I'm looking forward to returning to San Francisco in the next few weeks to the MDM & Data Governance Summit. I've got nothing but fond (and some foggy) memories of my college days in Berkeley and the Bay Area. I especially loved riding across the Golden Gate Bridge, a true modern marvel of design and architecture. And while I appreciated the majesty of the bridge, I was not thinking, "Gosh look at those nuts and bolts!" But without those, there would be no bridge to admire. Similarly, C-Level executives may focus on big enterprise systems without recognizing the data is the nuts and bolts; it's what's holding everything together.
When thinking about master data management (MDM), what's ultimately needed to keep the business infrastructure from crumbling is clean, unified, well-governed, expertly-stewarded master data content. When trying to span the chasm between sales and marketing, or finance and operations, or enterprises across a value chain - there is only one thing can truly bridge them all in an integrated way: master data.
While workflows and processes may be designed for optimal efficiency, the success of those implementations is predicated on the quality of the data that is within them. Simply put - dirty data clogs process pipes. No matter how good your MDM strategy is, resources are wasted if the data in your systems is inconsistent and doesn't connect.
As you look at any MDM program, your data is what makes your software effective. Strong master data content can help strengthen the foundation of your strategic objectives and provide a reliable foundation for enterprise growth. Consider master data as a trusted view of entities and relationships that can flow across platforms, or systems within your organization and cannot otherwise be achieved in individual silos.
Master data, we would submit, is the most important data you have. It is about the products you make and services you provide, it is the customers you sell to, it is the vendors you buy from. It is the basis of your business and commercial relationships. A primary focus area should be your ability to define your foundational master data elements, (entities, hierarchies and types) and then the data that is needed (both to be mastered and to be accessible) to meet your business objective.
Five Best Practices to Apply to Your MDM Implementation
- Search before create: Avoid using duplicated customer, prospects and vendor records
- Increase attribute fill rates for core firmographic and identity data
- Compile hierarchy and linkage for full corporate parent/child and affiliate relationships
- Establish common definitions between departments and business partners
- Enable seamless integration of coded third-party content
Setting Your Data in Motion
Data, to have value, must be in motion, it must be current, agile and available, integrated as close to the point of decision as possible. You must identify the pinch points and blockages that keep data from moving. Misidentified entities, differing taxonomies, inconsistent nomenclature all keep data separate.
Read more about setting your data in motion. Once you become a master of your data, it will flow.