Kimball University: Pick the Right Approach to MDM - InformationWeek

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Kimball University: Pick the Right Approach to MDM

It's time to migrate master data management upstream to an integration hub or, ideally, an enterprise MDM system. And if you have yet to do anything about data consistency, take these four steps toward integration and stewardship.

I admit I'm a little slow sometimes when it comes to embracing market trends. That's because I think many market trends end up being more hype than substance, but that's not always the case. Take master data management, a trend that has been at the top of the technology buzzwords list for the last few years. A decade ago, the idea of creating and maintaining a single source for information about customers, products and other entities was considered a pipe dream, but this is a trend that is increasingly real.

Warren Thornthwaite
This article examines the problems addressed and the business value delivered by master data management. We'll also look at the three common approaches to creating and managing master data, detailing the pros and cons of each approach. Finally, we'll give you four solid recommendations on how to proceed with master data management no matter which approach makes the most sense for your organization.

Source System Disparities

The difficulties in creating a single view of the enterprise stem from the quality of source-system data. One of the biggest challenges is that multiple source systems collect and maintain their own versions of the same data elements. We find entries for the same customer in separate systems when the Web registration screen captures customer name and address while the shipping system keeps another copy of the customer's name and address. When that customer calls for support, we create another customer record and capture another address. The same customer may even have duplicate entries within the same system, as when the customer registers twice on the same Web site.

One of the goals of ERP systems was to address this problem by creating a single, centralized transaction system with data elements that are shared across all transaction processes. The "E" stands for "enterprise," right? Most organizations have yet to reach this level of source-system integration. They either have systems outside the ERP system or are using the ERP system independently. In other words, multiple divisions or business units may have separate customer sets that might even be kept in the same physical table. When it comes time to create an enterprise information resource, these "separate" divisions have usually been working with many of the same customers.

The problem gets worse when you have to include data from external sources. External customer demographic data, retail product sales data and even product data from manufacturers or distributors rarely have the same customer or product keys as your internal systems.

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