Master Data meets the Customer

In the old days Master Data was predominately created, maintained and used by the staff in the organisation having these data. This is in many cases not the fact anymore. Besides exchanging data with partners in doing business, today the customer – and prospect – has become an important person to be considered when doing Data Governance and implementing technology around Master Data.

In the online world the customer works with your Master Data when:

  • The customer creates and maintains name, address and communication information by using registration functions
  • The customer searches for and reads product information on web shops and information sites

Having the prospects and customers helping with the name and address (party) data is apparently great news for lowering costs in the organisation. But in the long run you got yourself another silo with data and your Data Quality issues has become yet more challenging.

First thing to do is to optimise your registration forms. An important thing to consider here is that online is worldwide (unless you restrict your site to visitors from a single country). When doing business online with multi national customers then take care that the sequence, formats and labels are useful to everyone and that mandatory checks and other validations are in line with rules for the country in question.

External reference data may be used for lookup and validation integrated in the registration forms.

The concept of “one version of the truth” is a core element in most Master Data Management solutions. Doing deduplication within online registration have privacy considerations. When asking for personal data you can’t prompt “Possible duplicate found” and then present the data about someone else. Here you need more than one data quality firewall.

Many organisations are not just either offline or online but are operating in both worlds. To maintain the 360 degree view on customer in this situation you need strong data matching techniques capable of working with offline and online captured data. As the business case for online registration is very much about reducing staff involvement, this is about using technology and keeping human interaction to a minimum.

Search and navigationWhen a prospect comes to your site and tries to find information about your products, the first thing to do is very often using the search function. From deduplication of names and addresses we know that spelling is difficult and that sometimes we use other synonyms than used in the Master Data descriptions. Add to that the multi-cultural aspect. The solution here is that you use the same fuzzy search techniques that we use for data matching. This is a kind of reuse. I like that.

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