Remember "It's the economy, stupid," from the 1990s? For those youngsters out there, it was a blunt message, coined by the ever-entertaining Democratic political strategist James Carville, during Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential bid against incumbent President George Bush.
I couldn't help but think of that phrase, with a minor variation, while reading a dense Information Management article about how to find the business value when you're pursuing a master data management program.
The author, Edwin D'Cruz, is a principal at Princeton Data Solutions, and this is the third in a series of pieces looking at managing data in the enterprise. He suggests examining "the key functions and processes that such a program would have a positive impact on," and goes through several questions you should contemplate before suggesting the following:
The sales and marketing functions revolving around the customer are critical to the business, and any enhancement to this capability can be of great value to the organization. Any MDM program will need to focus on providing greater insight into customer behavior, enhancing the customer experience, the ability to identify patterns around the customer, and opportunities to identify new customers and grow the customer base. Most importantly, the program needs to provide a consistent and reliable source of customer information across the enterprise.
Or, to put it briefly: It's the customer, stupid.
If you want to trace down the value of MDM-and possibly most initiatives-you're going to have to focus on help with the customer. And when it comes to MDM, there's actually quite a case to be made around identifying, cleansing and governing customer data. That's probably why many MDM solutions actually evolved from solutions developed just for customer data integration.
One thing D'Cruz doesn't cover is just how hard it can be to even define "customer" during MDM. For instance, sales tends to view "customer" very differently than marketing or even billing. He spends much of the article discussing this, but he also hits on two often-overlooked stumbling blocks for MDM: data governance and metadata. If you're going to succeed with MDM, you'd do well to heed his advice and include these in the project.