IDMP: Is it a Cloud or a Big Data Project?

“If it is not cloud or big data, the execs don’t want to hear about it”.

Cloud or a Big Data

This was stated at the Informatica, HighPoint Solutions and Parexel IDMP round table held in London in May (Informatica’s 3rd round table on this topic).  I have heard similar comments before.  Judging by the nodding heads around the table, there are many people battling to get funding for an IDMP project in the face of two large IT trends:  Cloud and Big Data.

It is not surprising that execs have a focus on these topics.  They promise to deliver a lot of value to the enterprise, by reducing IT cost, or harnessing value from large volumes of data respectively.  For individual projects which do not carry one of the crucial buzz words in their title, this can be highly frustrating.  On the surface it appears those owning the budget would risk non-compliance (in the case of IDMP) while chasing the promise of hot technologies and hot topics. However, the budget holders and executives may have a point.  Without focus, it would be near impossible to get large organisations aligned and moving in the same direction.

If the opening quote is something that you are facing in your own organisation, perhaps it is time to review how your proposed IDMP solution fits into the corporate IT strategies.  A Master Data Management (MDM) based approach to IDMP will build a single, trusted source of a broad range of product data.  The availability of this great product master data is highly complementary to both Cloud and Big Data, and this should be highlighted in an IDMP project proposal.


Organisations are deploying cloud solution for a number of reasons.  Cost reduction, up to date applications and flexibility to select relevant applications are top of the list.  Challenges in deployment include connecting and relating data between cloud and on-premise systems.  One of the key capabilities of a MDM system is the ability to co-ordinate and link master data across systems regardless of where they reside.  MDM is also frequently used during application migration, to ensure only high quality master data is migrated to new systems.  Considerations for positioning your MDM-based IDMP solution as a part of a cloud strategy:

  • Can you select a partner to host the solution in the cloud, in line with corporate strategy?
  • Are the cloud teams struggling with sourcing clean product master data?
  • How does data flow across cloud and on-premise applications to support business processes?
  • What role does master data clean-up play as you migrate to cloud applications?

Big Data

There are an increasing number of organisations actively investing in big data projects.  However, a disappointing number of big data projects are not being operationalised.  Reasons behind limited deployment can be interpreted in a number of ways, but ultimately these projects will be held to the same requirements as all other IT projects:  There must be a measurable ROI.  In order to have a return, the big data analysis must feed back into business processes – adjusting the processes based on the guidance of the data and hence producing an improvement in a KPI.

Unlike many industries, who are looking to sales, marketing and monetising of data for initial returns, pharmaceutical companies may be more inclined to focus on R&D, which produces a huge volume and variety of data.  If this is the case, big data projects will focus on substances and products.  The ability to relate all data for the same product and substance, regardless of data source, is crucial for meaningful analysis that will create a positive ROI.  Now consider the purpose and scope of IDMP:  to create a single, trusted view (and global identifier) of product data drawn from multiple pharmaceutical business processes (and IT systems).  IDMP can play a crucial role by enabling all data to be attributed to the same product/substance for big data projects with a measurable ROI.

Considerations for positioning your MDM-based IDMP solution as a part of a big data strategy:

  • What are the focus areas for your big data projects?
  • Do these projects have a common identifier for products or substances across all data sources?
  • How will the analysis performed be linked into business processes for measurable ROI?

Securing the funding for an IDMP project

When resources are limited, it is often the project with the best internal marketing that will win the funding.  That means that the project must appeal to the budget holders – who in many cases may be looking for a couple of key words in the project title or summary.  The major benefit of a MDM-based approach to IDMP is that you can turn a regulatory requirement into a foundational layer of product master data supporting many initiatives such as Cloud and Big Data.

The marketing message will be different for each company as corporate cultures, focus areas, strengths and weaknesses all vary.  IDMP projects I have seen make the most progress have positioned themselves in the context of key corporate initiatives.  Building an appealing IDMP project funding request should include considerations such as:

  • What role can/will it play as part of key initiatives or strategies (Cloud, Big Data)?
  • How does it support corporate goals? (e.g. IT cost reduction – MDM plays a big role here too)
  • Can you identify which of your processes will benefit from the single trusted view of product data IDMP will create?
  • Are you able to assign a value to providing clean data to these processes?

In summary, IDMP is not necessarily a cloud or a big data project.  However it is highly compatible with these initiatives should a MDM-based approach to IDMP be selected.  The message that needs to get through to the execs with sharp focus on Cloud and Big Data (or other initiatives) is how complying to IDMP can actively support their initiatives.