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Master Data: It’s About Rows and Columns

Takeaways from the 2016 MDM & Data Governance Summit

“Good decisions made on bad data are just bad decisions you don’t know about yet.” That’s just one of the bold statements made by Dun & Bradstreet’s Scott Taylor when discussing why master data is the foundation for business growth.

Speaking to a standing room crowd at last week’s MDM & Data Governance Summit in San Francisco, Taylor lamented on the challenges organizations are facing when implementing a Master Data Management (MDM) strategy. Taking the pulse of the audience, Taylor confirmed that while everyone believes MDM is extremely beneficial for their business, a majority believe they are not doing enough to make it successful. But it’s not just about doing more, it’s about doing it right.

MDM has become a significant priority for global enterprises, with the market expected to triple from $9.4B to $26.8B by 2020 according to analysts like Aaron Zornes, the MDM Institute’s Chief Research Officer, who kicked off the event. But while everyone is investing serious cash into the tools to manage the data, few are putting any thought into the data itself. That’s the first mistake companies are making. “Information has to be mastered first and foremost,” explained Taylor.

People are Very Good at Columns, but Not Good at Rows

According to Taylor, a typical global enterprise will have multiple routes to market and varying use cases for their data. Departments create silos because they tend to act independently, thinking about the data they individually need to capture on customers, prospects and vendors to support their departments’ needs. They tend to be very good at vertical processes – ones that work for their area or maintain their point of view. Some companies, however, are starting to change, and are taking an enterprise view which means they look at data needs across the organization, versus department by department. In other words, horizontally or “rows” versus vertically in “columns”.

While everyone believes MDM is extremely beneficial, a majority believe they are not doing enough to make it successful. But it’s not just about doing more, it’s about doing it right.
Michael Goldberg, Global Director, Content Marketing, Dun & Bradstreet

They are shifting to strategic centralization with a coordinated emphasis on local execution. That global aggregate versus the granular local requires tight synchronization and alignment, and better and more consistent data that integrates at the horizontal level. Insights, attributes, scores, KPIs, and other metrics need to align at both local and global levels; for both sales and marketing; concurrently with financial and operations.
The goal should be a consistent and concurrent flow of standardized data both vertically and horizontally. This is hard. As with any data issue, people are very good at columns, but not good at rows.

When enterprises expand to new markets and add operational levels within those geographies, the need grows for enterprise-to-enterprise relationship management. With a trusted view of your customers and suppliers in a more holistic manner, decisions around sales coverage, pricing strategies, and cross-sell become better aligned with your enterprise’s strategic direction, and you’ll be able to link and identify relationships within the data.

“If you don't understand that your business is really all about relationships then you don't really understand your business,” said Taylor. This is one of the crucial steps needed for mastering your data to enable a successful MDM strategy.

“Each of you has an MDM story to tell,” said Taylor. “It's a simple story and an epic story.” But as Taylor discussed, it is a story that will take genuine knowledge to write well.

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