I, along with my peers who cover master data management (MDM) and related topics like business intelligence and data warehousing, are back from Gartner’s MDM Summit conference. Clearly MDM a hot topic, since the conference attendance grew significantly over last year’s event. Increasingly, organizations are coming to realize that the quality of data and its availability to make good business decisions is a critical aspect of business efficiencies and success.
So what’s the status of MDM and what were the client’s interested in discussing?
Some organizations are preparing for growth, yet many still face a tough economic climate: MDM remains relevant across all economics conditions. Users from the business and IT side have matured in their understanding of MDM and questions have shifted from definitional dialog toward more "how to" questions related to creating the strategy, governance of master data, organizing for governance, and developing the processes of governing master data.
In my presentations and one-on-one meetings I specifically dealt with 2 major topics which were on clients minds – metadata management and the design of master data information services in support of service-oriented architecture (SOA) and business process management (BPM) initiatives. Both require good communications and collaboration between IT and the other business units to be successful, since both have strong needs for business governance rules and understanding the potential uses of the master data services across business processes. Here’s some points I made in my discussions with clients:
1) MDM projects result in an inventory of master data which need to be managed. Metadata provides the answers to the “who, what, where, when, why, how” questions about the master data to promote understanding and facilitate its use. Simply stated, MDM initiatives are not sustainable without adequate metadata management. I discussed the various approaches to managing metadata ranging from leaving it in the disparate tools focused on different roles in the organization to federating and consolidating metadata across them – and the tradeoffs to each.
2) Once an organization adopts an SOA, information architecture and infrastructure management become increasingly more important, including methods and tools for data integration. The key form of implementation of master data in an SOA is through the use of shared "information services." Most MDM projects focus on “good master data” as a measurement of success. But in an SOA, having good data is not enough since the “lingua franca” for using the data will be through information services designed at the right level of granularity for optimized reuse by business analysts and developers and agility in response to changing processes. I addressed best practices in designing good information services through collaboration across MDM, SOA and BPM initiatives.
Gartner customers can obtain more details on these topics in the following research notes:
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