Master Data Management

Etien van Loggerenberg (South Africa) - Master Data Management

What separates successful South African businesses from ones less so regarding their Master Data Management?

Identification and Quantification of Business Loss/Gain. South African business very often dives headlong into an MDM initiative without a proper valuation of the business need before-hand. This results in a poorly defined business case for the MDM initiative or one that is very difficult to substantiate from a spend point of view. The successful MDM initiatives have been supported by a clearly defined area of business benefit that has been quantified by means of data profiling and analysis to determine how much money the business is losing by not having the "golden record" or what the opportunity cost in terms of lost business opportunities, poorly negotiated supplier discounts and inaccurate data regarding cross- and up-sell opportunities within the business.

Data Driven versus System Driven Enterprise. Many businesses are still falling into the trap of being system driven as opposed to being data driven enterprises. What this means is that businesses are operating on a "break-fix" approach. This approach means that decisions are made to repair seemingly isolated informational problems or challenges within the business without consideration of issues such as information stake-holders, data quality, data authoring, data stewardship and data governance.

By contrast, the data driven enterprises in South Africa have a culture of data governance and supporting policies in force, which regulate matters such as how various records (customer, supplier, partner etc) are created within the enterprise, how these records are governed from a quality and life-cycle point of view, which elements of information pertinent to each type of record comprise the "golden record" as well as how both IT and business collaborate on the management of the master data.

Business and IT Collaboration. Another area that faces many South African business with regard to MDM, is the maturity of the relationship between business and IT within the enterprise. For many enterprises, IT is perceived as merely being the provider of technology to the business, rather than being an integral contributor to providing solutions to business needs that have a direct bearing on businesses metrics such as profitability, customer retention, competitive differentiation etc. as well as being measured against these metrics.

On the other hand, many IT departments still perceive business as a necessary evil to get the cheques signed for technology purchases. The disconnect is obvious.
Enterprises with successful MDM implementations have a very close collaboration between business and IT, where the two teams work closely on defining business rules, process and work flows, system and business rules that are required to run a successful MDM practice.

A successful MDM implementation relies on the successful marriage of the tried-and-tested "people, processes and technology". MDM also requires a culture of data governance, business-IT collaboration and a philosophy of incremental improvement. By adopting these qualities, more South African enterprises will be able to move their MDM initiatives from Utopia to a Business Practice.


Etien van Loggerenberg is Product Manager at Informatica South Africa



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