8 Best Practices for Cloud Master Data Management

Cloud computing has gained a lot of attention in the last decade since Amazon Web Services (AWS) first launched in 2006. Amazon has been the undisputed leader in the fundamental shift in the delivery of products and services to end customers ever since, but its dominance is now being challenged by an aggressive push by both Microsoft and Google cloud computing platforms. 

I speak with leaders in many organizations, and each one has a strategy that is unique to their journey to the cloud. And oftentimes, their choice of cloud providers is different. However, from a master data management (MDM) standpoint, the number of options that companies want isn’t any different. While an organization may need the agility, nimbleness, and cost benefits of the cloud, they also measure the maturity of the solution from capability and data security standpoint. 

Many fully cloud-based MDM solutions may meet the business demands for speed and flexibility, but lack tested, enterprise-class functionality and scale because these solutions are new to the market. This lack of trust can be of particular concern if you need to comply with regulations that demand robust protections for sensitive data.

In this blog, I explore eight areas every organization needs to pay close attention to as they prepare to embrace a cloud-based master data management solution. 

1. Don’t Compromise on Completeness

Because of the immaturity of many cloud MDM solutions today, businesses often find themselves having to create a complete MDM solution using tools from multiple vendors. A comprehensive cloud-based solution will make you more efficient because all the capabilities are available in one place. This packaging means that now you can focus on deriving business value from MDM. Check to make sure your cloud solution combines data catalog, data integration, data quality, data enrichment, and business process management into a single offering. Many companies—like TELUS, Wolters Kluwer, and Coca-Cola—are leveraging an end-to-end MDM solution on the cloud to ensure they are successful.

2. Data Security Should Not Be an Afterthought

MDM manages the information about your customers, citizens, patients, providers, employees, and many other types of third-party data (including B2B parties). These domains frequently include name, address, phone numbers, email address, contact preferences, etc. MDM may also store sensitive customer information, such as Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, account numbers, and other personally identifiable information (PII). It can be frightening to manage this data if you do not have appropriate data security controls in place. Your cloud MDM strategy must include a focus on master data security for both data in motion and data at rest. I discussed three master data security aspects that companies must consider in a recent blog

3. Be Modular and Take a Phased Approach

Organizations rarely move to a full end-to-end MDM implementation all at once. The best practice for implementation is to follow a phased approach, starting with more straightforward use cases and working up to complex and powerful cases. Your cloud-based MDM solution should support all of these phases so that you can move through each stage seamlessly. Your requirements continuously change, and you need the flexibility to enhance your solution without having to replace MDM. Your cloud MDM solution should allow you to start small, with “low-hanging fruit” projects that are easy to implement and offer quick, visible wins. Once you realize value, it should provide the flexibility you need to scale. This way, you can use the same solution to roll out new business initiatives for your company.

4. Think Hybrid

Hybrid clouds are growing in popularity because they allow organizations to reap the cost benefits of a public cloud infrastructure while giving greater options for customization and privacy/security via a private cloud. In this way, hybrid clouds offer the best of both worlds. When there are low latency requirements or privacy and compliance requirements that make a public cloud a poor choice, the hybrid is a critical choice. A hybrid MDM strategy allows you to deploy the application quickly, scale it smoothly, and keep sensitive data secure and private. It also helps make master data easily accessible for both real-time analytical applications such as data warehouse and data lakes. 

5. Focus on Future Roadmap

Your MDM requirements will evolve continuously as your business demands change, and your stakeholders ask more from you. I talk to many organizations who solve the most pressing challenges around customer data first. About 70 percent of our customers took B2B and B2C customer data as a primary area of focus. But as they proved value from MDM, they are moving on to address complex use cases around product data, supplier data, location, employees, and more. Schlumberger, one of our customers in the oil and gas industry, uses MDM to master more than 25 domains.

6. Data Governance and Stewardship

Master data management must enable you to define and enforce policies and procedures regarding activities such as data collection, quality, protection, access, use, and retention. Without governance and stewardship, MDM reduces business value and increases business risk. Governance and stewardship are areas that immature cloud solutions often overlook. Your cloud-based MDM should include ownership and accountability, consent management, privacy and protection, embedded controls, monitoring and analysis, and audit and reporting. 

7. AI and Machine Learning

AI and machine learning (ML) are the data-hungry processes that are changing the industry. They need vast amounts of data to run and deliver meaningful insights. A modern cloud-based MDM has to apply AI and ML to automate data stewardship processes as well as provide actionable insights to business users. As data volumes continue to grow, your cloud MDM has to leverage AI and ML techniques to make your data management process more convenient. 

8. Modern Architecture

To provide the agility and flexibility that modern organizations require, the cloud-based MDM solution must reside on modern architecture. There are several characteristics that modern MDM should support. The solution needs to be portable so you can move from one infrastructure provider to another. You need an architecture that supports microservices that enables you to update and enhance your solution continuously. You need to be able to plug in new microservices without the need for a significant upgrade. The solution should be scalable, especially in terms of data size, data sources, and end users. 

Modern Solutions Mean You Don’t Have to Choose

Today, when it comes to MDM, you no longer need to choose between having robust capabilities and moving to the cloud: you can now have both. You can now get a modern solution that delivers agility, scale, and cost benefits of a cloud implementation. The right solution also brings the comprehensive and robust MDM capabilities of an on-premises solution. To learn more, read this eBook. Reach out to me at @MDMGeek if you have a question. I would love to hear from you. 


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