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Leveraging Information and Intelligence

David Linthicum

When MDM Means "Managing Dumb Meatheads"

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MDM, or Master Data Management, is one of those concepts that just makes sense without a lot of explanation. Thus, while I have to explain what it is, I almost never have to sell it.

This is a good thing, considering that the majority of work around MDM is really building the knowledge within people, and then the processes around the people to make MDM a reality. There is indeed a technology component, but it's actually the easiest problem to solve in the world of MDM.

So, let me get this straight, the concept is to manage data centrally thus eliminating redundancy and improving data quality. That's good, right? You would think.

Giving that MDM is largely a people issue I am finding that those in IT looking to implement MDM are having huge issues with selling the MDM concept internally. The core issue is that many promoting MDM are not "politically connected" and thus have a hard time implementing a MDM strategy, which is systemic to enterprise IT, and thus touches a bit of everything, including turfs.

What is obvious to those who read MDM blogs seems to get lost in translation to the rank and file IT guys, or those charged with running IT. Many see MDM as something that's going to remove control from those who are masters of databases and applications, and while no such thing is ever proposed, MDM strategy after MDM strategy is shot down out of the gate for political reasons.

I hate company politics such as this, since they are typically looking out for their own personal interest over the interest of the company. However, they are also the people that seem to survive and advance.

What's so bad about this is that many of you reading this blog are nodding your heads in agreement, and are experiencing the same issues within your enterprise. I'm not sure where MDM became so difficult to understand, and hard to implement, but it clearly is these days. You'll have to work around the meatheads.

1 Comment

It is not MDM that is hard to understand, it is the politics that are hard. More accurately, it is not even a corporate policies but the corporate organisation of accountability and related ownership.

A human nature usually says 'If I am accountable to somebody, I have to have all rights to do my job', which I read as 'I have to own everything my results might be dependent on'. This is why I have to own my data, my database and all things around it (vs. centrally managed data in MDM).

The problem here is the gap between 'accountability to' and 'responsibility for'. If I am accountable to my manager and my organisation for a service, this should not mean that I am responsible for getting data for my service; this should be somebody's else tasks (e.g. a task of data provider). Also, it is a responsibility of a cross-service team to combine my service with the data provider; the cross-service team has to have authority higher than mine and my manager. That is, I own the service, they own the service compositions (but not any service in this composition); our relationship must be based not on the management subordination but on the contracts and material incentives. Yes, it is a regulated market after all (as I write in my book Ladder to SOE).

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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