Tips for Launching an MDM Program

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10 Critical Myths and Realities of Master Data Management

Prevalent myths surrounding MDM alongside an explanation of the realities.

Ideally, a master data management program will start with executive sponsorship and business buy-in. Realistically, IT may have neither, and yet still see a pressing need for MDM. What's a CIO to do in these cases?

Eric Iverson, the VP of television and intellectual property systems at Sony Pictures Entertainment, took a novel approach: He opted to play both bad IT cop and good IT cop to obtain buy-in for master data management.

SearchDataManagement.com recently ran a story on Sony's successful product MDM program, which now manages 250,000 digital titles, connects with 64 internal/external systems and has indirectly created $50 million in either cost savings or new revenues to Sony. Before the MDM project, the entertainment company had 53 different content management systems for its digital assets.


Hollywood doesn't like to miss a dollar; witness the fact there's a "Scream 4" currently showing in theaters around the country. It was obvious to Iverson that Sony was missing opportunities to fully exploit its products, and yet, his team couldn't sell other divisions of Sony on MDM. But Iverson's group pressed on, gambling that MDM would win over business units when they saw how a centralized view of Sony's digital assets could identify more opportunities. And sure enough, eventually, they did.


What fascinates me about Iverson's story, however, is that he advises readers to be patient and flexible, but at the same time, he talks about pushing Sony's pressure points to "strategically create pain."


On one hand, the team agreed to incorporate the acquisition group's numbers, but on the other hand, they used separate financial codes and product codes for individual titles, which forced business units to switch to the MDM system if they wanted to pull data from the SAP ERP system.

It sounds a tad passive aggressive, but, hey, it worked for Sony and Iverson, so who am I to judge?


If that kind of schizophrenic maneuvering isn't your thing, there are other options. For instance, Jim Harris recently suggested that IT can try the lost art of prototyping as a way to prove the business value of MDM and other data-quality-related projects. Basically that means you launch a pilot project, preferably around something simple such as location, to show how MDM works and how it can benefit business units.


The use of MDM is becoming widespread as organizations recognize it as a "business-critical" program, according to Aaron Zornes, founder and chief research officer of The MDM Institute. For more, check out Zornes recent article outlining an MDM roadmap for 2011-2012 on Information Management.