I recently, at the IBM Information on Demand event, got a chance to examine the details of IBM's efforts on MDM along with the rest of the information agenda related advancements (See: “IBM Doubles Down Again on Information Agenda at Annual Conference “). IBM who for many years has made many investments into IBM master data management (MDM) through acquisitions and has stepped forward with a set of significant advancements with InfoSphere MDM Server 9. In this release there are new technology components for supporting more sophisticated MDM. This includes integration with InfoSphere Master Information Hub and the new InfoSphere Master Content for MDM Server that integrates the ability to manage consistent content across the enterprise. IBM has advanced the management of content through integrating their enterprise content management (ECM) to MDM for a more complete and consistent view of information for inside of the enterprise and out to other parties including customers and partners. This is part of building the foundation for defining, integration and sharing content into MDM processes.

The role of MDM for data governance is critical and IBM has improved their workbench, which is designed to be a place for analysts and data stewards to work with IT. Indeed our benchmark research on data governance identified the issue of incompatible tools and disparate information. Supporting master information (content and data) across the enterprise has become much simpler with what they support and is called custom-built domains to manage specific information needs like finance, customer, employee, location and event prebuilt information domains. IBM also has built integration to recently acquired rules provider ILOG. IBM released advancements in the reporting and analysis through the use of IBM Cognos to provide more usable information about content and data as I assessed (See: “IBM Fuses New Generation of Analytics for Deeper Business Optimization“). Most important are the built in capabilities for data integration and for batch or real-time synchronization that have been part of the information management portfolio. IBM has advanced their capabilities for more complex hierarchies and relationships along with providing advanced search to product information. In addition, new user interfaces have made the management and visualization of organizations and hierarchies dramatically easier for analysts and those involved in the data governance processes. Managing a diversity of content and data to a single record definition is the essence of MDM but also part of establishing rigorous information management processes.

IBM is also advancing their specific product information management (PIM) capabilities in their dedicated PIM technology through InfoSphere MDM Server for PIM through usability advancements in authoring, editing, search and even programmatically via Java APIs. This specific PIM product can interoperate and work with InfoSphere MDM Server 9. Our benchmark research into product information management found that organizations are improving PIM for the number one reason of improving data quality as found in 56 percent of organizations. IBM has integrated these capabilities into IBM WebSphere Portal Server for broader access and deployment of product information across the enterprise. They have also integrated it with the InfoSphere Business Glossary and InfoSphere Metadata Workbench, which are essential components of overall information management and essential for PIM for customer facing processes but also across the supply chain. PIM is a critical investment for organizations to save money and time along with maintain acceptable levels of customer satisfaction and IBM has take a large step forward with technology advancements.

Gaining better consistency and quality of information is what IT needs to be addressing more so than just consolidating BI as the underlying ingredient is your organizations most valuable asset. IBM will need to keep this simple and ensure that adoption and deployments can happen in iterative steps in short periods of time and at the right price. Organizations need to invest into MDM but need to be assured that they will see value and benefits quickly from their investments.

Mark Smith's blog can also be found at ventanaresearch.com/blog.