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Multidomain Master Data Management for Business Success


Master data management is used to improve the outcomes of an organization’s most critical business processes. By enabling organizations to optimize enterprise master data, MDM can help companies get the intended value out of these activities and tune them to become strategic differentiators. Most companies start to master data with a single domain, usually the data type they consider to be most critical to their success. For some, it is customer data. For others, it is product data. However, once their initial implementation is in place, companies soon realize they can achieve a significant increase in business benefits through mastering additional domains and the relationships between them. 

The business case for most MDM implementations is driven by the business imperatives of corporate leaders whose operational processes are substantially compromised by poor-quality data. Through their MDM successes, these leaders have learned that mastering multiple data domains can help them meet more of their business needs. For example, identifying customer buying patterns requires the ability to master both customer and product data, while streamlining supply chain issues depends on access to accurate product and supplier information. By mastering multiple data domains and managing their interrelationships, companies will see shorter cycle times, reduced (or controlled) costs, improved marketing, and better forecasting, planning, and transactional and analytical outcomes, which translate into measurable revenue and margin benefits.

Master data is the  data that is most important to an organization successfully reaching its goals; it is the building blocks of every critical business transaction. Master data is typically redundantly stored and managed within multiple back office, front office, e-commerce, and business intelligence systems. Without MDM, these critical data tends to stay out of sync because it’s not integrated.

All data that flows through an enterprise can be categorized into six different types: who, what, when, where, how and why. Master data is about who, what, when and where. “Who” data is about the parties of interest that matter most to a business or organization including stakeholders, benefactors, customers, suppliers, owners, providers, partners, etc. “What” data is about the things that an organization buys, creates, provides or sells. “When” data is about the overlays of time, such as calendar years (which differ by culture and include cultural, religious and governmental holidays.) and time periods specific to an organization (fiscal year, product release schedule, marketing calendar and calendars for markets that an organization sells into). “Where” data includes locations in space, such as where people and organizations are located; where products are manufactured, shipped, sold, stored and inventoried; and the distribution locations and delivery addresses where they are shipped and used. “When” data is only mastered by a few organizations, because most companies rely instead on core functions within their applications and databases to properly tag events with dates and times.

Some organizations will get more value from mastering some kinds of master data, and others will benefit from mastering others. A shipping company, for example, gets far more value from mastering location data than a company that sells services over the Internet, which may care more about “when” data so it can time online promotions more effectively.

Mastering Multidomains

Whether they’re actively managing them or not, companies rely on understanding multiple master data domains and the relationships between them to successfully manage their business. Commercial enterprises derive substantial benefit from knowing about their customers, contacts, products, locations, licenses, suppliers and the relationships between them. Therefore, it is essential that organizations manage the integrity of that master data. Similarly, it is important for health care providers to master their patients, providers, treatments, facilities, labs and tests data. In fact, most organizations are best served by mastering who, what, when and where data types discussed above, but they also must manage the interdependencies between these domains.

What do we mean by the interdependencies of master data domains? Let’s consider product data (what data) as an example. Product master data doesn’t exist independently from other kinds of master data. Products exist for a period of time (when data), and have specific “calendars” associated with their creation, public introduction, marketing literature, first shipment, campaigns, market withdrawal and obsolescence. Physical products also have ties to various locations (where data). They were manufactured at a certain place, inspected or tested at another, and packaged, shipped, distributed and sold at other locations. When a company sells a product to a customer (“who” data), they want to know where and when that sale took place, where the product was shipped or downloaded, where it was installed and any conditions for its use. If product master data is integrated with time, location and customer master data, companies will benefit from better forecasting and planning, reduced costs and better margins.

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