The past couple of years have seen a shift in the delivery of information management solutions. There is a move away from individual data integration and data quality initiatives managed by IT departments toward master data management (MDM) and an increased focus on cohesion between IT and business units. This creates a change in how information is applied within the organization. Until recently, IT was perceived as separate from business, with the management of information systems initiatives governed by technical staff and little contact with the business units they support. Although business and IT are not always run as separate entities, in many cases both sides do not understand the value of the other beyond IT supporting business functions through the use of technology.
As information becomes more valuable to organizations and with a move toward analytics that go beyond transactional reporting, the way data is collected and managed reflects overall business processes. This means that the information identified, captured and analyzed is driven by business problems as opposed to reviewing activities that have occurred in the past. The shift in data collection translates into the need for involvement from business units to identify the information required for better decision-making. Consequently, the role of business units in the management of organization wide data-driven initiatives become more important to ensure the successful delivery and management of data. Therefore, organizations put greater emphasis on initiatives that take into account an overall view of data that corresponds to the creation of a 360-degree view of customer, product and process.
The Move Toward MDM and Data Governance
The move toward organization wide adoption of MDM and data governance is still at its infancy, but provides insight into the future convergence of business and IT. Although the alignment of business an IT are discussed at length, actual strategy and implementation are slow at best. This is because one sure fire way to align business and IT across multiple organizations and industries does not exist unique corporate cultures and business needs limit the ability of consultants, industry experts and organizations themselves from concretizing a strategy that works in multiple situations.
The general move toward full MDM options and an added focus on the managing of that data and those initiatives through data governance creates a new need for business units to become more involved in IT based initiatives. Even though IT departments may be the experts on where data resides and how it interrelates, only the business units that deal with day-to-day business decisions understand the full business impact of capturing and analyzing the right data.
Collaboration between Business and IT and the Link to MDM and Data Governance
Now, why and how do MDM, data governance and business/IT cohesion fit together? As the market moves from technology-based projects toward using data to gain a better understanding of what is happening in a respective industry, organizational use of data shifts from being technology-oriented to being business-driven. For instance, the concept of creating a single view of the customer, although a subset of MDM, really has the goal of increasing the customer experience, which in turn hopefully increases customer loyalty, perceptions of products and services, and ultimately translates into future and continued sales. The examples are endless and go beyond simple transactional processes.
The creation of a central repository of data to serve as a reference point for various entities enables data that resides in multiple systems to talk to one another. Once data can be referenced, business units can leverage that information to access a wealth of data from one centralized access point. This is great for organizations need to access various data stores and gather information about products, customers, suppliers and the like. However, a simple repository without a way to manage the interaction between data may not offer organizations the edge they require to maintain a competitive edge within their respective markets. This is where the cohesion between business and IT and the relationship with MDM and data governance initiatives converge.
MDM and data governance go hand in hand. The former revolves around the consolidation of data to create a centralized data reference point (depending on the hub structure chosen) and data governance involves the business processes and the structures put in place to manage the organizations data, with best results coming from relevant business units taking ownership over relevant processes and data points. Unfortunately, business units are only now seeing the value of getting involved in data management.
One way to enable strong decision-making is to understand how a business works and tie that knowledge to the data used to drive those decisions. For instance, the identification of what information is required to ensure customer satisfaction by bringing the right combination of data to the right people within the organization. Obviously, data alone cannot ensure a customers satisfaction with a product, service or company in general. This requires strong customer relationships as well that are separate from data itself, but interrelates as the information collected actually allows organizations to provide better customer experience management (CEM), etc.
The Business Value
As organizations continue to address how to get the best value out of their information systems, collaboration between business units and IT will be the factor that draws successful management of MDM and data governance initiatives. It is not enough for organizations to take advantage of MDM initiatives alone. Without data governance and longterm collaboration between business and IT, an organizations management of data initiatives may not translate into the benefits and competitive advantage hoped for.
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