A Lively Debate about Master Data Management

The explosive growth of data has only accelerated the demand for availability of this information within the user work-flow solutions such as CRM, ERP and BI systems. This change is provoking a debate in the MDM community on how to integrate and move data between the MDM environments and satellite CRM, ERP and BI systems.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to participate in a great discussion about two different approaches to Master Data Management (MDM) with fellow attendees at the Gartner MDM Summit in Las Vegas. The MDM summit has changed significantly in the past 5-6 years, growing from a small, IT-focused conference with just a few hundred attendees, to a large conference attracting major sponsors and thousands of key decision-makers from multiple industries. It’s a sign that MDM is becoming relevant to more and more people.

In a well-attended session on MDM market trends, I presented our DaaS strategy, describing how D&B integrates, cleans and verifies data into CRM, ERP and BI “satellite” systems. The audience of 60+ attendees, including customers and partners, was highly engaged. They expressed concerns about the effectiveness and risks associated with our approach, versus a more traditional approach. It was a great conversation, and we were able to use the feedback to both validate and refine several components of our strategy. That’s interactive dialogue at its best!

MDM practitioners are always skeptical of data flowing directly into multiple systems before it gets mastered.
Vimal Vel, Vice President Partner Solutions Strategy, Dun & Bradstreet

Here’s the gist of the debate. The traditional MDM approach centralizes the consumption, standardization and federation of data into the satellite systems like CRM and ERP. MDM practitioners are always skeptical of data flowing directly into these systems before it gets mastered. However, our audience expressed strong receptiveness to a model with DaaS integration enabled in both the MDM environment and the satellite systems simultaneously, for easy mastering of data that might be integrated directly into a satellite system.

The polarization of the two approaches was reflected in what MDM solution providers were saying on the exhibition floor. Some providers kept to the more traditional, centralized approach. Others, like Informatica, allowed for a more federated MDM environment, so that distributed satellite systems could play a role in the consumption and mastering of some data.

We expect this debate to continue, at the Garter Summit and other venues, because it’s so important to how we will tackle MDM in the future. Because our DaaS strategy uses the D-U-N-S Number to play a major role in the MDM process, we will continue to be a central part of the conversation and drive the narrative. D&B's successes with integrations such as Data.com CRM and D&B Direct for MDM applications puts us in a great position to encourage adoption of MDM solutions that fit with what our customers and partners are asking for.

Here’s my take: We should continue to enable the integration and flow of D&B data across all consumption points, including the satellite systems and the MDM environments, using D-U-N-S Numbers as the link. This approach is consistent with the strategic direction the industry is taking, and it’s the path leaders are already headed down.