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October 12, 2007

Can we get some good MDM advice! Please?

I just finished reading an article by a leading industry analyst on Master Data Management and I am left begging for some good advice. The generic "blah, blah, blah," that is going on has got to stop or else this industry will certainly collapse under the hype that this IT analysis company so often complains about, and in this case is only too glad to participate.

In a nutshell, this person talks about the cornerstones for MDM and they are:
- Vision
- Strategy
- Governance - Organization
- Processes
- Technology Infrastructure
- Metrics

the difference between what this person wrote and what I just wrote above was that they prefaced every term with "MDM", so these cornerstoes were actually MDM Vision, MDM Strategy and so on. Wow, thanks for the brilliant insight... not! (as my 12 year old, or Borat for that matter, would say).

Let's see what other prefixes I could put into that list and still have it work:

- Corporate (Corporate vision, corporate strategy, corporate governance ... yup it works!)
- IT
- Business
- Financial
- HR
- Data
- Web 2.0 (not perfect, but not too bad)

yes, they all work, more or less as well. Let's continue:

- X-ray (OK that just works for Vision)

I think you get the point. This advice is so generic as to not be usefull at all. So rather than just complain, I will give you my more practical advice for how to start.

First, start by understanding your existing data landscape. You can't get where you are going if you don't know where you are. Since MDM is all about improving data consistency, your presumption is that you have data inconsistency problems or you wouldn't be considering MDM in the first place. So figure out what your current environment looks like.

More specifically, start by analyzing the data sources that you are planning on using to populate the MDM hub. Understand how attributes (columns) align both within and across your data sources. What are the commonalities, what are the differences and what are the conflicts. Do the same for each row of data, the cells and the data structures.

You can do this by writing SQL and using TOAD or by using any of a number of tools for data analysis available in the market (full disclosure... my company Exeros sells this kind of a tool). Make sure however that you can do analysis both within data sources and between data sources. Remember you are trying to find sources of redundancy and inconsistency across your data sources so cross system analysis is critical. Note that you don't have to analyze all of your data sources, just take a look at the most critical ones, you know what they are, and use that to extrapolate. From there you can establish a baseline from which to work and then put a more realistic plan in place.

Once you have done this, you have the basis for determining the work involved in rationalizing your data sources, you will have raw data to calculate the ROI of an MDM project by quantifying the % of inconsistencies in your data and by estimating the value of reducing or eliminating those inconsistencies. And you will also get a better grip on what else you need to do before you really get started.

For lack of a better term, I would call this an MDM Readiness Assessment.

So go get an MDM health check... start with an MDM Readiness Assessment.

Posted by Todd Goldman at October 12, 2007 4:45 PM


Todd, it's a fair point you make, but perhaps the reason for including MDM at the start of all the articles was for search engines finding the article (and the analyst) as well as part of the SEO strategy.

As for the other point of understanding the landscape, that's a fair point, but any MDM company worth the title (disclaimer: I do the PR for VisionWare PLC) is going to have staff trained up to find out where you are, what you want from the MDM and what you don't want (as important as the first two in my opinion).

Having said that, there are companies for which a MDM Readiness Assessment would be a good thing and I'm sure you'll see people take that idea and run with it as a checklist idea, nice one.

Posted by: Craig McGill at October 15, 2007 3:02 AM

Isn't MDM just another form of data consolidation? What makes it so radically different that it warrants it's own moniker?

Posted by: Bob at October 17, 2007 7:43 AM


MDM has been around for a while as a concept. Do you see MDM projects changing in nature or size? Are you finding that organizations are in better or worse position to take these projects on?


Posted by: Jim at October 25, 2007 1:28 PM

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