Thinking Beyond MDM's Obvious Value

Loraine Lawson
Slide Show

10 Critical Myths and Realities of Master Data Management

Prevalent myths surrounding MDM alongside an explanation of the realities.

Typically, master data management is seen as a way to resolve conflicts within master data-either pertaining to the customer or the data. In other words, it's about obtaining that much-sought-after goal-one version of the truth-in one very specific context: master data used within the organization.

But maybe it's time to stop thinking about what's typical and think more broadly about the value of MDM and other business challenges it can help resolve.

My new favorite statistic provides a great incentive to do so: Sixty-six percent of organizations starting on master data management (MDM) projects will have a hard time demonstrating MDM's business value, according to Gartner. That's pretty incredible, considering the time, effort and cost required for MDM initiatives.

So what are some ways you can think more broadly about MDM? For starters, you can start thinking beyond the organization's walls to how reliable master data could be used by suppliers and other business partners-a point well argued in a recent Information Management article.

The article looks at how better information management both upstream and downstream the supply chain is becoming a competitive advantage in retail. It provides several examples of the types of business problems caused by poor information management, all with one moral: It's not enough to have one 'version of the truth' internally. You also have to be able to share that information with your partners on both sides of the supply chain.

Although it focuses more broadly on all information management, the article's author concludes that MDM is a critical component of managing information in the supply chain:

Companies are realizing that initiatives such as MDM should be used not just internally, but also to help suppliers and partners share information with them, and to help customers find more relevant, complete and accurate information faster. At the end of the day, it's about treating MDM as a process, not just a project. It's about using MDM as a vehicle to drive real business value and ROI.

Another way you can think more broadly about MDM: Consider how it can help you cut costs.

That may be surprising, given how much focus there is on MDM's overall cost, but it turns out MDM can actually help you lower costs on things like data cleanup, interface costs, hardware and licenses maintenance, according to Ravi Shankar, Informatica's senior director of MDM product marketing. Shankar's been in the MDM business for some time now, first as the head of product marketing for MDM vendor Siperian, which . In a recent blog post, he shared his observation that cost factor is an underestimated benefit of MDM:

We often hear from our Informatica MDM customers about the main benefits they've realized from master data management (MDM)-smarter, faster decision-making and greater productivity though timely and reliable data. What's less widely recognized is that MDM is proving to be a powerful cost-saving engine, as well.

Shankar's post hits the highlights, but it also links to a free white paper touting seven ways MDM can cut costs.

IBM also offers a free white paper, "A Journey to Adaptive Master Data Management," that highlights ways MDM can increase revenue growth, help companies be more cost-efficient and help with business goals.

These items should give you some fodder to start thinking more broadly about MDM. Of course, if you want to think more broadly but in a way that's most pertinent to your own organization, you might want to follow the advice of V. V. Narendra Kumar, an associate professor of Informatics at the Alluri Institute ?f Management Sciences in Warangal, India.

In a paper recently published on Time Management Strategies, (but originally published on, Kumar described in depth a master data management project plan and best practices. Among his suggestions:

  • Get the business involved or in charge. He cites a Ventana finding that support from C-level executives, senior managers and business ?nd users was critical to MDM success.
  • Allow ample time for evaluation and planning. MDM should take at least three months of planning before you begin-and Kumar's just talking about the time it takes to be ready to tackle the actual data problems. So consider extending that time to identify how the project can impact your company's business goals beyond the obvious.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Mar 11, 2011 4:20 AM David Loshin David Loshin  says:

Actually, the paper you cited by purported "author" V. V. Narendra Kumar is actually a compendium/pseudo-translation of articles written by more authoritative individuals, including:

Techtarget's definition of master data management (see

Roger Wolter and Kirk Haselden from Microsoft (2006 article is at

Techtarget article written by Hannah Smalltree in July 2006 (including some interview quetsions asked of yours truly, at

Another paper by Roger Wolter from Microsoft (

I think I recognize some of my own writing in there also, but again, translated, in which certain words are commonly replaced with synonyms.

An example of this is:

"Hybrid style hubs utilize methods fr?m both transaction/repository ?n? registry style hubs"

"... the hybrid model includes features of both the repository and registry model"

SO FYI, the "Kumar conclusions" are actually good ideas that have been around at least 5 years, if not longer. Sorry to be so long, but let's make sure proper credit is attributed to the original authors.


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