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Colin White

I like the various blogs associated with my many hobbies and even those to do with work. I find them very useful and I was excited when the Business Intelligence Network invited me to write my very own blog. At last I now have somewhere to park all the various tidbits that I know are useful, but I am not sure what to do with. I am interested in a wide range of information technologies and so you might find my thoughts will bounce around a bit. I hope these thoughts will provoke some interesting discussions.

About the author >

Colin White is the founder of BI Research and president of DataBase Associates Inc. As an analyst, educator and writer, he is well known for his in-depth knowledge of data management, information integration, and business intelligence technologies and how they can be used for building the smart and agile business. With many years of IT experience, he has consulted for dozens of companies throughout the world and is a frequent speaker at leading IT events. Colin has written numerous articles and papers on deploying new and evolving information technologies for business benefit and is a regular contributor to several leading print- and web-based industry journals. For ten years he was the conference chair of the Shared Insights Portals, Content Management, and Collaboration conference. He was also the conference director of the DB/EXPO trade show and conference.

Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Colin's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!

July 2006 Archives

I constantly see presentations, conferences, articles, reports, web seminars, and so forth, where CDI and MDM are often presented as being one of the same. While there is no question that CDI is a valuable technology for integrating customer data, it is important to realize that CDI is only one step in the long journey toward managing enterprise wide master data. CDI is not the only starting point in this journey either. In fact, a recent study by the business intelligence network shows that organizations often don't start with customer data. This is because many of the products are immature and because of the complexity and volume of data involved.

It is also important to realize that master data integration doesn't always equate to master data management. There are many good CDI solutions out there, but many of them don't have sound management capabilities for supporting master data hierarchies, master data versioning, historical master data, master metadata, data lineage reporting, and so on.

Many CDI deployments have evolved from customer ODS and/or customer analytics projects. My concern here is that CRM and data warehousing designers and experts are frequently driving these projects in isolation. They often don''t have the required knowledge, business transaction expertise, and enterprise perspective to move the CDI project toward true enterprise MDM, and the result will be therefore be a CDI silo.

Enterprise MDM is more than just about customer data and data warehousing. MDM involves other types of master data both for BI and business transaction processing. An MDM system is responsible for managing and supplying master data to both business transaction and BI systems. It will take time for organizations to get to full enterprise MDM. There will be many interim steps, like deploying a CDI hub, for example. It is important, therefore, to have a strategic MDM plan, even if the MDM system is built bottom up. The bottom line is think strategically, but build iteratively in a planned manner. A response to my last blog on MDM summarizes the situation nicely:

"... at BP we are managing no less than 350 different categories of master data, only two of which are product and customer. The same issues permeate large corporations, whether the data is HR related, supply chain, asset, brand, etc. Forward looking companies are taking an integrated approach to the problem rather than a siloed approach."

I totally agree. Many thanks to Andy Hayler for his comment. What do you think? Let me know your thoughts about CDI and MDM.

Posted July 31, 2006 10:43 PM
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As a part of the research project Claudia Imhoff and I are doing on master data management we did a short survey on the Business Intelligence Network about MDM usage in companies. Of the 60 companies responding to the survey, 30 were planning MDM projects, 7 had implemented an MDM solution, and 23 had no MDM plans. Of the 37 companies working on MDM, 26 were focused on product data, 23 on customer data, and 9 on financial data. It was interesting to note that the focus on product master data was higher than on customer master data, which is surprising.

One key focus of the report we are working on is the difference between master data integration and master data management. Many MDM projects focus on integration, i.e., they try to solve the symptoms of master data problems, rather than attack the root cause. Management of master data on the the other hand focuses not only creating a single system of record, but also focuses on the systems of entry where master data problems are created. True enterprise MDM also handles the management of past, present and planned master data hierarchies. Such a system is extremely valuable for driving data warehouse design.

In the survey we gave two definitions for MDM. One was oriented toward master data integration and technology, whereas the other was oriented toward true enterprise MDM and MDM disciplines. 19 respondents opted for the technology definition, whereas 39 chose the enterprise MDM definition.

The MDM report and a follow on Web seminar will be available shortly.

Posted July 21, 2006 10:09 AM
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