While working with some exciting strategic data management projects together with the data management consultancy firm parsionate, the quest of ensuring data quality in large companies is one of the key topics.
Your Success Factors
In their latest whitepaper parsionate has put data quality in context. The idea behind is this is that only when your data quality initiatives are connected with business goals they will be acknowledged and sustained in business operations.
Marketing departments today want to drive more sales through online channels. To do that you will need a bunch of data quality improvements like having convincing product descriptions for all products put on sale online and having consistent and updated prices across all channels.
In operative management you always strive for making better decisions. To be able to do that you need accurate, updated, and well-related information about markets, products, competitors.
In strategic management your aim is to exploit economies of scale. During mergers and acquisitions, managers must pay particular attention to data quality. In the case of mergers, it must be ensured that the data quality of the previously separate systems is impeccable so that weaknesses are not ported to the new overall situation.
For HR key objectives are to find the best candidates and develop potential. These processes are being digitalized with machine decisions involved. This can only work if the undelaying data is complete, updated and consistent.
For logistics the future belongs to the intelligent supply chain. In many cases the data needed to support this is available, however not in the right quality at the right time. Here, the right data quality management can make a huge difference.
The Right Steps to Drive Business Forward
Your roadmap to high data quality that will pave the way to successful business should involve the following 8 steps:
1: Appoint responsible persons for the data
2: Set targets and Key-Performance-Indicators
3: Evaluate data quality of existing data
4: Cleanse and harmonize data inventories
5: Define standards and processes
6: Automate data quality maintenance
7: Regulate data quality across divisions, groups and borders
8: Continuously improve data quality
To get more details on the range of success factors for the various business areas and the 8 step roadmap you can download a free copy of the parsionate Data Quality in Context guide here.
Over the recent months, I have been engaged with the boutique Master Data Management (MDM) consultancy parsionate on some visionary projects in the multi-domain MDM area.
The overall approach at parsionate is that MDM is much more than just an IT issue. It is a strategic necessity. This is based on an experience that I share, which is that if you treat MDM as an isolated technological problem, you will inevitably fail!
MDM implementations today are increasingly becoming enterprise wide and are thus also multi-domain meaning that they cover business partner domains as customer and supplier/vendor, the product domain and a longer tail of other core business entities that matters within the given business model.
The primary goal of a multi-domain MDM implementation is to unify and consolidate heterogeneous data silos across the enterprise. The more source systems are integrated, the more information will be available and the more your enterprise will beneﬁt from a 360° view of its data.
To achieve the desired goal for your multi-domain MDM program, you need to have a clear vision and a long-term strategic roadmap that shows how the various MDM implementation stages ﬁt together with other related initiatives within your enterprise and where the Return of Investment (ROI) is expected and how it can be measured.
Seven Phases of Forming the Roadmap
In the approach at parsionate there are seven phases to go through when forming the roadmap and launching an MDM program.
Phase 1: Identify business needs
Before embarking on an MDM program, consider what data is most important to your business and where you can create the most value by putting this data under the MDM umbrella.
The main rationale is that through MDM organizations can control the way their most important data is viewed and shared in a more eﬃcient, traceable way and thus improve their performance and productivity. An eﬀective MDM implementation helps you streamline your workﬂows. It breaks down data silos that prevent data from being reused and shared across the enterprise
Phase 2: Set up a data committee
Establishing a data committee (with any equivalent name for a data focussed body) is perhaps the most frequently mentioned aspect of an MDM strategy. This team would usually consist of many diﬀerent stakeholders who are in a position to enforce the roadmap and the underlaying activities.
This body must be able to convey the importance of data across the enterprise at all organizational levels. The main concern is to make data a top priority in the enterprise.
Phase 3: Set up a data governance program before deﬁning the MDM roadmap
Many organizations shy away from data governance programs that consulting ﬁrms suggest because they seem too complex and costly.
The bitter truth is though that if you fail to implement data governance or embed it strategically into the way the organization works, you will inevitably have to address it at a later stage – in a more time-consuming and costly process.
Phase 4: Set clear goals to ingrain the MDM vision in the organization’s culture
It is diﬃcult to promote an MDM program without a clear vision and objectives. At the executive level, the program could be misunderstood as a technological issue. Sometimes decision-makers struggle to understand the value an MDM program will generate. In this case, they will either not fund it or, if it does go ahead, consider it a failure because the result does not meet their expectations.
It is crucial to involve all relevant stakeholders in the roadmap development process at an early stage and engage with them to understand their expectations and requirements. Only then can you ensure that the core elements of a successful MDM program are aligned with the needs of your entire organization.
Phase 5: Choose a step-by-step approach and rapidly implement sub-projects
The most eﬀective way to implement an MDM program is to start with a few key sources and provide meaningful information in a very short time. It is always diﬃcult to implement everything at once (multiple sources, several integration points, and complex data) with a „big bang“ or build a data hub without a speciﬁc goal in mind.
If a pilot project quickly realizes a series of short-term beneﬁts, users and business leaders will appreciate the value of the MDM program. As soon as it becomes clear that the initial project is successful, you can promote a wider roadmap that shows how the next steps will be carried out in line with the strategic goals of your organization. With this iterative approach, the long-term beneﬁts will become clearer.
Phase 6: The mammoth task: Adopt a data-driven mindset
Building a data-driven corporate culture may be considered the supreme challenge of any MDM program. Data culture goes far beyond a simple corporate strategy that uses data for business processes. Rather, it is a mindset that encourages employees to appreciate the tremendous added value of high-quality data.
Many organizations believe they can simply buy new tools to drive digital transformation. That is an illusion.
Phase 7: Integrate technology
This illusion does however not mean that that MDM technology is not important.
Hardly any other IT system aﬀects as many diﬀerent departments and data domains in a company and is, implemented the right way, as powerful as an MDM solution. The extreme importance of this type of software within the entire corporate IT infrastructure means that you need to select a system very carefully and strategically.
The Full Guide If you want to read the full guide to MDM mapping out the high road to a successful implementation you can download it from this parsionate site: Master Data Management
Master Data Management (MDM) and the overlapping Product Information Management (PIM) discipline is the centre of which the end-to-end data supply chain revolves around in your enterprise.
The main processes are:
Onboard Customer Data
It starts and ends with the King: The Customer. Your organization will probably have several touchpoints where customer data is captured. MDM was born out of the Customer Data Integration (CDI) discipline and a main reason of being for MDM is still to be a place where all customer data is gathered as exemplified in the post Direct Customers and Indirect Customers.
Onboard Vendor Data
Every organization has vendors/suppliers who delivers direct and indirect products as office supplies, Maintenance, Repair and Operation (MRO) parts, raw materials, packing materials, resell products and services as well. As told in a post on this blog, you have to Know Your Supplier.
Enrich Party Data
There are good options for not having to collect all data about your customers and vendors yourself, as there are 3rd party sources available for enriching these data preferable as close to capture as possible. This topic was examined in the post Third-Party Data and MDM.
Onboard Product Data
While a small portion of product data for a small portion of product groups can be obtained via product data pools, the predominant way is to have product data coming in as second party data from each vendor/supplier. This process is elaborated in the post 4 Supplier Product Data Onboarding Scenarios.
Transform Product Data
As your organization probably do not use the same standard, taxonomy, and structure for product data as all your suppliers, you have to transform the data into your standard, taxonomy, and structure. You may do the onboarding and transformation in one go as pondered in the post The Role of Product Data Syndication in Interenterprise MDM.
Consolidate Product Data
If your organization produce products or you combine external and internal products and services in other ways you must consolidate the data describing your finished products and services.
Enrich Product Data
Besides the hard facts about the products and services you sell you must also apply competitive descriptions of the products and services that makes you stand out from the crowd and ensure that the customer will buy from you when looking for products and services for a given purpose of use.
Customize Product Data
Product data will optimally have to be tailored for a given geography, market and/or channel. This includes language and culture considerations and adhering to relevant regulations.
Personalize Product Data
Personalization is one step deeper than market and channel customization. Here you at point-of-sale seek to deliver the right Customer Experience (CX) by exercising Product eXperience Management (PXM). Here you combine customer data and product data. This quest was touched in the post What is Contextual MDM?
Most presentations of Master Data Management (MDM) solutions revolve around the scenario of having multiple data stores holding customer master data and the needed capabilities of federation and deduplication in the quest for getting a 360 degree of customers.
Another common scenario is the Product Information Management (PIM) theme, where the quest is to get a 360 degree of the products that is sold to the customers.
However, in for example the manufacturing sector there is a frequent and complex scenario around governing product master data before the products become sellable to customers.
In that scenario we usually use the term material as an alternative to product and we use the term parts for the products bought from suppliers as either components of a finished product, as materials used in Maintenance, Repair and Operation (MRO) and as other supplies.
MDM Capabilities for Material and Parts Data
Some of the key MDM capabilities needed in the material and parts data scenario are:
Auto-generated material descriptions which helps with identification and distinction between materials which leads to better utilization of the inventory. This capability can by the way also be used by merchants in reselling PIM scenarios as pondered in the post What’s in a Product Name?.
Advanced mass maintenance of material attributes which leads to improved accuracy and consistency and thereby better operational efficiency. Again, this capability is also useful in other MDM scenarios.
User friendly maintenance of complex material relationship structures as for example Bill of Material (BOM). This leads to less scrap and rework and improved compliance reporting. This capability can successfully be extended to other internally defined relationship structures in PIM and MDM.
Workflow Management and Data Governance
Handling material and parts master data is collaboration intensive with many business units involved as for example:
Supply Chain / Logistics
Research & Development
This means that operational efficiency can only be obtained through cross business unit workflows tailored to the data requirements and compliance obligations held by each business unit.
With the degree of enterprise data sharing needed this must be encompassed by data governance framework elements as:
Roles and responsibilities for data
Data policies and data standards according to business rules
Data quality measurement
A commonly shared business glossary
Solution Example: Master Data Online (MDO)
In my experience MDM of material and parts data is often done utilizing the ERP application with the shortcomings around data overview, workflow management and data governance that entail.
The Master Data Online (MDO) solution was born around material and parts master data which is an refreshing exception from the many MDM solutions that were born either from the Customer Data Integration (CDI) solution branch or the Product Information Management (PIM) branch.
During the end of last century data quality management started to gain traction as organizations realized that the many different applications and related data stores in operation needed some form of hygiene. Data cleansing and data matching (aka deduplication) tools were introduced.
In the 00’s Master Data Management (MDM) arised as a discipline encompassing the required processes and the technology platforms you need to have to ensure a sustainable level of data quality in the master data used across many applications and data stores. The first MDM implementations were focused on a single master data domain – typically customer or product. Then multidomain MDM (embracing customer and other party master data, location, product and assets) has become mainstream and we see multienterprise MDM in the horizon, where master data will be shared in business ecosystems.
MDM also have some side disciplines as Product Information Management (PIM), Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Reference Data Management (RDM). Sharing of product information and related digital assets in business ecosystems is here supported by Product Data Syndication.
Lately data governance has become a household term. We see multiple varying data governance frameworks addressing data stewardship, data policies, standards and business glossaries. In my eyes data governance and data governance frameworks is very much about adding the people side to the processes and technology we have matured in MDM and Data Quality Management (DQM). And we need to combine those themes, because It is not all about People or Processes or Technology. It is about unifying all this.
In my daily work I help both tool providers and end user organisations with all this as shown on the page Popular Offerings.
One of the bottlenecks in Product Information Management (PIM) is getting product data ready for presentation to the buying audience as fast as possible.
Product data travels a long way from the origin at the manufacturing company, perhaps through distributors and wholesalers to the merchant or marketplace. In that journey the data undergo transformation (and translation) from the state it has at the producing organization to the state chosen by the selling organization.
However, time to market is crucial. This applies to when a new product range is chosen by the merchant or when there are changes and improvements at the manufacturer.
At Product Data Lake we enable a much faster pace in these quests than when doing this by using emails, spreadsheets and passive portals.
Data matching is a sub discipline within data quality management. Data matching is about establishing a link between data elements and entities, that does not have the same value, but are referring to the same real-world construct.
The most common scenario for data matching is deduplication of customer data records held across an enterprise. In this case we often see a gap between what we technically try to do and the desired business outcome from deduplication. In my experience, this misalignment has something to do with real-world alignment.
What we technically do is basically to find a similarity between data records that typically has been pre-processed with some form of standardization. This is often not enough.
Standardization and verification of addresses is very common element in data quality / data matching tools. Often such at tool will use a service either from its same brand or a third-party service. Unfortunately, no single service is often enough. This is because:
Most services are biased towards a certain geography. They may for example be quite good for addresses in The United States but very poor compared to local services for other geographies. This is especially true for geographies with multiple languages in play as exemplified in the post The Art in Data Matching.
There is much more to an address than the postal format. In deduplication it is for example useful to know if the address is a single-family house or a high-rise building, a nursing home, a campus or other building with lots of units.
In summary, the capability to tell if two data records represent the same real-world entity will eventually involve identity resolution. And as this is very poorly supported by data quality tools around, we see that a lot of manual work will be involved if the business processes that relies on the data matching cannot tolerate too may, or in some cases any, false positives – or false negatives.
Even telling that a true positive match is true in all circumstances is hard. The predominant examples of this challenge are:
Is a match between what seems to be an individual person and what seems to be the household where the person lives a true match?
Is a match between what seems to be a person in a private role and what seems to be the same person in a business role a true match? This is especially tricky with sole proprietors working from home like farmers, dentists, free lance consultants and more.
Is a match between two sister companies on the same address a true match? Or two departments within the same company?
We often realize that the answer to the questions are different depending on the business processes where the result of the data matching will be used.
The solution is not simple. The data matching functionality must, if we want automated and broadly usable results, be quite sophisticated in order to take advantage of what is available in the real-world. The data model where we hold the result of the data matching must be quite complex if we want to reflect the real-world.
When discussing with peers and interested parties about Product Data Lake, some of the alternatives are often brought up. These are EDI and GDSN.
So, what is the difference between those services and Product Data Lake.
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the concept of businesses electronically communicating information that was traditionally communicated on paper, such as purchase orders and invoices. EDI also has a product catalog functionality encompassing:
Seller name and contact information
Terms of sale information, including discounts available
Item identification and description
Item physical details including type of packaging
Item pricing information including quantity and unit of measure
The Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) is an internet-based, interconnected network of interoperable data pools and a global registry known as the GS1 Global Registry, that enables companies around the globe to exchange standardised and synchronised supply chain data with their trading partners using a standardised Global Product Classification (GPC).
This service focuses on retail, healthcare, food-service and transport / logistics. In some geographies GS1 is also targeting DIY – do it yourself building materials and tools for consumers.
Product Data Lake is a cloud service for sharing product information (product data syndication) in the business ecosystems of manufacturers, distributors / wholesalers, merchants, marketplaces and large end users of product information.
Our vision is that Product Data Lake will be the process driven key service for exchanging any sort of product information within business ecosystems all over the world, with the aim of optimally assist self-service purchase – both B2C and B2B – of every kind of product.
In that way, Product Data Lake is the long tail of product data synchronization supplementing EDI and GDSN for a long range of product groups, product attributes, digital assets, product relationships and product classification systems:
Building materials is a very diverse product group. As a wholesaler or dealer, you will have to manage many different attributes and digital assets depending on which product classification we are talking about.
Getting these data from a diverse crowd of suppliers is a hard job. You may have a spreadsheet for each product group where you require data from your suppliers, but this means a lot of follow up and work in putting the data into your system. You may have a supplier portal, but suppliers are probably reluctant to use it, because they cannot deal with hundreds of different supplier portals from you and all the other wholesalers and dealers possibly across many countries. In the same way that you are not happy about if you must fetch data from hundreds of different customer portals provided by manufacturers and other brand owners.
This also means that even if you can handle the logistics, you must limit your regular assortment of products and therefore often deal with special ad hoc products when they are needed to form a complete range of products asked for by your customers for a given building project. Handling of “specials” is a huge burden and the data gathering must usually be repeated if the product turns up again.
At Product Data Lake we have developed a solution to these challenges. It is a cloud service where your suppliers can provide product information in their way and you can pull the information in the way that fits your taxonomy, structure and format.
There are three kinds of data monetization: Selling data, wrapping data around products and utilizing advanced analytics leading to fast operational decision making. These options were examined in the post Three Flavors of Data Monetization.
If we look at the middle option, wrapping data around products, and narrow it down to wrapping data around tangible products, there are some ways to execute that for supply change delegates, not at least if the participating business entities embraces the business ecosystem where goods are moved through:
Manufacturers need to streamline the handling of product information internally. This includes disciplines as PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) and PIM (Product Information Management). On top of that, manufacturers need to be effective in the way the product information is forwarded to direct customers and distributors/wholesalers and merchants as exemplified in the post How Manufacturers of Building Materials Can Improve Product Information Efficiency.
Merchants need to utilize the best way of getting data into inhouse PIM (Product Information Management) solutions or other kind of solutions where data flows in from trading partners. Many merchants have a huge variety in product information needs as told in the post Work Clothes versus Fashion: A Product Information Perspective. On top of that a merchant will have supplying manufacturers and distributors with varying formats and capabilities to offer product information as discussed in the post PIM Supplier Portals: Are They Good or Bad?.