Learning Centre: Ideas

Who Needs MDM Anyway?

Data Silos and the need for MDM

Growing up in rural farm country, it was taken for granted that every farmstead had a silo (or multiple silos) in the back yard. Often the tallest buildings in town were the grain elevators, iconic not only for their “skyscraper” status, but also because you could go to one location to get the provisions for farming. Every ingredient used in successful farming was stored separately in little stalls, bins, stacks, or even in the big silos. Separation was considered a good thing, especially since the volatile chemicals could react unexpectedly if mixed improperly.

Data “silos” have long been a bastion of IT security, a realm of complete control where leaders in a particular line of business could leverage the data that only they knew about. But times have changed. Just like many the silos of my childhood are gone, the days are numbered for data silos too. It began in the mid-1990s as the push toward large-scale enterprise software pulled huge volumes of data into centralized, mega-stores of information. But those were often hard to search or became too unwieldy to keep clean. Then the age of integration started – getting systems to talk to one another and keeping everyone synchronized. Then the 2000’s hit and merger & acquisition activity came to an all-time high.

Throughout the life-cycle of enterprise data, there remained a silent, but dangerous, undercurrent. A philosophy that said, let’s just collect the data… someone will learn how to make sense of it later.
And that leads us to today’s market. Most industry analysts believe that the Master Data Market is pretty well tapped out, especially in Healthcare. But as you look around, merger & acquisition activity is picking up again, large-scale “one-size-fits-none” enterprise applications are out of vogue, but the need to integrate systems and synthesize information in a way that creates a single version of the truth is still key.

That’s where Master Data Management (MDM) steps in to save the day… just like it has for nearly 20 years.  Master Data Management establishes connections between siloed systems – making sense of the data at the enterprise level, while respecting the autonomy of the source systems.

Everywhere we look we see the need for MDM

  • How many accounts do you have at a particular website or store because you signed up for the “free deal” one too many times, or heaven forbid, you created a new account because you forgot your password?
  • Does your organization store prospect data separate from client data? Does your organization have multiple systems, all pretty much doing the same thing, but leveraging different, competing data sets?
  • Have you seen processes in place at non-profits where each year (or event) a new donor list is compiled, so each time a donor signs up it’s considered “new”?
  • Have recent mergers and acquisitions left you with multiple “enterprise-wide” systems that each only tell part of the story?

Every organization, from enterprise businesses to non-profits, has the same problems with data quality: duplicate records, incomplete versions of records, and a lack of central visibility into the critical data assets that are central to their business.

So, who needs Master Data Management anyway? We all do!

Photo credit: Lancaster, PA cows outside red barn via photopin (license) Photo enhanced for color.