During my many years in customer master data quality improvement I have worked with a lot of clients having data from several countries. In almost every case the data has been prioritized in two pots:
- Master Data referring to domestic customers
- Master Data referring to foreign customers
Even though the enterprise defines itself as an international organization, the term domestic still in a lot of cases is easily assigned to the country where a headquarter is situated and where the organization was born.
Signs of this include:
- Data formats are designed to fit domestic customers
- Internal reference data are richer for domestic locations
- External reference data services are limited to domestic customers
The high prioritizing of domestic data is of course natural for historical reasons, because domestic customers almost certainly are the largest group, and because the rules are common to most delegates in a data quality program.
If we accept the fact that improving data quality will be reflected in an improved bottom line, there is still a margin you may improve by not stopping when having optimal procedures for domestic data.
One way of dealing with this in an easy way is to apply general formats, services and rules that may work for data from all over the world, and this approach may in some cases be the best considering costs and benefits.
But I have no doubt that achieving the best data quality with customer master data is done by exploiting the specific opportunities that exist for each country / culture.
- The completeness and depth for address (location) data available in each country is very different – so are the rules of the postal service’s operating there
- Public sector company and citizen registration practice also differs why the quality of external reference data is different and so are the rules of access to the data.
- Using local character sets, script systems, naming conventions and addressing formats besides (or instead of) what applies to that of the headquarter helps with data quality through real world alignment
My guess is that we will see services in cloud in the near future helping us making the global village also come true for master data quality.