In the age of big data, it’s a well-kept secret that an alarming majority of executives do not have the insights they need to make data-driven business decisions. There is a big data logjam of sorts occurring at most businesses, where very few executives can see across siloed systems to get the insights they need to do their job. Too often, systems collecting data within a business were implemented to automate a specific function.In most instances, no one is charged with pulling all this information together so the data continues to solve specific functional problems but does not address the larger opportunities within the business.

In the past, businesses thought that a one-time IT project approach could solve this issue. This gave birth to data quality projects or much more ambitious enterprise-wide projects such as an enterprise data warehouse or a multi-channel CRM system. However, around one year after rollout, organizations found they were running into the same problem again due to the volatility of data and the multiplication of data sources to be considered for data driven process.

Master Data Management (MDM) is the answer to this struggle. Simply put, MDM is “the technology-enabled discipline in which business and IT work together to ensure the uniformity, accuracy, stewardship, semantic consistency and accountability of the enterprise’s official shared master data assets,” according to Gartner. MDM enables executives to take ownership of the data that fuels their critical data-driven processes and delivers a comprehensive picture of meaningful data insights across the business.

There are a few specific ways MDM can be used to build a business. They include:

1. Analytical MDM

The goal of here is to ensure that the highly shared data that drive key business decisions such as customer segmentation, forecasting, or pricing, are easily accessible, quality-proofed, accurate and unified. An example of this is a media company in charge of large multi-media and multi-channel campaigns such as the launch of a new consumer product.

From mobile to social networks, from online advertising to on demand TV, the number of potential parameters for campaigns has expanded dramatically -- and the opportunity to measure the return for precision marketing has expanded along with it. There is a need to calculate and share the ROI and efficiency of campaigns both at a detailed and aggregated level across those parameters. Analytical MDM is the backbone to provide accurate and sanctioned information for analytics and business intelligence. This not only helps to businesses to understand the impact of each dollar spent, but also enables them to to better adjust marketing activities based on their efficiency. 

2. 360-degree Customer View

Here, the system gathers all of the data about a single customer or product, including highly detailed transactional or interactional information. MDM is certainly not the only way to gather customer information, but it is the most effective. In fact, by 2020, 75% of organizations that neglect MDM and EIM while creating a 360-degree view of their customers to support the customer experience will adversely impact customers via the use of inaccurate data during customer interactions, Gartner predicts.

MDM enables businesses to connect and unify data about the customer’s entire journey – this is incredibly empowering and fosters exceptional customer experiences. A salesperson or customer service representative can leverage this 360-degree view to offer better, more personalized experiences to their customers on a daily basis. In the past, this 360-degree view was considered a holy grail, as it captures a moving picture that may evolve faster than the pace of IT system evolution.

Nowadays, big data can come to the rescue to better address the underlying technology challenges preventing organizations from transforming into a data-driven business. For instance, MDM and big data are central to a dramatic move towards personalization currently taking place in the healthcare industry. MDM enables providers to build Patient Data Platforms than are fueling this transformation towards personalized healthcare. Data-empowered physicians can be better prepared to treat an individual they barely know by leaning on data-driven insights about that particular individual. In the healthcare industry, it is critically important that patient data be accurate and secured - MDM can deliver that level of reliability.

3. Operational MDM

This enables all marketing, sales and service systems to work together on behalf of the customer and brings the context of customers or products across customer touch points. The result is greater efficiency and utility for customers.

For instance, operational MDM enables an online channel to automatically identify a customer and allow one-click purchases or real-time recommendations. Consider travel and transportation, where a customer journey often includes a multi-channel journey.

An individual may research online, book through a call center or at a point of sale, interact with the help desk of a hotel or connect to its Wi-Fi service through a mobile application. Populating this customer’s context in real-time across all of those touch points and leveraging it for personalized recommendations can indeed transform a traveler’s journey. In this industry, providing those kinds of personalized offerings has evolved from a competitive differentiator to a must-have to stay in the business.

Think about the impact in the taxi industry of the now well-known “one tap to ride” action from mobile applications that allows you to order a driver depending on your location and proceed to payment automatically. This all started with the capability to share contextual data about customers, suppliers and locations on a massive scale, and ended in a disruptive and highly profitable service.

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