Systems Integrators Tout MDM Expertise, but Do They Deliver?

Loraine Lawson

A TDWI article recently made a case for why MDM is poised to really take off in 2010. It quotes Jill Dyche of Baseline Consulting, who says MDM is starting to ramp back up after the recession threw a wrench in its hype curve.


Heck, if it hadn't been for the economy, MDM-with its multi-million-dollar price tag - would've been trudging through the trough of disillusionment by now. But as it is, 2010 brings with it hope that if you spend tons of money on master data management, you'll be able to manage your data and-as Bullwinkle would say-this time for sure!


While compliance requirements and other factors may make MDM more appealing and an ROI at least plausible-Dyche says it can save millions of dollars in two months by speeding up a merger and acquisition-my guess is enterprises won't be footloose and fancy-free with their investments in 2010. That's why I think it's fair to say The Information Difference performed a public service by conducting a survey on the use and experience of systems integrators (SIs) in MDM implementations.


Dr. Dave Waddington, senior vice president and head of research for the firm, recently published a list of the report's key findings on IT Director. Waddington said the firm decided to research the use of systems integrators after noticing that MDM was being featured "with increasing prominence in the portfolio of services offered by many Systems Integrators."


As it turns out, the survey also reveals quite a bit about MDM in general, including the teams that participate in MDM, the importance of business cases-or lack thereof in MDM, and how money is allocated in MDM.


But when it comes to the original question-the role of SIs in MDM-the news was a bit mixed. The survey found that most SIs have not actually been involved with very many MDM projects: In fact, the median for all projects reported was nine, and the median for 2009 was five.


Of those who used SIs for MDM, 67 percent were "at least satisfied" while 33 percent were outright "unhappy." But even more interesting to me is the fact that 41 percent found SIs to be "not very experienced" with MDM, while 59 percent said their SI had adequate expertise and experience. Alas, Waddington's write-up does not elaborate on the answer options, so perhaps they could only choose "adequate" or "not very experienced" as responses.


I suppose the moral of the SI part of the story is to ask a lot of questions about the system integrator's experience with actual MDM implementations and, of course, request references.


Waddington lists a slew of other findings-most based on the median - that I found equally interesting, including the fact that MDM implementations tend to involve eight-person teams, respondents advise against using a waterfall methodology, and at least one-third of MDM projects do not have a business case. Perhaps that last group should've checked out our Knowledge Network for guidance on building an MDM business case.

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