CIOUpdate guest columnist Jill Dyché of Baseline Consulting.">
There are more constituents, more lines of business, and more business uses for customer data than ever before. But as quickly as solutions for data movement are introduced, problems with the data itself becomes more visible: two (or more) data fields that mean the same thing nevertheless look different and are interpreted very differently. This is true for established data types like Social Security Number that imply strict formatting rules, but also for data types like Address where the rules might be less rigorous. Ironically, the trend of master data management (MDM)the automation of data reconciliation across and between systems for various types of reference datawas greeted heartily by business and IT executives who were still fundamentally change-averse. Yet, many didnt know what to do or where to start.
MDM is not a new solution to an old problem, but rather a new solution to a new problem. Simply put, its a paradigm shift. The reasons for this are fundamental to what MDM is. The true value of any MDM solution is its ability to acquire, asynchronously or in real-time, enterprise data from heterogeneous systems and online stores where that data originates. Whereas many vendors rushed to hang the MDM shingle, or re-craft their marketing messages to retrofit their products into the MDM rubric, the best MDM solutions are demand-driven: that is they match and correct data as its used and, not to put too fine a point on it, they dont touch the data if its not being used.
Bad Data, Bad Business
A sad turning point happens when mistrust of the data becomes part of the companys culture. Following the inevitable pressure from business colleagues, CIOs eventually come around to the idea of going to Plan B and fixing the data once and for all. CIOs generally try to resist Plan Bs because they almost always involve disruptive technology. So, the search begins for a solution that needs to be flexible, authoritative and permanent. Yet because existing systems and users still needed data from the companys data warehouse, CRM and EII environments, any solution needs to cause minimal system or business disruption.
Mindful of these requirements, the CIOs take a hard look at MDM for a single point of reference for data matching, integration and two-way propagation. A new MDM hub prevents one off, custom solutions for every new system linkage. It also eases the burden of having to propagate data from new sources and support different integration rules within and between operational systems.
With Plan B, the MDM hub assumes the role of a data reference system. Systems in need of data call the MDM hub for the reference record, and then retrieve the actual data. In tandem, you have the continued propagation of data to and from different systems. In this way, companies finally have access to authoritative versions of data for a range of applications while avoiding drastic, disruptive change.