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Leveraging Information and Intelligence

David Linthicum

Master Data Management is Slow on the Uptake

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Master Data Management, or MDM, seems like a good idea for large enterprises out there that want to manage their core business data, and make sure that both a common set of semantics is kept, and that the number of redundant data sets is controlled or eliminated. However, despite the focus on MDM, and the clear need to solve this problem, there has been little success within traditional enterprises.


MDM is really about understand the core data within the enterprise and working to make sure that that an enterprise does not use multiple inconsistent versions of the same master data in different parts of the enterprise. A simple problem to solve? Yes. Are enterprises solving it? No.


The fact of the matter is that there has been so little focus on data in terms of enterprise architecture that masses amounts of redundant data are really the norm. Just look at how many times you're storing the same customer information in different systems, and how many semantic definitions you have for a sales transaction.


We got here through years of managing-by-magazine, and dragging in whatever business systems seemed cool at the time without regard for architecture or MDM. Thus, we've ended up with many stovepipe applications that have their own independent processes and the own independent data. I suspect that the movement towards cloud computing will mean that this problem actually gets worse as more systems are outsourced to cloud providers without a data integration and MDM strategy.


Time to get serious about MDM, keep an eye on this blog for helpful tidbits. The first one is that it's time to get busy.


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I gotta admit: I have serious reservations about master data management. Oh, certainly I see the need for master data management. Of course you need to resolve conflicts and create a single view of your most critical data. It makes sense. But that's no... Read More

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I don't want to count the enterprises who run on import/export of excel datasheets (hint: it's +1 quadzillion). If asked why: users are familiar with this work method, read: their comfort zone. It all comes down to interfaces (first hand experience): offer a clear, consistent, intelligent interface, feed a decent MDM system who does the right conversion (if needed) and offer the data in another interface to the other user and voila. Now, change the word "user" by "system", go to an IT department and you'll get the answer "can't be done", but that's another discussion (but yes: it can be done).

Industry expert Dave Linthicum tells you what you need to know about building efficiency into the information management infrastructure

David Linthicum

David Linthicum is the CTO of Blue Mountain Labs, and an internationally known distributed computing and application integration expert. View more

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