There are those who look at the emerging world of cloud computing as a trend to efficiency. It gives them the ability to leverage resources using much more cost effective models, where those resources are provisioned and shared amongst many consumers.
However, in the quest for efficiency, we often overlook the functionality of “the cloud.” Or, the usefulness of placing core features in a centralized location, which thus provides better control and governance, as well as efficiency. This leads to the placement of core enterprise data management services in the cloud, such as Master Data Management, or MDM.
Cloud-based MDM is a multitenant service that’s able to reach out from the cloud to manage any number of instances of enterprise data. Features you should look for include:
- The ability to improve customer data using data standardization mechanisms, as well as address and e-mail validation to ensure that the data is in the best and most accurate state possible. Moreover, you can leverage other clouds to augment the data, such as providers that provide financial and news data that may be valuable in the context of existing business data.
- Duplicate data management, such as culling through years of customer information to consolidate the data. This creates a single version of the truth for who a customer is, something that most enterprises have yet to accomplish. Moreover, this provides the ability to spot and deal with duplicate data before it’s entered into the core enterprise application, such as salesforce.com.
- The ability to integrate critical enterprise data, and thus provide a complete view of the data (such as customer data) by integrating related data such as billing information or support calls, perhaps from other data that exists in the cloud. Also, the ability to view account hierarchies which provides a consolidated view of each piece of data, such as customer information, as well as a view of all related data, either inside our outside of the MDM cloud.
However, the larger benefit of leveraging a cloud-based MDM system is the value of centralization. Considering that MDM is a team sport, the ability for the core MDM system to integrate with, as well as manage, highly distributed data is where this model will shine the brightest.
Behind the core MDM capabilities listed above, you’ll also have the ability to centralize, and thus provide better governance and control over highly distributed and poorly designed instances of data. Hosting this technology in the cloud, leveraging a system that supports multitenancy as well as self-provisioning, means that accessing MDM services from a single or multiple enterprises is much easier and it scales.
Finally, centralization of third party services (such as address verification or financial data sources) becomes easier from a cloud-based MDM solution. These services will become more important to the maintenance of the data going forward, validating the data in some instances, and augmenting the data in others.
Cloud delivered MDM is here to stay. The technology has always been valuable, but when leverage using a cloud-delivered model, the technology becomes more than compelling. I suspect that this will drive more MDM adoptions, and better data as a result.