Worldwide master data management (MDM) software revenue totaled about $1.3 billion in 2008, a 24.1 percent increase from 2007 revenue of $1 billion, making the market for MDM one of the fastest-growing software segments, according to Gartner, Inc. The market will experience steady growth through 2012 when revenue will total $2.8 billion.


Gartner analysts said that despite the current economic crisis, ongoing requirements for businesses to increase effectiveness, reduce costs and meet compliance requirements are driving the adoption of MDM technologies.


Master data is the consistent and uniform set of identifiers and extended attributes that describe the core entities of the enterprise and are used across multiple business processes. Some examples of core entities are parties (customers, prospects, people, citizens, employees, vendors, suppliers or trading partners), places (locations, offices, regional alignments or geographies) and things (accounts, assets, policies, products or services). Groupings of master data include organizational hierarchies, sales territories, product rollups, pricing lists, customer segmentations and preferred suppliers.


MDM is a process that may be workflow-driven or transactional in nature, in which business units and IT departments collaborate, cleanse, publish and protect common information assets that must be shared across the enterprise. MDM ensures the consistency, accuracy, stewardship and accountability for the core information of the enterprise.


Gartner’s latest forecast for MDM software comes at a time when the full impact of the financial "meltdown" is unknown and therefore hinges on the ability and resolve of businesses to maintain some discretionary budgets.


North America and Western Europe held 85.7 percent of MDM software spending in 2007. North America is expected to exceed $800 million in MDM software revenue in 2009, but it will grow at a slower pace than other regions through 2012. Europe, the second-largest market, is expected to grow at about 25 percent during the next two years, coming close to sharing parity with North America by 2012. Asia/Pacific, with 6 percent of the addressable market today, is expected to have the highest growth, reaching 9 percent share by 2012.


With regard to industry, the largest markets for MDM in 2007 were manufacturing, retail and financial services, which combined accounted for 53 percent of the market. Gartner expects that these industries will remain dominant throughout the forecast period as current adopters continue to expand their MDM initiatives and because of a vast addressable market that has underinvested in MDM technologies. Industries that are forecast to offer greater-than-average growth rates include communications, government, healthcare and utilities.


Nevertheless, despite Gartner’s optimistic outlook, several challenges still exist for MDM software vendors. A stall may occur as businesses wait until MDM’s value is widely proved and as they wait to purchase technology to support most MDM data domains from a single vendor, as has occurred in other markets, freezing and limiting opportunity. In 2008, we have seen an increasing number of organizations facing challenges in their MDM programs because they have been too IT-led or because of inadequate technology.


Gartner advises MDM vendors to continue to improve their multi-domain, multi-use case capabilities while also focusing on industry-specific capabilities to maximize their appeal. Gartner also recommends offering flexibility on payment terms with customers to enable them to weather the current economic period and buy new products and extend projects in the short term. Finally, Gartner advocates helping key stakeholders in MDM create a strong business case that focuses on hard benefits, such as compliance, risk management and costs savings, as well as a softer benefit, such as supplier and customer experience management.


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