The Boston Chapter of TDWI had its quarterly meeting yesterday with a theme on Master Data Management (MDM). We had a keynote presentation titled “Master Data Management (MDM): Data Salvation or Your Next Data Silo?” We also had a terrific panel discussion on MDM with representatives from IBM (IBM), Business Objects/SAP (SAP), Oracle (ORCL) and Kalido. The panel consisted of an interesting mix including sales management, a CTO and two representing field organizations.
In keeping with the general nature of TDWI events we limited the hype and sales pitches. I moderated and have to compliment the panelists on keeping the focus on providing the attendees with the successes of MDM experiences along with the cautions and dangers that one may encounter.
A few key points:
MDM needs to be a business-driven endeavor. The business must feel the need and participate for success. IT cannot build MDM without business.
The MDM effort needs to be focused on delivering real business value and solve specific business problems (top-line improvement or bottom-line cost reductions.) Justifying a MDM program with a declaration of achieving a "single version of the truth" or "360 degree view of the customer" just won’t do anymore. This “Field of Dreams” scenario is too nebulous.
As one panelist said “MDM is for life, not just for Christmas.” MDM is not a onetime project but an ongoing program. And the successful programs just keep getting more to do.
The best candidates for MDM are those companies that have felt the pain and are already educated about how difficult it is to get master data defined and blessed by the business. In analytical MDM efforts, the best candidates are those that have been doing enterprise data warehousing for awhile and have already started some form of data governance even if it is only in its infancy.
MDM is about people, politics and processes rather than technology. Actually, I said that not the panelists, but they agreed with me.
Although it was a little tough to get them to admit it, they all agreed that MDM were not small projects in terms of time, people or budgets. They kept telling us that you could start on a small scale but it probably did involve millions of dollars. The early adopters they mentioned though generally spent a good deal on their initial efforts.
It was a very interesting and informative afternoon.