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On Beer, Data And Getting Lean

A few months ago at the Gartner MDM Summit, I met the head of information management at MillerCoors. He recalled the challenges he faced in explaining to executives of America’s second-largest beer company why it needed master data management.

He came up with a pitch-perfect analogy.

“We make two things—beer and data,” he told executives. “We need to manage our product supply chain and our information supply chain equally efficiently.”

I love that quote because it underscores a truth in all industries—every business is an information business. Whether you make beer or diapers, automobiles or annuities, seamless integration of all information flowing through a company is key to meeting customer needs and gaining competitive advantage.

His anecdote called to mind an excellent new book, Lean Integration, (Download Chapter 1) by two of our executives, John Schmidt and David Lyle, which CIO Magazine listed as their top pick in, “What We’re Reading.” Derived from lean principles in manufacturing, Lean Integration introduces a factory-like approach to data management that emphasizes:

  • Eliminating waste
  • Increasing value for end-user customers
  • Driving continuous improvement

Unfortunately, efficient management of the information supply chain is still on the horizon for many organizations. As Schmidt and Lyle point out, the absence of a standard platform and integration strategy invariably results in an integration hairball. To borrow from the book:

“The hairball is characterized by an overly complex collection of dependencies between application components that is hard to maintain, expensive to maintain, and unpredictable in operation.”

No enterprise hairball can ever deliver the comprehensive, reliable, and timely information that businesses need to excel. MillerCoors addressed issues in both its product and information supply chains with MDM, which, as Lean Integration notes, fits in perfectly with lean principles in information management and its key benefits—efficiency, agility, data quality and innovation in a strategic governance framework.

Ultimately, business data should be like good beer—crisp and refreshing, not stale and hard to swallow. Check out Chapter 1 of Lean Integration.

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