Re-Evaluating MDM: Revolutionary or Just Another Data Tool?

Loraine Lawson

In a world where 140 characters on Twitter scoops international news agencies and everybody instantly burps up opinions, it's easy to lose the more steadied, thoughtful voices who really take the time to digest information.

 

It's a shame, really, because often those are the voices most worth hearing. I try to remember that, and so when I saw that David Loshin had just now penned a piece on January's consolidation in the MDM space, I decided to check it out.

 

If you're not familiar with Loshin, he's the president of Knowledge Integrity, a consulting and development firm. His speciality is data quality and master data management-in fact, he's written a book on it, and I interviewed him last year about how CIOs could separate the hype from the reality with MDM.

 

At first, it appears Loshin's BeyeNetwork column is simply providing more commentary on the recent MDM news:

  • IBM's purchase of Initiate ("Considering the broad spectrum of existing 'server' branded technologies, one might question the motivation behind IBM's purchase");
  • Informatica's buy-out of Siperian ("During that transition, Siperian's product had evolved from being an MDM Hub, to being a "multidomain MDM Hub," then suddenly became "infrastructure technology"); and
  • Talend's decision to offer an open source MDM solution, ("they are adopting a more pragmatic approach to MDM, one that is used to address specific problems, perhaps from more of a tactical than a long-term strategic standpoint").

 

He makes some interesting points during this discussion, which dominates the first part of the column.


 

But for my money, the real meat is in the last third of the piece, where he analyzes a question that shows a more thought-out perspective on this MDM runaway train:

"So now that MDM has been around for a while, and the master data terminology has drifted into our standard vocabulary, it might be worth stepping back and asking a different question: Is MDM the revolutionary approach to organizational data consolidation and enterprise information management or is it devolving into yet another (of many) data management tools?"

He then reveals a bit of insight from his perspective, working with clients who took a pure approach to MDM and clients who took a more pragmatic, targeted approach, using MDM as a "support mechanism for data quality management and governance to help address specific business needs." He also shares that, upon investigation, some "award-winning MDM solutions" have turned out to be just "a repository, used as a funnel to continuously circulate the same errors around the enterprise, just another data silo."

 

But then again, he writes, a true multidomain environment doesn't seem like an impossibility.

 

Loshin's piece made me think: Will MDM will turn out out to be just another silo-and, worse, another broken IT promise.



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