Finding Quick Wins for Customer Data Integration, MDM

Loraine Lawson

Remember when master data management first became the "next big thing" and it cost ridiculous amounts to implement and took years, if not a decade, to recoup the return on investment?

 

Funny how an economic crash can change things.

 

Yesterday, I checked out DM Radio's discussion of customer data integration (CDI), which featured, among others, Forrester analyst Rob Karel. The crash changed the way companies saw MDM, according to Karel.

 

Before the crash, MDM was this huge, enterprise-wide, big-picture effort. But afterward, Karel said CIOs received the message from CEOs and boards: We need more levers for fine-tuning our margins. And that's what MDM, as well as CDI and data quality initiatives, became-tools for reducing exposure and saving money, he explained.

 

Not surprisingly, that's why you hear more about finding "quick wins" with CDI and MDM. Fortunately, it's apparently pretty easy to find them.


 

The quickest way to identify a quick win is to focus on a specific process where there's risk or wasted money, Karel said. For many companies, that process involves either direct marketing or the call center. In both cases, deduplication can improve efficiency and cut costs in measurable ways, such as reducing postage and printing or time on the phone. Those metrics can be translated into an easy-to-calculate ROI, he explained.

 

The DM Radio discussion was co-hosted by Eric Kavanagh and Jim Erikson, and also featured Jim Walker of Talend and Bob Bloom of the mid-market company CDS. Bloom provided a useful discussion about how CDI helps identify hierarchies within organizations you may be doing business with and why that matters.

 

But as it turned out, even though the title of the discussion suggested a CDI-focus, the panel actually spent more time talking about MDM, data governance and, to a lesser extent, data quality. If those last two may surprise you, know that both are considered essential building blocks for MDM. As Erikson pointed out, governance is the rule book for data initiatives, and you can't develop a playbook (i.e., MDM/CDI) until you have the rulebook. In fact, Forrester has a five-stage maturity model for data and you don't even see MDM-related technology until level three, and you don't hit CDI until level four.

 

There was also a ton of talk in this lengthy broadcast about how these initiatives fit in with processes, who should be driving data governance versus who is driving data governance, and how you structure data governance.

 

If CDI, MDM or data governance are a big concern for you right now, you should definitely check out the entire hour-plus broadcast.



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