Opinion Master Data Management Is Foundational

Published
  • December 04 2009, 4:39am EST
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This week I attended the MDM Summit in NYC and was very glad to hear a number of speaker’s use the term “foundational” when describing master data management within enterprise information management.

It truly is a basic component of EIM, as much as governance cannot be separated from EIM or MDM. MDM is in fact the real-time integration (or should be real time) of key information within the enterprise – a subset of EIM.

For those of you, who are unfamiliar with the term EIM, allow me to expand upon this topic first. EIM is the art of managing the information within your enterprise.  Today, we are in the throws of the information age and we are getting hit with tremendous volumes and types of information. Making sense of this is what EIM is all about. EIM consists of the following disciplines:

Information/Reference Architecture

  • Flexible data architecture aligned to B.A.
  • Metadata, information taxonomy, etc
  • Defined metrics/KPI’s

Defined Information

  • Definitions (business terms and usage)
  • Information lifecycle
  • Secured access (customers demand it)

Data Integration

  • ETL/information delivery and integration services
  • MDM

Data Governance

  • Data Stewardship of environment

Data Quality

  • Data profiling and exception handling

Information Delivery / Distribution

  • Reporting and analytics
  • “Right People See Right Data At Right Time”

I can’t emphasize enough that the final statement “right people see the right data at the right time” is the essence of EIM.  EIM involves the business (governance board, data stewards, etc.), and information technology (data architects, data modelers, project managers, etc.) and aligns the two. Yes, I said aligns the two – since we in IT tend to follow our discipline without realizing that we are a cost center there to enable the business (unless you are an Internet site company dedicated to open source - lol).
EIM involves data, people, process and underlying technology (infrastructure) and provides value to the organization by aligning business and IT, improving effectiveness and business improvements, provides for efficiency and cost savings, and reduces the risk of the organization!

Today risk and compliance are key issues for implementing governance, but so is the vast volume and types of information that the business is now collecting.

Business needs information to thrive. Data must be integrated, cleansed, refreshed and turned into reliable business information in order to flourish/compete. Data is as critical to a corporations’ success today as water is to life on this planet. Offering a transformative power for businesses that are able to apply it strategically. Equally as important as data, is the integration of the myriad of enterprise processes and systems utilized, much as oxygen is to life’s sustenance.

Yes, we are rocketing into the information age with increasingly interconnected, instrumented, and intelligent enterprises with huge volumes and types of “raw” data. The resulting explosion of information is creating an opportunity for a new kind of intelligence – “The Information-Led Transformation.”

Businesses are looking to create sustainable competitive advantage by optimizing all parts of their business:

  • How they invest and manage their finances
  • How they find, grow and retain their customers
  • How they maximize service delivery
  • How they spot opportunities for growth and execute “plays”
  • How they proactively manage risk
  • Anticipate and react to marketplace or other external events

The value of information is directly proportional to how fast a business can react to it, or in other words, corporations lose money every time they delay getting information into the hands of decision-makers! Just ask Dr. Richard Hackathorn of Bolder Technology whom I often refer to his “Time-Value Curve.” It pictorially demonstrates this brilliantly – I often refer to it in presentations!
Forward-thinkers are starting to set themselves apart from their peers by using the wealth of information and analytics for better, faster decisions and actions. They are achieving breakaway competitive advantage through business optimization, and more predictable outcomes.  The keys to this are EIM, governance and leverage of metrics and analytics.

Imagine the impact if you could leverage information and analytics to optimize decisions and actions throughout the organization in real-time:

  • Determine to whom to offer discounts at the time of sale (Instead of reducing profitability by treating all customers alike?)
  • Apply social relationships of customers to improve loyalty and prevent churn?
  • Adjust credit lines as transactions are occurring to account for risk fluctuations?
  • Create and apply a information management, business analytics and optimization strategy (Encompassing business strategy, information, process and organizational change)

Yes, these are all possible and some corporations are making real advancements in EIM and proactive use of information to improve their state in this desolate economy.  Where there are challenges, there are opportunities!  Alas, poor Yorik, I knew the data well but could not find the needle in the haystack – more like a thousand needles in a hospital.
Master data management often evokes thoughts of “single source of the truth” or “one view of the truth.” Both are correct but each is somewhat different. “Single source” centralizes the key MDM information in a publish and subscribe type distribution, whereas ‘One View’ provides for the feeding of this key data between the many source systems that use it.  One is more top-down, where the other is more bottom-up (a subtle difference).

Business and IT leaders need to work together to by focusing on three areas:

Planning an information agenda

  • A strategic plan to align information with business

Applying business analytics to optimize decisions to identify patterns

  • In the vast amounts of data and extract actionable insights through planning, monitoring, governance (MDM), reporting and predictive analysis or analytics (like predictive real-time analytics and Heuristic Pattern Recognition)

Establishing a flexible information platform

  • An platform of information that supplies the business with a wealth of options for use
  • Will provide the necessary agility across the technology platform, infrastructure and common software services
  • Ensure that information can serve as a trusted asset that can be shared and securely accessed by all who need it, when and where they need it.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and we are rapidly finding that this is getting the information into the hands of those who can use it!

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