The New Uses for MDM

    Master data management is growing up so fast. These days, MDM is becoming more business-ready, with shiny new uses such collaboration, multi-channel integration and location-based marketing.

    Capgemini is working with a number of companies, including IBM and Informatica, to push the boundaries of how MDM is used, explained Steve Jones, the company’s global lead for MDM, during a recent interview.

    “We’ve worked on with IBM to bring together what we call, from a retail perspective, Omni Channel, which is the ability to market and sell across all channels without boundaries, and support the ability for customers to channel hop,” Jones said. “People wandering around with their smartphone and they scan the barcode and then order the product online, because they can get it cheaper than they could in the store. How would you actually enable it so they can scan the barcode, get the price on the Internet site and actually be able to check it out there and then?

    “The cool thing on MDM is MDM provides you with the ability to do that cross-reference between those channels. And it’s the combination of the campaign-management pieces with MDM, which then means organizations are able to seamlessly switch between channels in the way that historically haven’t been able to do.”

    Add social media to the location data and you can have pertinent marketing messages delivered on the spot, ala Four Square.

    Capgemini isn’t the only one redefining and expanding MDM’s use case, of course.

    Informatica is working on a collaborative, social MDM tool, set for release later this year, that will allow employees to collaborate on master data changes. It will also allow companies and their sales team to reach further into social media connections on Facebook, providing more information about what customers bought and who their friends are.

    IBM is also focusing on the idea of collaborative MDM, but in a different direction. Harsha Kapre, the product manager for IBM’s Infosphere Master Data Management, spent the past year traveling to clients to see how they’re using IBM’s Collaborative MDM. In a recent blog post, he shared that he’s seen two new areas of use for MDM since the company added collaboration:

    • Rules management, which allows customers to tailor specific products, bundles and services to meet customer need based on a range of conditions. “This provides the right product at the best price through the right channel,” he said.
    • Catalog management, in which customers use Collaborative MDM for managing catalogs, including bulk edits and workflow needs to manage SKU counts and other changing requirements.

    MDM is also being deployed in companies as a way to manage risk and regulatory compliance, according to a TechTarget piece.

    And then there’s Big Data, which deals with super large data sets that require special solutions just to process. MDM will link with data — but probably not as it’s linked with data in the past.

    It’s all adding up to a philosophical shift for master data management.

    “We don’t see the next generation of MDM being like the old generation of MDM,” Jones said. “Historically, MDM was around the customer repository — let’s dump everything about the customer in this big repository. That’s just not feasible in the world of Facebook and Twitter.  And it doesn’t make any sense with all the customer’s transactions — all of their interactions with the call center into one great big database.”

    Information is federated, he added, which means it’s impractical for MDM to focus on migrating and mastering everything.

    “A general philosophy we’ve got is the real next generation of MDM is about mastering just the core — just what identifies the person — and then recognizing the fact that information will live in lots of different places, then providing an infrastructure via which the navigation to that information can happen,” he said.

    In other words, it becomes about integration in a virtual way, where MDM cross-references between systems, drawing information from all. No more “one big central database” to rule them all, with “the issues of data latency and all of those elements,” he added.

    For some, that may mean planning for an MDM upgrade, but if the use cases continue to grow, it shouldn’t be hard to find a justification.

    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson
    Loraine Lawson is a freelance writer specializing in technology and business issues, including integration, health care IT, cloud and Big Data.

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