The age of Master Data Management (MDM) has arrived. Whether the goal is better business management, compliance with regulatory demands or improving business processes, a basic requirement remains constant—the need for a shared foundation of common data definitions across the organisation. Only if this shared foundation is consistent, accurate and up-to-date can the business accomplish the goal of realising value from their initiatives and only then can IT set the goal of moving towards a service-oriented approach to architecture.
Unfortunately these goals are not that simple to accomplish, and the reason is the data. Organizations have tens if not hundreds of silos of data to traverse and pull together - and in each of them there are different definitions of customers, products, suppliers and so on. Yet without unique identification and reconciliation of this master data, none of these enterprise initiatives can fulfill their desired value potential.
The only practical long-term solution to handling all of these different definitions is not to continuously seek to eradicate them but to seek a better way to reconcile master data, embrace change, and provide master data as the vital link to commonality and interoperability across the enterprise. In this way IT balances the protection of existing investment while delivering greater insight and agility to the business.
To date, the data warehousing and application integration markets have focused on data access and movement—the pipes and the plumbing—which has left companies on their own to tackle the problem of reconciling the data moving in those pipes. Vendors have now emerged with tools to help and yet have created more confusion by proliferating market acronyms like CDI (customer data integration) or PIM (product information management) or taking into their own hands the definition of MDM. The result is as many alternative architectures and approaches as the master data definitions themselves.
Master data management has come of age because it is no longer a question of whether IT will tackle the issue—but how and when. Moreover, this step requires the determination of the best solution to fit the need. Bloor Research analyst Harriet Fryman has completed an in-depth review of the Master Data Management market, the pros and cons of architectural approaches, vendor solutions available, and what to look for to meet your own business needs. This is required reading if you believe, as we do, that the promise of Performance Management, Regulatory Compliance and SOA starts with Master Data Management.