Greg would like to thank Sid Priyadarshi, Accenture Information Management senior executive, for his contribution to this month's column.

Have you ever experienced the frustration of searching for information you know you have but can't find? Perhaps your data is in too many places. Our latest research shows that 34 percent of respondents said they do not manage master data much beyond individual systems.

Inconsistent, inaccurate or inaccessible information could make the difference between keeping pace with the competition and losing market share. For executives seeking instant access to high quality information, sharing, classifying and defining data is essential. Master data management may be the answer for organizations seeking agility and high performance. 

Purchasing decisions are driven by many factors, but with today's constant bombardment of information, it is essential to understand buying preferences to effectively target and retain customers. From the consumer's viewpoint, lack of time and desire for choice are key elements in decision-making - and they are fully prepared to use digital channels to ensure they get the best price. 

MDM is a set of processes to create and maintain a single view of a customer, product or other core reference data that is shared across systems. It is multidisciplinary in nature, involving business process analysis, data profiling, data cleansing, data consolidation and reconciliation, data migration and data governance. It's fairly static, acting as the foundation for a better information management strategy.

Why MDM? 

MDM is not a quick fix or another application to maintain. It is the bedrock for successful analytics and operational initiatives. Why does this matter? Because CIOs indicated they are serious about managing their information. 

  • Responses to our survey "Cultivating High Performance through Information Management" showed organizations are: 
  • Targeting an overall information management strategy. Seventy-five percent of organizations want a comprehensive, enterprise-wide information management in three years' time.
  • Investing in information management to help them outperform the competition, rather than merely helping them stay in the game.
  • Recognizing the value effective information management brings to their business.
  • Additionally, 98 percent expressed the need to have, at a minimum, an organized MDM and sharing program in place for key data. 

Despite this vote of confidence from CIOs, many organizations, hampered by misconceptions of complexity, are slow to capitalize on the underpinning qualities of MDM. In seeking value, large organizations with multiple lines of business may have taken the route recommended by systems integrators, solution providers and product vendors for a single tool or solution deployment. Adopting such an approach has often failed to produce effective results, possibly due to a "silver bullet" mentality that was unlikely to ever reap rewards.
Other organizations, uncertain where to begin, may have dabbled with a single master data attribute (such as customer or product data) but became disheartened after the benefits appeared to dwindle in the mid- to long term. Unsurprisingly, the true benefits are to be found when two or more attributes are combined, for example, when customer data is aligned with product information, or when product data is aligned with vendor information. 

Whatever the reasons for hesitation, we believe it's "better late than never" for MDM. In our experience, just as you cannot build a house without a foundation, so MDM is a vital component of effective information management strategy. MDM provides a single source of the truth enabled through business process management and data quality tools and technologies to realize untold value.


Delivering High Performance 

MDM requires comprehensive planning. Organizations pursuing high performance must especially consider two things. 1) Metadata management organizes data and information related to it and focuses on the documentation aspect of the analytics program, typically providing business, operational and technical metadata - critical detail across every aspect of the organization. 2) The long-term viability of a large-scale data vision is dependent upon an organization successfully handling the dynamics (people and processes) attributed to data governance.

A Solid Platform for Growth 

Effective MDM maximizes resources, centralizes data, improves customer experiences and increases efficiencies to enable long-term success and growth. MDM can positively benefit your ability to accelerate more useful, flexible systems such as a service-oriented architecture approach. 

Typically, information is scattered across a number of different sources, but a holistic solution saves time in the short term and positions organizations competitively in the long term. In this way, rather than spending time looking in multiple places for elusive information, organizations can focus on achieving high performance.

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