MDM: Gartner Shares Four Predictions and One Stumbling Block

Loraine Lawson
Slide Show

10 Critical Myths and Realities of Master Data Management

Prevalent myths surrounding MDM alongside an explanation of the realities.

I gather from this week's blogs and news items that Gartner revealed some intriguing predictions for the next four years at its recent Master Data Management summits and, on a more immediate note, attendees were warned about a more pressing obstacle for MDM: interoffice power plays.


Overall, the predictions point to a more flexible, integrated approach to MDM.


First, Gartner predicts we'll see more buzz about multidomain MDM. This doesn't surprise me, since IBM and others have been pushing multidomain MDM since at least 2006, when I started covering this beat.


Here's what to keep in mind, though: After Gartner's last report on MDM, analyst John Radcliffe dismissed multidomain MDM as immature, telling Destination CRM that the vendors "don't provide similar depth of capability in every data domain."


It's a warning Radcliffe apparently repeated at the summit in India, again cautioning that even though vendors are promoting mulitdomain MDM, "it does not necessarily mean that the vendor can meet all multi-domain needs in a single product," he's quoted as saying in this India InfoLine News article.


It's worth noting, though, that Gartner believes 66 percent of Fortune 1000 organizations will have deployed two or more MDM solutions by 2014. I'm not surprised at the two - assuming one for customer data and one for product data - but the "or more" confuses and worries me. At any rate, given that high percentage, it makes sense that enterprises would look for solutions that can successfully manage more than one domain. The challenge will be finding it.


Radcliffe suggested a reality check for multidomain MDM solutions.


"When evaluating MDM software products to meet multi-domain MDM needs, organizations should evaluate each relevant master data domain and demand proof that the vendor can satisfy both the breadth and depth of their requirements," he told attendees, according to the article.


A second trend with a familiar ring is emergence of MDM-aware or -enabled applications. Basically, this means applications will be able to draw on and interact more directly with MDM data. I covered this trend last year during separate Q&As with Ravi Shankar of Informatica's Siperian division and Richard Clements of IBM. (You'll note my unfortunate use of very similar headlines for these interviews.)


Of all Gartner's trend predictions, the MDM-aware application strikes me as the most compelling and promising trend for organizations. Here's the most common example of an MDM-aware capability: Imagine if your sales team or customer service person could query the MDM hub to see if a customer or client already exists in the system before adding a new account. For more examples of how this could simplify your life and improve your master data, check out Jim Ericson's recent Information Management post on the topic.


Two less intriguing and possibly problematic predictions are that MDM will be offered via the cloud and we'll see social media data added as an attribute of customer master data. Truth be told, however, Gartner isn't seeing widespread adoption on those two: A mere 10 percent of "packaged MDM implementations will be delivered as SaaS in the public cloud," while only 15 percent of organizations are expected to add social media data by 2015. I'm not even sure that's enough to count as a trend - maybe we should call it "a beginning" or "a few early adopters."


Meanwhile, in the present day, political silos are proving to be a major stumbling block for many MDM implementations, according to three IT leaders who spoke at the MDM summit. Business managers are resisting efforts to integrate data under their control, and that's proving to be a major barrier to MDM, reports TechTarget.


The article shares how technologists from Boeing, a major media company, and Watts Water Technologies Inc. in North Andover, Mass., are coaxing business leaders into tearing down their organizational walls to share data with the entire organization. Their main tips:

  1. Focus on MDM's business value.
  2. Show how shared data leads to more accurate reporting and information.
  3. Encourage data stewardship, rather than "ownership."

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