MDM’s Business Justification Isn’t Always Enough

Loraine Lawson
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Four Best Practices for Accelerating Time-to-Value of Master Data Management

Friday, I wrote about pursuing a data strategy that lets you play the short game while focusing on winning the long game. I used Google’s recent re-entry into health care data as an example.

Well. I wish I’d read this piece by Jim Harris before I’d written that post. But, as Harris points out so well, sometimes no business justification—large or small—will work.

Harris is what some call a data quality thought leader. I am somewhat averse to the term thought leader, so I would classify him as a data veteran with 20 years of enterprise data management experience in the industry. He’s an independent consultant—which in and of itself is becoming unusual—and he runs the wonderful Obsessive-Compulsive Data Quality blog. Plus, he loves a clever word play, so you know he’s a smart guy.


Harris is writing a series on factors that can thwart master data management (MDM) initiatives, which he calls the “antimatters of MDM.”

The first MDM-stopping problem CIOs may face is the “business justification paradox.” Often, he writes, pundits talk about the business justification for MDM—or really, anything—as if it is the key to convincing executives to invest in a solution.

Alas—that’s just not true. Sometimes, you can make a complete and thorough business justification and still be rejected, he states:

“Because the harsh reality is that even a legitimate business-justified solution, which in the long run will reduce costs, mitigate risks and increase revenues, will in the immediate future only increase costs, increase risks and decrease revenues. This is a difficult sell to an organization’s shareholders.”

It seems downright unfair, even wrong, but as Harris points out, we’re all guilty of indulging in the short-term at the expense of what’s good for us in the long run.

Google proves that starting small as you build toward a bigger strategy can work, but that’s Google. For the rest of us, the hard truth is, in this economy, sometimes even starting small is still too expensive.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Sep 24, 2013 5:45 AM Jim Harris Jim Harris  says:
Thanks for the follow-up post and the kind words, Loraine. I begrudgingly accept being called a thought leader on the grounds that I am at least the leader of my own thoughts 51% of the time :-) Short- and Long- Term Regards, Jim Reply

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