing and sales resources. Had the same company
initially focused on solving master data issues within a single data warehouse,
this ability to quickly change focus would depend entirely on the compatibility
of the underlying technological resources.

Moreover, with a business-centric approach, the next business problem to be
solved could be handled within the same line of business or in a different one.
How the company expands its initial MDM solution to solve subsequent business
problems within or across multiple lines of business depends upon the
centralized or decentralized operational culture of the organization.  As
more business problems are solved using MDM, more business processes are
streamlined, yielding even more benefits for the organization.

No two MDM
journeys are the same.  Companies within the same industry might approach
MDM strategy quite differently – some may use a single, enterprise-wide MDM
system to solve all of their business problems while others may use local MDM
solutions for each of their organizations and roll them up to a global
enterprise-level MDM system. An approach that might work for one company
might not necessarily work for another.  

Whatever the approach may be, or even if you do not plan to evolve the solution
beyond the initial deployment for now, the best insurance is to have a flexible
MDM technology capable of supporting the company’s current and future
requirements. Achieving a successful MDM journey will reap many rewards
provided they are well thought out and due diligence is performed right from
the start.

Ravi Shankar is the senior director of
product marketing for Siperian Inc. You may reach him at [email protected].

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