As organizations attempt to gain more value from their data, master data management and data governance have been getting more attention this year. That is especially true as organizations house more of their data in the cloud.

Information Management spoke with John Evans, director of marketing for Magnitude Software, at the recent MDM & Data Governance Summit in San Francisco about what companies he spoke with are most struggling with when it comes to an effective MDM and data governance strategy.

Information Management: What are the most common challenges that you are hearing among conference participants and how do those themes align with that you expected?

John Evans: People are challenged by increasing fragmentation of their data landscape – a mix of on-premises applications and systems with many now running to the cloud. This fragmentation presents two challenges.

Perhaps the most fundamental challenge is data access scope and efficiency. With the sort of distributed landscape that is cloud deployment, simply getting the data from point to point, quickly, can be a challenge.

The other issue is enforcing some form of governance and putting in place stewardship processes that keep data consistent and up to date. This has been a common theme in 2016.

Customers may not be looking to deploy MDM in the cloud initially, but it is more about dealing with cloud data sources and how to bring that data together with on-premises sources. Companies that we do see looking to move their MDM to the cloud tend to be those who are already deployed on-premises and are looking to simplify their stewardship processes through web based interfaces, and streamline their infrastructure by moving it to the cloud.

IM: What are the most common challenges that attendees are facing with regard to master data management and data governance?

Evans: In addition to struggling with a fragmented systems landscape, we are hearing that companies often struggle to decide where to start their MDM initiative. They know they need better quality master data and they know they need better governance over the data, but it is such a large topic that it can be daunting to decide where to begin.

Most recognize that trying to tackle it all in one go will not be successful. Several companies do realize this, and have come in search of a solution for a customer master or a product master. A few are looking to start with something less disruptive and are seeking to begin with reference data that can be shared across the enterprise. But everyone has a vision to expand from their starting point to cover additional domains – e.g. start with customer, but then evolve to include product data or financial data.

IM: What are the most surprising things that you are hearing from attendees regarding their data MDM and governance initiatives?

Evans: Not so much surprised, but glad to hear more companies talking about challenges around making data governance operational. We were talking about this and began developing these capabilities in our offering back in 2010. It’s great that the market is finally awakening to the need for policy management and implementation of the governance process.

IM: What does your company view as the top issues or challenges with regard to MDM and data governance in 2016?

Evans: The issues we heard at the conference about dealing with fragmented source systems and figuring out where to start the MDM initiative are pretty consistent with what we’ve seen more broadly in the market, both in the US and abroad.

IM: How do these themes and challenges relate to our company’s market strategy this year?

Evans: We’ve focused heavily this year in a couple of areas.

One is in the area of broader stewardship capabilities via interfaces that more people are comfortable using. The more you can bring the data stewardship and governance to the people who truly understand how the data is used in the context of running the business, the better. But those interfaces need to enforce data validation so your business processes don’t become infected with bad data or renegade input done without proper oversight and control. With a growing mobile workforce, this means interfaces optimized for people on the go.

A second area of investment is in solutions to enable companies to focus on MDM for a specific domain, as a place to start. We’ve created a new offering focused on customer data, and it uniquely includes integration capabilities that are designed to access and integrate data from cloud sources as well as on-premises sources. The beauty of it is companies can start with customer data, easily access it from their cloud CRM and on-premises systems, and as they evolve to include additional master data types, they can use the same MDM system as ours was built as a multi-domain solution from the start.

Last, but not least, we have added support for connector-based interfaces to local and cloud applications to help our customers gain better real-time access to data in cloud apps like Salesforce, and easily integrate that data with their on-premises data.

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