What is a Data Management Platform?

 

A data management platform is a software tool that provides your organisation with a framework for collating, coordinating and using data from across all sections of your business.

 

A data management platform can create reliable and up-to-date master records relating to products, customers, suppliers, employees, documents and other record categories and types.


 

What is master data management?

Master data management (MDM) is a process that provides your organisation with practices for the handling of data, bringing consistency and accuracy to your complex data structures.

Master data management combines information from separate systems to create master data records that improve how information is used. By implementing a master data management system and developing good data management principles, you will be able to integrate and coordinate data that exists in separate silos or systems. Creating a system that handles data effectively is critical if you are seeking to improve customer experience and achieve digital transformation in your organisation.

 

What happens without master data management?

Corporate information is amassed quickly. Data volumes are ever-increasing, and most businesses are finding that amount of records that need to be retained and stored is growing exponentially. Customers have more complex interactions across multiple channels as time goes on. Data problems that some organisations are facing are:

  • Customers are using different email accounts or social profiles to interact
  • Multiple channels of communication are used in the marketing mix
  • Teams are located in different states or countries
  • Information is stored in separate systems- such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), content management systems (CMS) and Digital Asset Systems (DAMS)
  • There are also separate personnel, finance, accounting, stock management and product systems
  • There are little integration options for data in silos
  • No capacity to test data integrity or roll out updates across systems

 

Without master data management in place, you run the risk of having data that is incorrect, inconsistent, fragmented and invalid. Data checks and validation cannot be run across separated systems. With these issues, your customers notice that their dealings with you seem confused, and uncoordinated. You may have an inability to generate accurate reporting and analytics.

 

Poor governance and access to information that is stored or buried in systems can cause trouble for compliance, regulatory bodies and taxation. This can impact your reputation or worse lead to a PR problem if word of your failings hit social media. Master data management is extremely beneficial in terms of marketing, brand management, sales, and customer experience and retention. It helps you ensure you have the high quality, accurate and centralised data you need to meet consumer expectations.

 

Golden records and truth from one source

These terms may seem unfamiliar if you haven’t worked with a master data management system before. When you employ a master data management system, you will have access across the entire organisation to accurate and up-to-date data that may originate from a variety of other systems.

 

The concept of golden records in master data management relates to the idea that the combined and collated data works together to create a master version that you can rely on. You can have confidence it is entirely accurate. A golden record is about as valuable as Charlie Bucket’s Golden Ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!

 

The notion of truth from one source is a similar concept. The combined data is held in one place; you can rely on it for being completely up-to-date. There is no chance of updates being done on files that are being passed around by email, or sitting on someone’s drive. If updates are made to a record by a colleague in the next room, or interstate or even overseas, that update will be made anywhere and everywhere that it needs to be in real-time.

 

Data management for enterprise

Accurate data creates value for your enterprise. But data management for your business is not just about tech. It is about how information is created, stored, mobilised and used right across the business. Data management is not just a concern for the I.T Team. To ensure effective data management you will need everyone on board. How information is handled in your organisation relates to a number of key factors- hierarchies, channels, policies, procedures, use and governance.

 

A properly planned and implemented MDM system will allow your people to collaborate and share, while not having to worry about version control or out of date information. When you have an extensive product catalogue or a detailed online offering, MDM will also improve the experience of your customers. In fact, it is what allows your business to pivot to see the information needs of your customer as just as important as the knowledge needs of your employees.

 

Most enterprise businesses are dealing with data that has a high degree of complexity- thousands of products, hundreds of customers, segmented email lists, offers and campaigns that are location or customer-specific.

 

Internal benefits of master data management

Because your data permeates all sections of your business, a master data management system will bring benefits across the board. A number of teams will benefit:

  • Media, marketing and communications
  • Accounts payable
  • Accounts receivable
  • Information Technology and analytics
  • HR
  • Governance, compliance, records, data integrity teams
  • Procurement, stores and stock control

 

 

Master Data Management case study

At 10.30pm one Sunday night, Sophie received an email from her insurance company. It said “We’re pleased to attach the claim details you have requested. We are always happy to have a chat and help you with the information you need. But did you know we have got a secure member site for you to manage your membership, access your claims history and submit claims online?”

 

Although the email seemed to contain her client number, and the claim document was related to her son’s recent hospitalisation, Sophie was worried the email was spam. She had not requested claim details, at least not that she could recall, and certainly had spoken to anyone that day, and why were they sending this email at 10.30pm on a Sunday? The email raised concerns about the data integrity of Sophie’s financial and health records.

 

Sophie sent an email to the company’s main email address to check if the email was valid, and to ascertain why it had been sent. She was sent a reply saying she would need to provide her membership details before she could be provided with any assistance- and this was to “protect the privacy and security” of her personal information.

 

A subsequent email informed her that information about her recent claim had been stored incorrectly when transferred from claims to monthly accounts. The process of creating separate records related to Sophie’s situation meant that there was no validating, matching or merging of data. Not a good look from a company detailing with such personal information.

 

What will an MDM help you achieve?

Customers today expect that their data and information will be handled sensitively and carefully. Most consumers are aware that information about what they view or buy is gathered, in order to provide them with more suitable offers and opportunities. A master data management system will allow you greater flexibility when creating marketing messages for segments or groups of customers. An MDM will help you to curate content for customers and present a holistic service offering.

 

Your master data management system will help you:

  • Deliver effective customer relationship management
  • Track customer interactions
  • Understand the preferences and perspectives of your customers
  • Help assure customers that their personal information is held securely
  • Keep track of customer concerns and issues, and respond through the most appropriate channel
  • Map customer networks

 

Data management software

If you are ready to transform how data is used in your business, you will need to decide which data management software you think will best suit. There are many master data management solutions on the market. To determine which is best for you, outlining your overall objectives is a great place to start. You will need to be clear about other constraining factors such as timeframes, budget and capacity to customise. The most customisation required, the greater the skill level you need internally, or the bigger the budget. Customisation will also impact roll out times. Furthermore, some master data management systems prove to be more popular within certain industries.

 

To qualify as master data management, G2 determined the following criteria:

  • Track data from multiples sources related to an organisation, specifically department performance metrics
  • Consolidate, organise, and store master data, filtering for duplicate information and inconsistencies and presenting findings in a clean format
  • Provide administrators with tools and/or initiatives related to master data
  • Export MDM data as necessary to other software tools

 

Master Data management systems

This G2 assessment looked at a total of 112 master data management systems including:

  • Pimcore
  • SAP Netweaver MDM
  • IBM (Infosphere MDM)
  • Syndigo Content Experience Hub
  • Dell Boomi
  • Oracle MDM
  • Rivers and Enterprise MDM

 

With so many to choose from, which is the best master data management system out there? As the G2 study shows, there is not one standout system. To decide which MDM is best for your business, it is worth considering the following details.

  • Timing- how long will roll out take, and is timing critical for your desired outcome?
  • Budget- what will be the cost for setup and ongoing licensing?
  • Maturity when dealing with data- what existing processes are in place?
  • The number of data sources- how disparate is your data?
  • Quality of originating data source- are there lots of incomplete or damaged records?
  • Organisational commitment- how ready are your people for a change?
  • Internal capabilities- do you have the technical knowledge and support for change you will need?
  • Availability of support- what can you provide if there are internal gaps?
  • Performance and scalability- will it grow with your needs?

 

When considering the pros and cons of each product, there are also some decisions to make about technical elements.

  • Product licensing structure- what will your solution offer and how will access be arranged?
  • Product structure- what format are master records created and stored in and how does the underlying database work?
  • Integration suitability and methodology- do data structures match and align?
  • Domain use- will you require a single or multi-domain model?
  • Storage- do you require storage on-site or in the cloud?

 

Data management principles

 

A master data management system will help you to establish simple, consistent customer records. It will enable you to deliver good information governance. To prepare for the acquisition of a data management system, you will need to make sure your organisation is adhering to proper data management principles. This means ensuring there are processes in place that state conditions for how data is created, stored and used. The principles of data management also require individuals the knowledge to make decisions related to information, and that there be a process for issues.

 

Assessment of existing data sources will help you determine the preparedness for migration to an MDM. George Firican for LinkedIn provides ten data management principles which highlight how much of an asset your organisation’s data really is. Data governance is the foundation on which your enterprise information system will be built. In acknowledging how critical the truth from one source model is, he also says:

 

  • There needs to be a commitment to an ongoing data management program
  • Create a glossary with data definitions so there is no ambiguity
  • Ensure people understand their roles and responsibility
  • Ensure data management complies with legal and regulatory requirements, is supported by policy and follows best practice
  • Communicate the value that is placed on information

 

Following a data management plan

A data management plan will help you adhere to good data management principles and achieve an effective master data management system. Actions in your plan may include:

 

  • Assessing data integrity
  • Developing specifications for master records
  • Engaging change agents, key users and leaders
  • Establishing information goals and deliverables

 

The bottom line: Master data management can help you achieve a consistent, seamless and highly automated way of interacting with your customers. It will help you to consolidate and simplify processes across separate data systems. Working with MDM tools will create an improved customer experience, better brand positioning and overall an increased revenue base.