The Five Core Functional Areas of MDM

I can tell you what MDM is. One of the things that I find humorous in the technology world is whenever there’s a new term, everybody wants to repurpose, fold, spindle, and mutilate it to suit their needs. Master Data Management is a concept has been around many many years. In fact, probably more than 20 in some instances. So, the concept of Master Data Management is not new. I think the big difference of what’s occurred in the last few years is how have we taken technology and package and simplify being able to deliver or implement Master Data Management. Mastery to management is really about five core functions; content, relationship or grouping, access and security, something called change management and processing and I’ll quickly go through them just to make sure that we differentiated those five different functions. And the thing with Master Data Management, it’s not that you need all of these functions and all of these details, it’s really about understanding what are the pieces and parts that I require. You can almost think about Master Data Management the way you think about buying a car. Yeah, I want to go buy a pickup because I got to move stuff but think about all the options and auxiliary capabilities that a car could have if you choose to buy all those options. Do I need a stereo? Don’t want the leather gripped steering wheel. Do I want the great seats? So, I want the inexpensive seats. Do I want the back-end loader? Do I want a mesh or a steel tailgate? There’s lots of options and choices. The real important aspect is, let’s understand what the options are. I match them up with my requirements so I’m not over investing, over complicating things. So, getting back to those five functions real quickly. 

The Premise of MDM with Content

Content, the premise of Master Data Management with content if I’m making about a subject area, customer, or product, or location or one of many others is, what is the information that represents that subject? So, with a customer, it’s inevitably first name and last name, maybe their mailing address, maybe their home address and it’s making sure that when I use those terms; first name, last name, mailing address, that we understand what those mean and in fact that we represent those values consistently. Am I using state codes? Am I using state abbreviations? Is it a five-digit postal code or a nine-digit postal code? Those are the first aspects that Master Data Management brings to the table and ensures that the data’s understood and consistently represented. 

MDM Relationship or Groupings

Second piece we called, relationship and or hierarchies and groupings. It’s about how these different pieces and parts or entities are related to one another. Now, in the consumer world, when we are talking about people, well, how are people related? Because very often if I’m marketing, selling or even communicating, I don’t really communicate with one person at a time, I may communicate with the group. So, I want to understand, is there some method or mechanism that I can simplify keeping track of all these groups? The most common one is household for a consumer who’s everybody that lives under the same roof. Well, there are rules and details to describe that.  I can’t just say everybody lives under the same roof because what happens if it’s a 10-unit apartment complex? What happens if it’s a 10-unit condominium? What happens by and large if someone’s a heavy commuter and they have two or three different addresses? So, it’s very very important to establish where the crisp well-defined rules that allow us to understand who is this group? The other aspect maybe, I want to differentiate or establish who this group of customers are that are valuable to me? Maybe it’s high income. Maybe it’s related. Maybe it’s a particular location. What you often find within companies is everybody has their own way of labeling a group of customers but it’s not managed across different organizations. So, in fact, what happens is the finance group says, here’s my valuable group of customers. Why? Well because they pay their bill on time. Another group, maybe marketing says, I love these customers because they always respond to my marketing campaign so those are my high-value customer. Sales says, you know something it’s the people that buy stuff from me. Well, three different groups, they all use the term high-value customers. Why do we want to use Master Data Management? It’s not to prevent individuals from grouping things together. It’s making sure there’s no confusion that when I say, high-value customers, I’ve actually got a way that’s it’s communicated across all the different organizations and all the different systems. I mean someone might say, you know something I’ve got my great reporting tool or I’ve got this great database. Well that’s fine and dandy for everybody that uses that tool or that database but what happens if it’s another organization that’s five time zone’s away that’s using an entirely different system? The premise of Master Data Management in the same instance I categorize and identify how to identify Evan. I also agree here’s how we identify high-value customers or other types of groups. 

MDM Security and Access

Third area is access and I call security and access. It’s understanding who’s allowed to take a look and change this data. We actually have a client that says you know something, creating the list, the list of customers, that’s easy but what happens if something changes? Someone moves? A couple has a new child and lo and behold their household has now changed? Company comes out with new products and they have the new model years. Who’s allowed to actually update details? And in fact, if something’s just inaccurate, how do you determine who’s allowed to make that change? Now clearly there’s the concept data governance that goes through the rules and processes of determining the change itself. In other words, wait we’ve got a new model year we know that once October first comes, let’s come out and publish those values, but at the end of the day, who’s actually allowed to input the values themselves? What are those details and rules? That’s what the whole premise of access or the security is and we actually look at it four pieces. Who’s allowed to create it? Who’s allowed to look at it? Who’s allowed to update it and then finally delete it. And most people will never think about the read idea but think about what happened a few years ago, probably almost 10 now where they said you know something you’re not allowed to store or distribute social security number for individuals anymore. That was very very complicated for a lot of companies to implement because they didn’t have Master Data Management in place and Master Data Management would have allowed them to quickly understand, where is it stored? Who has access to it? And are we actually securing it correctly? 

MDM Data Quality and Monitoring – Change Management

Fourth area is called change management. Now where we talked about the security being able to understand who changed it, the whole premise of change management is communicating to everybody the values or the details have changed. One thing that the phone company does a phenomenally good job at is when you change your phone number and someone dials your old phone number, you get the phone call. It’s really not a big deal. You don’t worry about that. US postal service has a great change of address process and people sometimes say, oh they joke about it but by and large it works. If you move, you fill out the card. Do you go online? Your mail always finds you. I know with me if I move the bill collectors always find me but different story. In any event, so that’s really what we’re talking about and the concept is data change management. What MDM can bring to the table is when content changes, the right individuals are able to know about it. The system actually keeps track of those changes and communicates it. 

Match and Identification – MDM Processing

Finally, processing is esoteric or academic as processing sounds, the idea is if we’re trying to compare or identify two names with two addresses and determine, is this the same person? It’s understanding what equal or like really means. My name is Evan Levy, it could be represented as Evan J Levy, E J Levy, several different variations. Now in a computer world, an equal means exact. Reality is no. There could be lots of different representations of things or you walk into a hardware store and say, listen, I need a six-inch lag bolt. I want 10 threads an inch. I want it to be a quarter inch in diameter. That’s a very simple way of describing it but what if you don’t have all that detail? Well, do you want it in brass? Could it be in steel? Do you have to worry about rust? So, the whole idea of understanding, are these two things that are actually alike? So once again, there’s five core functional areas; content, grouping, security and access, change management and processing. 

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Credits to: Evan Levy, VP of Business Consulting and Data Management System