Adding 180 Degrees to MDM

Master Data Management (MDM) has traditionally been about being better at utilizing and sharing internal registrations about our customers, suppliers, products, assets and other core business entities.

My latest work around master data management revolves around the concept of bringing in external data sources in order to make on-boarding processes more efficient and provide more accurate, complete and timely master data.

So, it was good to see that this approach is gaining more traction when attending the MDM Summit Europe 2013.

The old stuff

Andy Walker of BP presented how BP has built the management of party master data around aligning with the D&B WorldBase for business-to-business (B2B) customer and vendor master data.

Knowing about with which actual legal entities you are doing business and which external hierarchies they belong to is crucial for BP both in daily operations and when it comes to reporting and analysis utilizing party master data.

Using business directories isn’t new at all; it has been around for ages and from what I have seen: It works when you do it properly and consistently.

The new stuff

Big data was a hot topic on the conference. As reported in a post from the first day embracing big data may lead to Double Trouble with Social MDM and Big Data.

Steve Jones TweetHowever, digging into big data and doing social MDM may certainly also provide new opportunities as we by utilizing these new sources actually may be able to obtain (or closing in at) a 360 degree view on various master data entity types. It is, as said and tweeted by Steve Jones of Capgemini, about looking outside-in.

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Double Trouble with Social MDM and Big Data

Yesterday was the first day at the MDM Summit Europe 2013 in London.

One of the workshops I attended was called Master Data Governance for Cloud/Social MDM/Big Data. The workshop was lead by Malcolm Chisholm, one of my favorite thought leaders within data management.

According to Malcolm Chisholm, and I totally agree with that, the rise of social networks and big data will have a tremendous impact on future MDM (Master Data Management) architecture. We are not going to see that these new opportunities and challenges will replace the old way of doing MDM. Integration of social data and other big data will add new elements to the existing component landscape around MDM solutions.

Like it or not, things are going to be more complicated than before.

We will have some different technologies and methodologies handling the old systems of record and the new systems of engagement at the same time, for example relational databases (as we know it today) for master data and columnar databases for big data.

Profiling results from analysis of big data will be added to the current identity resolution centric master data elements handled in current master data solutions. Furthermore, there will be new interfaces for social collaboration around master data maintenance on top of the current interfaces.

So, the question is if taking on the double trouble is worth it. Doing nothing, in this case sticking to small data, is always a popular option. But will the organizations choosing that path exist in the next decade? – or will they be outsmarted by newcomers?

MDM Summit Europe 2013

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Making sense with Social MDM

A few days ago Jeff Jonas of IBM made a new blog post called Master Data Management (MDM) vs. Sensemaking.

iDQ microscopeHerein Jeff Jonas ponders the differences in the data matching algorithms we use in traditional MDM, predominately name and address matching, and the kind of identity resolution we need when we for example try to listen to and make sense of the signals in the social media data streams.

Jeff Jonas says: “Different missions, different tools.  Some organizations will use one or the other; most organizations will want both.”  

I tend to disagree slightly with Jeff Jonas. As told in the post The New Year in Identity Resolution I think we will need a connection between the old systems of record and the new systems of engagement.

Indeed the algorithms will be used differently and indeed we need different thresholds of confidence for different tasks. But I think we will have to make the integration story a bit more complicated in order to make sensible decisions across the two missions.

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instant Single Customer View

Achieving a Single Customer View (SCV) is a core driver for many data quality improvement and Master Data Management (MDM) implementations.

As most data quality practitioners will agree, the best way of securing data quality is getting it right the first time. The same is true about achieving a Single Customer View. Get it right the first time. Have an instant Single Customer View.

The cloud based solution I’m working with right now does this by:

  • Searching external big reference data sources with information about individuals, companies, locations and properties as well as social networks
  • Searching internal master data with information already known inside the enterprise
  • Inserting really new entities or updating current entities by picking  as much data as possible from external sources

instant Single Customer View

Some essential capabilities in doing this are:

  • Searching is error tolerant so you will find entities even if the spelling is different
  • The receiving data model is real world aligned. This includes:
    • Party information and location information have separate lives as explained in the post called A Place in Time
    • You may have multiple means of contact attached like many phones, email addresses and social identities

How do you achieve a Single Customer View?

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Connecting CRM and MDM with Social Network Profiles

As told on DataQualityPro recently in an interview post about the Benefits of Social MDM, doing social MDM (Master Data Management) may still be outside the radar of most MDM implementations. But there are plenty of things happening with connecting CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and social engagement.

While a lot of the talk is about the biggest social networks as FaceBook and LinkedIn, there are also things going around with more local social networks like the German alternative to LinkedIn called Xing.


Last week I followed a webinar by Dirk Steuernagel of MRM24. It was about connecting your contact data with Xing.

As said in the MRM24 blog post called Social CRM – Integration von Business Netzwerken in

“Our business contacts are usually found in various internal and external systems and on non-synchronized platforms. It requires a lot of effort and nerves to maintain all of our business contacts at the different locations and keep the relevant information up to date.”

(Translated to English by Google and me).


We see a lot of connectors between CRM systems and social networks.

In due time we will also see a lot of connectors between MDM and social networks, which is a natural consequence of the spread of social CRM. This trend was also strongly emphasized on the Gartner (the analyst firm) tweet chat today:

GartnerMDM chat and social MDM

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Social MDM and Matchback

business partnersIn a discussion in the Social MDM group on LinkedIn the following saying came up:

“Why did 85% of the 1700 CMOs interviewed say they use social media as a communications channel and yet only 14% of them measure the ROI?”

A traditional discipline in measuring ROI from a certain market activity is, as told in the post Matchback and Master Data Management, that you try to figure out from which activity a new (prospect) customer was triggered.

The problem is that the trigger may be in one channel but the customer shows up in another channel.

Measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) in doing social media communication and social CRM also requires matchback and in order to do this you will need social master data management where the old systems of records are linked to the new systems of engagement.

As the social business has some considerations not at least around privacy, the matchback activities may very well be done by adapting Hierarchy Management in Social MDM.

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Future Identities

Recently I stumbled upon a report called Future Identities in the UK. The purpose of the report is to provide the government in the UK insight into how identities of citizens will develop over the next 10 years. But the insight certainly also applies to how private companies will have to react to this development and certainly also not just in the UK.

The report talks about three different kinds of identities:

identies in the UK

Applied to data quality and master data management I think these future kinds of identities will have these consequences:

Biometric identities relates to hard core identity resolution as in fighting terrorism, crime investigation and physical access control but is sometimes even used in simple commercial checks as told in the post Real World Identity. My guess is that we will see biometrics used more as a mean to have better data quality, but not considerable more due to return of investment also as examined in the post Citizen ID and Biometrics.

Biographical identities and the related attributes resembles what we often also calls demographic attributes used in handling data for direct marketing and other purposes of data management. Direct marketing may, as reported in the post Psychographic Data Quality, be in transition to go deeper into big data in order to be psychographic marketing.

Social identities is the new black. As discussed on this blog, latest in the post Defining Social MDM, my guess is that social data master management is going to be big and has to be partly interwoven with using traditional biographical attributes and even, like it or not, biometric attributes. The art of doing that in a proper way is going to be very exciting.

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Defining Social MDM

Social MDM2Social Master Data Management (Social MDM) has been a recurring subject on this blog for a couple of years. But what is Social MDM? What do others say it is?

Here is what Techopedia, Gartner and The MDM Institute thinks:

Techopedia has this definition of Social MDM:

Definition – What does Social Master Data Management (Social MDM) mean?

Social master data management (Social MDM) refers to the processes, policies and concepts used to gather and compile social media data sources – like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – into one master file.

Gartner (the analyst firm) hasn’t to my knowledge used the term Social MDM. In 2011 they though said that this will be one of three main trends in MDM:

Increasing Links Between MDM and Social Networks

By 2015, 15 percent of organizations will have added social media data about their customers to the customer master data attributes they manage in their MDM systems….

In 2012, as reported in the post The Big MDM Trend, Gartner, The Hype Cycle firm, changed the point to be about MDM and Big Data.

The MDM Institute has a Field Report from April 2012 where Aaron Zornes (who is the MDM institute) writes:

Social MDM (Cloud-enablement, Architecture & Integration)

During 2012, cloud-enabled MDM will attract small- and mid-sized businesses as a means to engage in MDM without committing to long-term project and major expense….

By 2014-15, cloud-innate services for data quality and Data Governance will be more prevalent than full Social MDM…

So the MDM institute thinks Social MDM is MDM in the cloud.

What do you think?

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Four Reasons for Getting Social with MDM

Social Master Data Management (Social MDM) is about linking the increasing trend of doing business via social media using what we may call “systems of engagement” with the traditional way of supporting business using what we call “systems of record”.

Engaging Human Resources

Creating systems for sharing knowledge between employees within your organization and not at least sharing what knowledge exists among employees has been around for long. Such systems rely on a basic employee master data foundation typically based on core employee registries made for employee contract and payroll functionality.

In a modern organization human resource administration is affected by the way work and live today. Doing work may be done in many other ways than through a traditional employee contract and we are increasingly moving between branches in different countries with different payroll systems often leading to assigning the same individual a complete new identity as a human resource.

Managing employee and other human resource master data will have to embrace this reality in order to ensure effective use of the human resources available and making it possible for all your human resources to help with that will be a big help.

Social MDMFollowing Your Customer’s Digital Footprint

The growth of social networks during the recent years has been almost unbelievable. A lot of activity takes place within social networks and some of this activity relates to buying, recommending and using your products and services and your competitors’ products and services.

Your ability to follow your customer’s and prospective customer’s footprint in the social networks, and other big data sources, will, if not today, be a competitive advantage tomorrow.

You will make the most out of this if you are able to link your traditional collection of customer transactions with the footprints of the customer in the social world. That link will have to be made in a master data hub.

Supporting Complex Sales

Doing social MDM is as a natural consequence of adapting social CRM (Social Customer Relation Management). Many CRM systems are supporting B2B (Business-to Business) activities helping with keeping track of what’s going on with a lot of contacts related to a business account.

Traditional MDM has been much about a single view of the business account and the legal entity behind. As social CRM is much about the relations to the business contacts, the people side of business, we need a solid master data foundation behind the people being those contacts.

The same individual may in fact be an important influencer related to a range of business accounts being the legal entity with who you are aiming for a sales contract. You need a single view of that. So many sales contracts are based on a relation to a buyer moving from one business account to another. You need to be the winner in that game and the answer to that may very well be your ability to do better social MDM.

Sharing Product Data

Product master data are often reborn many times. This happens inside organizations and it happens in the ecosystem of business partners in supply chains encompassing manufactures, distributors, retailers and end users.

Inside an organization it may happen that the purchase function enters a product description fit for the purpose of handling procurement. But this description may not fit the purpose of appreciating and describing the product in the selling process if it’s a resell product or service or it doesn’t fit the engineering process if it’s a spare part or a tool.

As a supplier of products and services through selling channels you are interested in that your descriptions, images and stories around products and services are consistent and timely.

Optimizing Product Information Management (PIM) for multiple purposes requires sharing product data both inside the organization and with your suppliers and customers. In doing that you need that side of social MDM we may call social PIM.

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Addressing Digital Identity

A physical address has traditionally been a core element of doing identity resolution. Stating a name and an address is the most widespread way of telling with which person or which company we are (aiming at) having a business and other form of relationship.

However, during the last 25 years a lot of things have moved from the physical world to the online world. Not at least a lot of things start in the online world while in many cases ends up in the physical world. Today selling, the smart way, starts in social media. Final delivery may be digital or may be sending a package or a consultant to a physical address. A thing like dating most often starts in the online world today but surely the aim is a physical encounter.

This new way of life has a tremendous affect on data quality and master data management. Within quality of contact data, the most frequent domain for data quality issues, we have traditionally dealt with verifying names and addresses and deduplicating names and addresses.

As the best way of preventing data quality issues is looking at the root we must address that onboarding of contact data often starts with a digital identity where a physical address isn’t present in the first place but often will be updated at a later stage.

As described in the post Social MDM and Systems of Engagement a new trend in master data management is to establish a link between the new systems of engagement and the old systems of record.

In the same way data quality prevention and improvement will have to cover establishing a link between a new discipline being digital identity resolution and the good old address verification stuff.

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