Hi folks - welcome to our blog on all things related to master data management! We have finallyemerged from our caves, blinking into the unfamiliar sunlight, after working for 18 months on our book, Enterprise Master Data Management: A SOA Approach to Managing Core Information. All of us are taking some time to reacquaint ourselves with our families, who haven'tseen much of us over the past year and a half.
In my case, I had a conversation with my mom that was very similar to ones that I had with manyof my friends and family:
Mom: "So, son, what have you been doing for so long that you couldn't take the time to visitor call your mother?"
Delinquent Son: "I've been collaborating with five friends on a book about SOA and Master Data Management."
Mom: "Huh? What is 'master data management'?"
Delinquent Son: "Mom, as we say in our book (and yes, Mom, I am sending you a copy) master data is the core information used by enterprises across multiple business processes. This information includes data about customers, products, locations, suppliers and so on, as well as the relationships between the different pieces of master data.Master Data Management is the architecture, technologies and business processes that deliver an authoritative source of master data."
Mom: "When will you start speaking English? Put your lovely wife on the phone."
OK, it looks like I need a new approach to describing what MDM is all about. In conversations with otherfamily and friends, I ask them if they have ever had a problem with a business where the business just can'tseem to get the right information about them. Now that elicits some very interesting responses, and helpspeople get a perspective on the problems that we are trying to solve with MDM. A sample of some masterdata problems that have been experienced by the authors and some friends and family (with the nameschanged to protect the guilty):
- One author's mortgage provider continues to refer to him by his wife's last name, despite efforts to correct that problem (this was fictionalized in chapter 9 of the book.)
- Another of the authors tried to upgrade from an analog phone line (which was a second phone line) to DSL. He received a letter confirming the upgrade and was told the change would be made in the next week. Then the fun began. After 10 days had passed without the DSL being installed, he called the company. The first customer service representative (CSR) couldn't find his customer number. The next CSR found the customer number and the order number, but had no one to fulfill the order. The following day our intrepid author called back to the telco, only to find that the order request had been cancelled! This went on for four weeks, with calls of 1 hour every day to multiple help lines, where each help desk could not see the full set of correct master data (including one with an address from two years previous.) - An IBM colleague who works with our publisher tried to remove her ex-spouse's name from an account. The company told her that she could pay $60 to have his name removed.
- A customer told us that she and her husband each have 3 different entries in their financial services provider's customer information file. And one of the entries for her husband has his gender as female.
So, I called my mom (like a good son), and told her some of the stories above to give her a more concretenotion of master data, and the sorts of problems that master data management addresses.
Mom's response: "That's great, I really understand it now. But I have another question: What is SOA?"
If you have any suggestions on how to answer that one for Mom, please send us some comments :-)
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“My electricity bill is going through the roof, I need Green MDM!”
One popular new aspect we didn't cover in our book Enterprise Master Data Management: A SOA Approach to Managing Core Information. is the concept of Green computing.
According to a study by McKinsey & Co. entitled “Revolutionizing Data Center Efficiency Key Analyses”, data centers will surpass airlines as greenhouse gas polluters by 2020. That’s a nice attention getter and it might seem like a bit of a far reaching prediction. The problem with these statements is that they hardly ever get checked 12 years later. (I wonder if there is any comparative analysis on how good the predictions from the analyst firms are.) But regardless of the accurateness of this prophecy it is a fact that nationwide and worldwide power consumption by data centers is going up significantly, up to 16% year over year for a total estimated worldwide electric bill next year of $8.6B. This is supported by other studies. These numbers include the cost for powering the servers, but also for cooling, the lights, monitoring etc.
Higher energy cost is contributing to more interest in Green Computing technologies; these usually refer to the reduction of data center cost and energy consumption. Obviously Green Computing is not only good for the environment; there are also large potential cost savings for the business. A common area of interest is to look for technologies that reduce number of servers and the power requirements of individual servers.
Master Data Management (MDM) can help Green Computing in a number of ways. Some are directly related to the above mentioned energy cost, others are “green” in a different way.
MDM is aimed at providing accurate and trustworthy data regarding the most important business entities in the enterprise: customers, products, accounts, locations, etc. and to provide consistent use of those. For example it can provide a single, cleansed, version of customer data across the enterprise with appropriate access services. This single version can either be virtual, i.e. build on the fly from existing sources or actual, i.e. persisted and updated for every change in the sources.
Gartner defines several styles of MDM: Consolidation, Registry, Coexistence and Transaction. The Coexistence and Transaction styles offer the greenest potential. Consolidation and Registry could actually increase the required server footprint.
By reducing the number of repositories (copies) of master data in an organization there is an obvious opportunity to reduce the number of required servers. Reducing the amount of duplicate data via MDM data quality and data stewardship services means less redundant data is stored and used, which then leads to a reduction in energy requirements.
Deduplication and higher data quality through MDM can also lead to a reduction in cost and several “green” advantages:
- Better addresses leads to fewer duplicate and erroneous mailings and therefore a reduction in mailing cost. This also has the green advantage of reducing paper needs and reducing the energy consumption needed for transporting products and mail.
- Better contact information can reduce phone cost which has obvious business cost and energy savings. Keeping track of privacy preferences through MDM can lead to a higher hit ratio on the calls and therefore a reduction in energy needs of the call center.
- Better data can lead to better Business Intelligence (BI) and therefore to better business decisions. Some of these decisions can have green advantages such as e.g. keeping lower stock quantities and related energy savings.
In conclusion: Green MDM can be a win-win initiative, good for both the environment as well as the bottom line. Green MDM can go beyond the traditional Green computing area of saving IT resources and related energy consumption.