Driving Competitive Advantages with Master Data Management

Master Data Management - Customer and Product
Do you feel like your databases are more like data vaults? The data vault contains all the information on customers, prospects, products, operations, and finances, only no one knows how to unlock it and discover its secrets.

Getting inside the vault is only the start of the challenges. Inside, it contains a myriad of data silos, including databases, data lakes, file systems, and other technologies, storing multiple copies of critical data in different formats. Outside the vault, the enterprise has a broad mix of SaaS tools that also contain vast troves of essential data. Plus, there’s an ecosystem of third-party data that, if integrated and joined correctly, can help establish context and better analytical insights.

Understanding and selecting the right data management tools to open the data vault and properly connect enterprise data shouldn’t be as unfamiliar as a locksmith’s toolkit. For many organizations, implementing a master data management platform, practices, and collaboration is the Swiss army knife to accelerate a transformation to data transparency.

The Business Value of What Resides in Your Databases

Many organizations start their journey of data discovery by relying on dashboards, reports, or spreadsheets that connect to one or more data sources and provide a glimpse of what’s in the vault. These tools help people view the data as-is and develop insights, but also create new data silos and expose many underlying data quality issues. They also don’t depict the data lineage of how data got there in the first place or whether it should be joined with other datasets to deliver the correct insights.

These are some of the underlying issues, but improving data quality is just a start. The more meaningful goal is to deliver business value by establishing comprehensive customer data profiles, end-to-end views of supply chains, or complete product life cycle views.  One example is in retail, where developing a full customer view of digital and in-store interactions enables hyper-personalization of the customer experience and fully informing customer-facing teams.  Another example is a consumer packaged good companies that can track the full lifecycle of their products, including supply chains, manufacturing, distribution, sales, and service.

Many organizations recognize the business value of Amazon’s experience and Walmart’s controls over its supply chain. That end to end visibility is driving disruption in retail and is becoming a critical capability in many sectors, including financial services, insurance, and manufacturing. That’s because regulation, privacy, and security considerations are requiring organizations, especially global ones, to have increased visibility and controls over their operations. 

Data Transparency as a Competitive Value

Progressive organizations are looking beyond operations, regulatory controls, and customer experience as the rationale to invest in master data management and enable data-driven organizations. 

These organizations recognize the competitive advantages of being hyper-transparent with not only customers and regulators, but with potential customers, employees, partners, and social media influencers. This extended group wants to believe in the mission, values, and principles of the companies they choose to do business with and providing them increased levels of transparency can be a competitive differentiator.

Where are your product materials sourced? What are the environmental impacts of the manufacturing process? What are the working conditions for all the people touching the product across all aspects of the supply chain? When a potential customer views a product or service, can you establish the context of their search and personalize how customers similar to them succeed with your products and services? Can you quickly adapt the supply chain to changing regulations, environment conditions, or political instability?      

How Master Data Management Drives New Business

Answering these broader questions requires connecting business entities such as customers, products, partners, and supply chains across all enterprise systems and SaaS tools. It requires breaking the notion that any single system owns all the data around these entities. Instead, a master data management tool centralizes these entities and publishes data changes to the impacted systems. 

It also requires identifying data silos that contain copies of data, but likely also harbor important calculations and enrichment. 

For example, when a customer changes their address on the website, several systems, including the CRM, ERP, and distribution systems, are updated with this change. In this way, master data management systems contain the business rules on how to resolve conflicting data elements and present consistent views to connected systems.

That’s just the basic because once the essential business entities are centralized, it enables leaders to ask broader questions on all aspects of the business. Once leaders understand the breadth of enterprise data and trust their data sources, the added transparency enables them to deliver a far more proactive and personalized experience with a broader ecosystem of people.  

What does this transparency look like in different industries? Retailers learn from their prospects and can develop products for new markets. Manufacturers can shorten time to market by tracking service parts and suppliers. Financial institutions can accelerate product development and reduce risks by centralizing product, reference, and location data. 

The implication is that business leaders are not just optimizing today’s business decisions. The added transparency enables them to learn, adapt, and grow business to evolving market conditions. 

This post is brought to you by Stibo Systems.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Stibo Systems,

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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld, CIO.com, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.