I recently had an interesting discussion with Ravi Shankar, Director of Product Marketing at Siperian, about emerging best practices for enterprise-wide MDM initiatives. Siperian provides MDM hubs for large companies across a number of industries. Now, I have noted before that MDM is a complex undertaking that needs to be thought about at a strategic level. An enterprise-wide MDM deployment is not going to happen all at once. Here are three points related to the idea of strategic enterprise-wide MDM that I found worth noting:
Business-Centric vs. Entity-Centric MDM
Siperian is seeing a growing number of companies entering into MDM in response to a particular business solution area and asking what entities are needed for that solution, rather than the other way around. Let’s call this a business-centric approach to MDM rather than an entity-centric approach. The entity-centric approach addresses entities- the products data, account data, the contracts, etc. – one at a time. It is technical in nature. The business-centric approach addresses a specific business problem – such as processing benefits and payroll or processing sales leads – and examines all of the entities needed to support the initiative. The business-centric approach to MDM provides a complete solution to the business problem and illustrates the value of MDM in a tangible way.
A solution-based evolutionary approach to enterprise-wide MDM
Companies viewing MDM at a strategic level are adopting a well-planned evolutionary approach. This might consist of starting with a single MDM implementation for a particular business solution, with a single hub, multiple entities, certain architectural style (coexistence, transactional, or registry) and a mix of operational or analytical usages. As a company develops more business solutions, each with its own hub, with multiple, potentially overlapping entities, and perhaps different architectural and usage styles these solutions need to be linked together. For example, a company might have separate masters, with some overlapping entities, one for a certain business solution and another for a different business solution. Siperian is seeing companies use a federated MDM approach to link these hubs together.
Local to enterprise-level Data Governance
Data governance is obviously a huge part of the development effort. In the first hub, usually local data governance will suffice. However, once multiple hubs are deployed, each utilizing some of the same entities, a cross-functional data governance approach is required. This can involve local data stewards working cross-functionally with an enterprise data governance council.
Of course, the business side of the house needs to be involved with all of this. They need to own the business solution. They are central to the governance effort. They need to fund the federated hub. Once divisions in a company can get past the politics and perceived bureaucracy of MDM an enterprise-wide MDM deployment is doable, as evidenced by the growing number of companies that have actually accomplished this.