Digital transformation + master data management (MDM): 3 misconceptions

Don’t let these common misconceptions about master data management (MDM) derail your digital transformation efforts, writes Sungard AS CIO
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Organizations are always trying to make things simpler. Simplicity helps end users, and most importantly, it’s what they expect.

So imagine this scenario: Your end users want a 360-degree view of their customer, but in order to get the most up-to-date information, they must log in to the CRM portal to look for sales activity, the customer service system for ticket info, and the billing system for their latest invoice. High marks for user experience? Not likely.

That’s where master data management (MDM) comes in.

MDM allows end users to access the most current data without working across multiple systems in the enterprise. It ensures your company’s different systems all speak the same language and creates data consistency across the board. This is achieved through data sharing or APIs instead of maintaining a central repository or duplicating data across systems.

[ For more on MDM, read Why master data management is key to digital transformation. ]

If you are undergoing , digital transformation, you might be tempted to go all-in on MDM. However, there are some misconceptions about how MDM works that may steer organizations in the wrong direction.

Here are three of the biggest misconceptions about MDM that could hinder or derail your digital transformation efforts if you’re not careful.

1. You can jump right into MDM

Before you can even begin to think about MDM, you need to determine data ownership:

  • Who owns the data?
  • Who gets to see the data?
  • Who’s allowed to make changes to the data outside of the owner?

If your goal is to get all your systems speaking the same language, the last thing you need is too many cooks in the kitchen. The owner of the data must step up and set the parameters. Only after you determine who has access to the data, who’s permitted to update the data, and who’s going to maintain the data will you be ready to move ahead with MDM.

If your goal is to get all your systems speaking the same language, the last thing you need is too many cooks in the kitchen.

2. You must centralize all your master data

Don’t place master data into a single source to maintain and manage. That’s a bad idea.

Instead, identify which system owns the data and where all changes to that data are made, then allow other systems to access the data within the source system through microservices or APIs.

MDM isn’t about moving or copying your data. It’s about making all the master data visible through data exchange. So, if you’re thinking about moving or duplicating your master data to a centralized system, we have a piece of advice: Don’t.

[ Want answers to key digital transformation questions and lessons from top CIOs? Get our Digital transformation cheat sheet. ]

3. MDM is for everyone

Whether your focus is on improving the customer experience or simplifying internal processes, MDM should only be implemented with an endgame in mind.

Don’t turn to MDM just for the sake of having it – MDM should be a means to an end. Think about what you’re trying to achieve and ask yourself if MDM helps you get there. If the answer is no, then an MDM solution is not the right strategy for you.

A final piece of advice: Don’t rush in. MDM is a great way to take control of your company’s enterprise architecture, but it’s not something you should rush into.

Many organizations have systems that are 10 to 15 years old. Making sure every system speaks the same language while also establishing data ownership is no small task. Implementing an MDM solution when you’re not ready – or for the wrong reasons – will do more harm than good.

[ How can automation free up more staff time for innovation? Get the free e-book: Managing IT with Automation. ] 

Chris Fielding is the Chief Information Officer for Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS). She joined the company in 2008 and held several positions before taking on her current role in January of 2018. A seasoned IT leader with over 30 years of experience in the global arena, Chris previously held senior-level positions at TIBCO, Vodafone and Oracle.