Some things are more confusing than they should be - like those road loops in the UK or the logic behind leap years-some things seem very simple when they're explained, yet people are constantly confused about them.
IT seems to have more than its fair share of these issues. And for some reason, master data management is becoming one of them.
Personally, I've always thought vendors were to blame for the confusion. I know they're an easy target, but in this case, I think it's fair. After all, MDM is a discipline, yet vendors say they offer "MDM solutions." What they really mean is they sell products that support MDM efforts. But that's not what they say, so people get confused. I should know. I was one of the confused masses.
But after reading a recent Information Management article, "Top 5 Master Data Management Misconceptions," I realized I may have been unfair. While I can and do blame MDM vendors for misconception number 2 - "MDM is a technology/infrastructure initiative" - they really can't shoulder the blame for all four of the other MDM misconceptions:
Of course, regular readers will recall we've talked about that "MDM is data warehousing" issue previously-including how it differs, why data warehousing staff may not be the best choice for spearheading MDM technology initiatives, why you shouldn't couple data warehousing and MDM, and how the architectures differ.
Reading through this list and the author's attempts to clear up the misconception, I realized that the underlying problem seems to be selling MDM short. It includes applications, it can require new infrastructure and technology investments, and a data quality program is a key part of it-but these are only parts, the sum of which creates an MDM program.
And for that matter, your MDM program will only be as good as the parts you've used. Short your data quality project, and MDM will suffer. Fail to do governance, and you'll be backtracking.
Alas, that goes for the technology underpinning MDM as well. A recent TDWI article suggests that those with homegrown or ad hoc MDM solutions may want to consider an upgraded solution. The article notes that MDM solutions have matured substantially since 2005, when companies began to embrace MDM. Four-generation tools will offer more support for multiple master entities and search or text analytics for unstructured data, the article notes. You'll also see MDM tech integrated with other technologies and initiatives, including BI, RFID and entity analytics, according to the article.