Why You Should Hit Pause on MDM

    Organizations are starting to really mess up with master data management, according to a recent blog post by Gartner MDM expert Andrew White.

    MDM was never supposed to be used in the ways end users are starting to deploy it, he adamantly warns:

    There are a growing number of end user organizations that are trying to “master” as much data as they can in their MDM hubs. In some cases, the organization might be trying to figure out how to store Bill of Material on its product information hub. Another might be trying to store lifetime value (in terms of forecasted revenue) as an analytic within the customer master data hub. What are we doing?????? This is near madness, people!

    He adds that just because a vendor says you can use MDM for a particular purpose doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

    MDM has been around for a long time, but last fall, White told me more companies are dabbling with MDM. In many cases, they’re failing with it.

    The reasons vary, of course. Sometimes, the company just buys the wrong tool and it doesn’t actually do what they need, he said. But it’s more frequently the case that organizations put the cart before the horse, so to speak, by investing in tools rather than approaching MDM as a business discipline.

    Now that companies have MDM, they’re making the rookie mistake of trying to use it to fix every sort of data problem.

    You’ve heard the adage: If you only have a hammer, everything’s a nail? Well, it seems if you only have MDM, then everything’s master data. That logic doesn’t serve you if you’re dealing with screws or, it turns out, other types of data — for instance, unstructured data.

    Master data is the data that defines what your business does, White says. And that’s it. Everything else is … well, everything else.

    And that’s a big part of the problem, because, White points out, we really don’t know how to properly manage this huge swath of data called “Everything else.”

    “This is in fact the larger amount of data in our organizations – much even unstructured,” White writes.  “We can’t through [sic] Content Management (CM) at this; or Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) or Records Management or even Data Quality.”

    These tools are silos and so do not offer the type of integrated governance framework needed to support this “other” data.

    So what are you supposed to do in the meantime? White says Gartner has some ideas but no answer just yet. One thing he does know for sure is that it’s definitely not MDM.

    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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