The adoption of master data management (MDM) promises many benefits ranging from business agility and improved business performance to increased revenue and lower IT and business costs. However, according to Gartner, Inc., achieving these benefits often entails overcoming formidable technical, organisational and political hurdles.
Gartner defines MDM as a technology-enabled discipline that ensures the uniformity, accuracy, stewardship and semantic consistency of an enterprise’s official, shared master data assets. Organisations use master data for consistency, simplification, uniformity of process, analysis and communication across the business.
“MDM is the latest attempt to solve the old problem of inconsistent versions of important data at the centre of an organisation,” said Andrew White, research vice president at Gartner. “As with any new initiative, there is a lot of hype and confusion, and with hype and confusion comes misunderstanding. Executive sponsors of MDM and MDM programme managers must avoid several common mistakes that have been known to derail MDM initiatives in the past.”
To clarify some of the confusing and conflicting points of view on MDM, Gartner has highlighted the prevalent myths surrounding MDM alongside an explanation of the realities.
Myth 1: MDM Is About Implementing a Technology
Reality: MDM is much less about technology and much more about understanding how business processes are supposed to work.
Myth 2: MDM Is a Project
Reality: MDM is implemented as a programme that forever changes the way the business creates and manages its master data. However, to adopt MDM will require numerous discrete projects.
Myth 3: We Don’t Need MDM; We Have an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW)
Reality: MDM should/will span the organisation across all business units and processes (including data stores, operational and analytical).
Myth 4: Implementing ERP Means You Don’t Need MDM
Reality: Enterprise resource planning (ERP) generally means a packaged business application strategy, most often centered on a single, large vendor. ERP implied, but rarely realised for the user organisation, a single process and data model across the organisation.
Myth 5: MDM Is for Large, Complex Enterprises Only
Reality: The principle of MDM is applied whenever two or more business processes must view or share (master) data. This means that most organisations have a need for the discipline of MDM even if they don’t call it that, or if they implement a separate technology called MDM.
Myth 6: Metadata Is ‘the’ Key to MDM
Reality: Metadata is critical to MDM (and many efforts outside MDM), but how metadata is applied in the context of MDM differs by domain, industry, use case and implementation style.
Myth 7: MDM Is an IT Effort
Reality: MDM must be driven by the business, a business case, and supported/enabled by IT.
Myth 8: MDM Is Just Too Big to Do
Reality: MDM can be and is most presently being adopted one domain or province at a time, and one use case at a time.
Myth 9: MDM Is Separate to Data Governance and Data Quality
Reality: MDM includes governance (of master data) and data quality (of master data) — MDM cannot be established without them.
Myth 10: It Doesn’t Matter Which MDM Technology Vendor You Use — They All ‘Do’ MDM
Reality: MDM is complex; rarely do two organisations’ MDM programmes look alike. Vendor MDM capability has also focused on specialisation across data domain, industry, use case, organisation and implementation style. Consequently, vendor selection is critical if organisations are to find the right partner.