Shell spin-off Kalido, Ventana Research, IBM and Knightsbridge Solutions co-hosted a webinar this month on the topical subject of master data management (MDM). According to Kalido CEO Mark Smith, information architectures have evolved into ‘unwieldy living organisms’ with data stored in applications, systems and external sources. For many organizations, the lack of reference data on customers, products and employees is an obstacle to a coherent IM strategy. Merger and acquisitions complicate the picture and data quality issues abound. Data is now generally recognized as a core asset, but there is a lack of quality tools and processes for its management.
Commercial companies (Kalido originated in Shell’s Oil Products unit) are faced with data governance challenges. In particular, when managing data across the ‘silos’ of CRM, ERP, Finance and HR, companies are faced with multiple versions of data much of which is wrong. This is where MDM comes in, to aid in ‘data governance’ across the company, centralizing reference content across applications such as Siebel, SAP, Oracle, Cognos and PeopleSoft. Kalido’s MDM layer is described as a data backplane or blueprint the enterprise.
Dan Gaines (Knightsbridge Solutions) believes that managing enterprise master data is too important to be left to IT or outsourced. ‘Managing the data assets needs to be done in house and by the business. Standards are key—for data resources and architectures. We need to identify the key processes for business owners and data stewards. We also need to measure data quality before we can improve it.’
Paula Wiles Sigmon (IBM) described IBM’s data governance council, which was established earlier this year. The council is to identify data challenge and their solutions in the fields of ETL, EAI and EII. Again, the target is the customer-product-supplier space. David Waddington (Ventana Research) emphasized the strategic importance of data governance. High level support is necessary to ensure that tough problems (like agreeing on data definitions) and resistance from those who think ‘it’ll delay my project work’ can be overcome.
Winston Chen (Kalido) outlined how Kalido’s MDM tools were helping Unilever, Shell and BP’s business people ‘collaboratively control and manage master data.’ A Kalido poll found MDM one of the hottest IT topics today. Companies are contemplating appointing a Chief Data Officer to head up the new ‘data governance’ discipline which now encompasses data management, data quality and integration. One challenge for would be users of B2B is to ‘get your own data house in order!’
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