A master data initiative is meant to deliver a unified and well-integrated source of cross-organizational data that is reliable and up-to-date, while eliminating silos and redundancies across the organization. Master data management (MDM) software solutions comprise an essential piece for trustworthy analytics that lead to better decision-making. Master data is also a much-needed accompaniment for big data analytics, providing critical context for big data, and as a means to connect big data analytics to business objectives and value.
We're seeing more offerings for MDM services from IT and solutions consultants, managed services providers, and software vendors – with cloud platforms playing a clear role in these offerings. Third party technology services often result in lower costs and faster time to solution use and to the engendering of business value. Unfortunately providers of MDM services frequently only target IT groups, and, as such, fail to include the very important business stakeholders in a client organization. A technology-only approach to MDM results in significant pieces missing from the puzzle, which will impede how well MDM will work for an organization, particularly to produce business value.
These missing pieces relate to people, organizational change and new processes, which in turn often give rise to internal political issues that must be identified and dealt with. For successful MDM initiatives, technology should take a back seat until thorough understanding is mapped out for the people, practices and processes of the organization. Otherwise there will be a serious impairment of the integrated vision of how a master data initiative impacts the organization and the work that is done to achieve business objectives.
A focus solely on technology ensures that the needs and requirements of the business won't be met, and that the MDM initiative will fail to address essential non-technology elements, such as relationships with key people. Business champions, stakeholders and influencers are all critical to the success of any MDM project.
Data governance is another crucial function that aligns the important elements of people, practices and processes with master data management. Again, the plan for data governance must be in place from the beginning of an MDM initiative. It is an essential apparatus for helping to mitigate the many obstacles that can plague MDM.
Third party services providers have a big opportunity for providing MDM services. But such services must include the business and people sides of the story. Often a neutral outside consultancy or service provider can help achieve the organizational change required for MDM to make a difference for businesses. Service provider insight and experience enables the identification of problems from the beginning and provides useful solutions and guidance for clients to mitigate internal politics.
Services providers must be prepared to develop a well-structured MDM vision for clients that aligns to and realistically supports overall corporate strategies, business unit goals and optimal business operations. Such a vision must address not only how business is done today, but what organizations want to accomplish further down the road. A focus on technology alone cannot achieve this sort of visionary work. By providing the full scope of work for MDM initiatives, a service provider will stand well above those who only focus on MDM as a technology "project".
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About the author: Julie Hunt understands the overlap and convergence of many business processes and software solutions that once were thought of as "separate" – and how this impacts software Vendors and Buyers, as well as the strategies that enterprises implement for how technology supports the business and its customers. Julie shares her takes on the software industry via her blog Highly Competitiveand on Twitter: @juliebhunt For more information: Julie Hunt Consulting