Master Data Management Comes of Age

3 Signs that Companies are Learning from Their MDM Experiences

As the leader of Solution Architecture and Engineering at Dun & Bradstreet, I’ve been involved with dozens of customer implementations over the last 15 years. Recently I sat on a Customer Centricity panel at our partner Informatica’s MDM 360 Summit in New York. We discussed the importance of master data as companies find the best ways to work with their customers. My most lasting impression from the event and speakers was the maturation of the MDM space just in the last two years.

Here are three observations I see for how businesses are approaching their MDM initiatives with maturity:

1) There’s a shift from a technology to a business focus.

While the technology will always be a fundamental enabler to MDM, we’re hearing a lot more from the business side. Peter Stormer, Director for Data Management at Amerisource Bergen, sat with me on the Informatica MDM 360 panel. He advised the audience to work with their business partners from the start of their MDM implementations to define the desired business outcomes.

Organizations realize that their MDM initiatives must be ROI dependent with goals that are tied to strategic business objectives. Business stakeholders are sitting at the table with IT from the very beginning of MDM projects, influencing decisions – including purchase, governance, resources, measurement and deployment.  Deployments have evolved to deliver value during the implementation process, solving business problems along the way versus the historical waterfall approach.

2) Trusted pre-mastered data is a standard, removing bias.

Trusted reference data provides authoritative sources for key data attributes and relationships. Moving away from “self assignment” serves to keep internal bias out of the data management process, helping companies stay objective. The example I use is this: If you’re a sales person and your vertical is Telecom, guess what, everything starts to look like a telecom company – and the data will start to reflect that bias.

We didn’t want to get in the business of standardizing data. D&B is already doing that. Thank you D&B!
Peter Stormer, Director of Data Management, Amerisource Bergen

Organizations can stop being the referee because they’re using trusted reference data that is structured, connected across an enterprise’s ecosystem, and provides coverage across the business universe. They’re placing their trust in pre-mastered reference data as the standard for a set number of attributes, putting to bed a lot of arguments and keeping the data objective.



3) Now is the time to evangelize learnings and successes.

MDM has advanced quickly, leading to a level of maturity that enables those who have implemented to now educate and evangelize. People who are not close to their company’s MDM initiatives will naturally make certain assumptions. It’s a wonderful opportunity for those who are now MDM experts to be a mouthpiece for their organizations to provide clarity on business objectives, progress against those objectives, and a roll-out plan.

I encourage all of you to make yourselves visible and share your very relevant experiences. Be proud of the work you do. It’s important you share your stories and that they get published – at events like Informatica’s MDM 360 Summit, webinars, your company dashboards, newsletters, social media, industry forums, etc. Wherever you can, connect and demonstrate relevance with people who are seeking to learn, to demonstrate your successes, and to help others realize their own success.

MDM has come a long way since the days of the “build it and they will come” approach.  The proof of its maturity shines through: companies are banking their next level of growth on their MDM investment, pre-mastered data is being declared the standard, and experts are sharing their learnings for the greater good.

Go to an MDM event near you and see for yourself.