What's Ahead for MDM

Loraine Lawson

The landscape of master data management is about to change, bringing more headaches as companies are forced to rely more on internal resources. You can also expect focus on coupling MDM with business process management (BPM). Those aren't my predictions, of course, but what I've taken away from several recent articles about the state of MDM.

I'll start with the most interesting news first. TechTarget recently reported on a Baseline Consulting survey showing those who've implemented MDM are overall pretty happy with it. The survey found that two-thirds considered their efforts "at least moderately successful," and 18 percent categorized MDM as "very successful." A mere 1 percent reported that their MDM efforts failed.

Not bad, right? But Baseline Consulting partner and co-founder Jill Dyche doesn't think it's quite as sunny as it seems, suggesting that those who report early MDM success went after "low-hanging fruit," such as reconciling names and addresses. She also notes most initial implementations enjoy support from vendors and consultants, which can also contribute to success.

But as those MDM implementations mature, and companies go it alone and move on to more complex problems involving multiple data domains and source systems, she predicts there will be "more drama with MDM in the next couple of years."

The survey also provided more evidence of the connection between data warehouse projects and MDM. Apparently, companies will spend vast sums of money (Dyche notes one company spent $40 million) on improving data warehouses, only to find they'll need MDM to really capitalize on the data warehouse investments. The one shining piece of good news from the survey? Coupling MDM and data warehousing can actually pay off pretty quickly-sometimes in as few as six months, according to Dyche.

As a side note, if you'd like to read more from Dyche about MDM, I recently re-discovered she writes a regular column for TechTarget, answering readers' questions about MDM.


Meanwhile, John Goodson at ebizQ recently attend Gartner's MDM conference and reports there was a lot of buzz about BPM done in conjunction with MDM. I say "buzz" because Goodson also notes that while everyone was talking about it, few actually had stories from real-world implementations. But, he thought the concept makes sense. He writes:

It seems natural to think that business processes can only be as good as the data on which they are based, but up until recently these practices were somewhat siloed. This year, the strategies seem to be more in synch from the customers and, also, the analysts discussed both topics in parallel with each other.

Goodson also had some good news, pointing out that while there are still reports of MDM costing in the hundreds of millions, those figures are usually coming from large, global corporations. He writes:

For large organizations (who are typically the presenters at these conferences), the monetary and personnel commitment required is large - but is proportional to the overall size of the IT staff. For smaller companies, the commitment is just as large; however, the cost is more in line with your overall budget. Just because Kraft spends $X doesn't mean Fred's Potato Chips is going to spend anywhere close to $X. Don't let the marquis presentations scare you into avoiding MDM.

My last MDM find actually doesn't relate to MDM's future so much as to its past, but I think it's worth mentioning. Dan Power, the founder and president of Hub Solution Designs, wrote a piece for Information Management promoting product information management (PIM) as a means of managing data for ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer resource management). PIM is basically master data management for product-specific data, as opposed to customer-specific data or multidomain MDM.


His piece prompted an interesting reply from Andrew White, who covers MDM for Gartner:

Of course, CRM and ERP (and other application suites) are the reason WHY we are talking about MDM; these applications were designed in an era when there was no need to take account of information requirements ACROSS the enterprise. These applications represent silos of data supporting specific applications. It is because we "did" things like ERP and CRM that we need MDM

I suspect there are a lot of corporate executives who may feel the same way and wonder when ERP will finally deliver its promised benefits.


Power actually posted a response to White, addressing this concern. Both post are worth a quick read, particularly since you may have to answer that very question yourself one day.

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