What the future holds for Master Data Management (MDM)

A great way to keep up to date with the latest developments in any domain is to attend specialized conferences or summits and data management makes no exception to the rule.

I’ve attended several Master Data Management conferences during the past few years and I can happily say that every time I managed to walk away learning something new and feeling intrigued by the issues and situations that were discussed as part of the formal presentations but mostly by those that seemed to escape the podium’s attention.

There are valuable insights to be gained from discussions with other participants, customers, or by talking with various analysts and of course the invaluable backroom and between-meeting conversations. I have often found that the most valuable learnings came from the discussions that occurred during and after the presentations.

What the future holds for Master Data Management

By doing a brief overview over the past years main topics of focus, I can say that there is one topic in particular that reflected a high degree of diversity of content in the remarks of analysts and the between presentations discussions as well, the future of Master Data Management (MDM).

Being broadly accepted and consistently referred in the industry and in the presentations as well the concept of multi-domain MDM stands out as the normal evolution path for the MDM. The multi-domain MDM is the concept that implies the implementation of a single Master Data Management hub platform that has to service and support the mastering of multiple subject areas within the enterprise.

The stringent needs of the present

While everybody tends to agree with the path to be followed in the future there are more stringent needs to be addressed in the present.

Before we will get to the point where we can address the need of a multi-domain MDM the companies need to focus on expanding MDM to address the obstacles that they are experiencing in managing and deploying the exploding breadth and volume of data that exists within their companies currently.

I spend a fair amount of my professional time meeting with customers to discuss their views on data strategy and data management. The details discussed between meetings at the most recent analysts reviews are fairly consistent with the customer discussions I’ve had over the past few months.

Based on the thorough analysis I’ve made here are some of the topics that in my opinion the future should hold for MDM functions and capabilities.

The companies will have to focus and address the following 2 major areas of the data landscape:


Moving towards central Metadata

Analysts, end-users, and developers are eager to get their hands on the metadata to help them understand the data’s origins, definitions, meanings, and rules.

The reasoning behind a centralized metadata is to facilitate access to a subject area master record along with the details of the contributing sources. A single centralized location for metadata content is what everybody currently wants.

Current MDM products contain those details for mastered elements but it makes a lot of sense to expand the MDM hub to support metadata services and to store, retain and share metadata for all of the elements associated with a particular business area.

The benefits of unified Data security

The implementation of user access security for individual applications and systems is in most of the times cumbersome and problematic. Centralized application and system access control have been always the solution for this issue but such a capability doesn’t exist for data, at least not yet.

Enterprises worldwide are using more than one DBMS, so rather than having every database and application rely upon their own data security method a centralized data level security stored within the MDM hub will be highly beneficial.

MDM hubs are already storing and retaining CRUD (create, read, update, delete) for their own purposes so there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to centralize all data security within the MDM hub.

Enterprise Data Services

Data provisioning platform

A new role for the MDM should emerge as a data provisioning platform. The hub already knows the various source systems where the subject area details reside so we should be able to position it to perform the retrieving of the data function as well.

An application that wants to retrieve all the descriptive details for a customer should be able to do so without knowing the database (or system) location and access details. The MDM hub already knows where the data is, so it should be its task to go, retrieve the data and deliver it to the requestor.

Enterprise Data Localization Services

Searching for data within the enterprise has always been a daunting task especially when you’re dealing with multiple systems and platforms and it’s well known as being the greatest consumer of time.

It’s common for developers and end users to spend about half of their time searching for the data they need to analyze or include in a new application even if there are implementations of data marts, reporting tools, data warehouses, and analytic systems in place.

Many of the existing MDM products on the market do a pretty decent job of providing details to the subject area master elements but fail to provide support for the other 90 percent of the elements contained across the company’s numerous operational and analytical systems.

The future should demand an evolution of MDM platform to be able to track and identify various locations of additional subject area details.

Evolution of Data Integration Services

The MDM products available today rely on web services as an interfacing/integration gate with other applications and services in the enterprise. In order to be able to make them production ready in most of the cases, the MDM hubs will need to feature a series of “lower level” services for data correction, value standardization, in order to address the full spectrum of functionality necessary for a production deployment.

The interfaces and interactions with and through this services should be positioned at an enterprise-level and transformed into and an enterprise-wide set of data services for all IT systems.

The future should get the MDM products to include the necessary tools and functions to integrate into a larger SOA and enterprise data services paradigm.

Going forward

There was definitely a lot of progress made on a world-wide scale in the management of data and information but there are still a lot to be done as well.

We are still scratching the tip of the iceberg in terms of advancement, predictability, acceptance and innovation and the sky is definitely not the limit this time.

Thank you for reading!

Until next time,

                           keep learning, keep searching and keep succeeding…

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