The way businesses view their data is changing all the time. Today, they increasingly see it as an asset which they can use to help meet business goals rather than a difficult-to-manage resource. Yet, while the majority of organisations appreciate that their data has potential business value, tapping into that value remains a significant challenge for most.

Even those companies that analyse their data do not always know if that analysis is accurate. They typically have many different types of data and often the systems they have work in isolation or are not properly connected to other systems within the organisation. They need accurate answers from their data especially if they are using it as the basis of strategic business decisions but how can they be confident in their data? And how can they rely on the answers it is giving them?  

Today, they are finding these answers thanks to the advent of master data management (MDM).

MDM programmes can deliver what is known as a “single version of the truth”. This is effectively a single representation of core business data that is comprehensive and consistent across the enterprise and which can be used to drive improved business process efficiency, well-informed and accurate business decision-making and enhanced business agility. In particular, organisations can use this capability to help them achieve a range of tactical goals - for example, to integrate complex customer data from disparate sources to deliver more accurate and consistent customer insight. Equipped with a holistic view of their customers, organisations have a greater ability to optimise revenue or decrease churn.

In addition, they can employ MDM to provide a single reference platform for business intelligence applications giving business decision-makers a clearer understanding of their operations.

They can also use it to create a shared master reference data store, which the business can use to provide advanced reporting and dashboarding capabilities and deliver proactive data quality to ensure their data complies with their organisational standards. The ability to share also allows departments to collaborate and make real-time usage of the data confident in the knowledge that it is accurate.

Organisations may also wish to employ MDM to implement new processes and workflows - ways in which people can manage their data, or use the approach to evolve a company-wide data governance strategy. MDM can have a key role to play in streamlining processes and accelerating systems rationalisation projects after mergers and acquisitions, for example.

MDM can additionally be used to optimise the costs and effort required to manage compliance by providing reliable control of master data, such as data on everything from customers to employees and business transactions.

Critically, knowing that everyone is making decisions across the business on the same set of analysis, ensures consistency and the approach enables organisations both to make sense of their data and to harness it to drive business strategy. Integrating data from multiple sources and then managing it efficiently allows them to develop an accurate ‘big picture’ of their business and use the understanding gained to make better decisions.

While this has benefits even when carried out just by a single department or business unit to accomplish tactical initiatives, it can help achieve lasting value for the business when the approach is used to drive core strategic objectives - whether around cutting costs, delivering operational efficiencies or building market share.

To do this effectively, organisations need to tap into the business value that MDM can give them.

Typically, this can be summarised under two broad headings. First, by delivering a single view of the truth, MDM gives them the information they need to make accurate, well-informed decisions that help drive business strategy. Second, the tight integration of systems and processes helps them deliver enhanced performance efficiencies that make this strategy easier to achieve.   

Together, these capabilities allow companies to obtain a consistent vision of data across many systems.

Being able to produce an accurate representation of the data for analysis may also allow them to identify areas of inefficiency across the organisation, potentially leading to a series of tactical activities like those outlined above that will contribute to strategic objectives around improving performance. Once identified, they can use their MDM capability to help achieve this core business goal.

Reaping the Rewards

MDM helps obtain value from information assets. Organisations need to use this to advance their corporate objectives. Businesses that have control of their data and can bring together disparate information across the enterprise and turn it into a single version of the truth will have greater confidence in the decisions they take, using data to accomplish those broader goals - from improving customer loyalty, to driving sales while reducing marketing costs.

Implementing an MDM-driven business approach can be transformative for any organisation. Increasingly, companies are realising data can be harnessed to revolutionise their business strategy and drive future success.

Yves de Montcheuil (@ydemontcheuil) is VP of Marketing at Talend