Undertaking in MDM

Pluto's moon CharonIn the post Last Time Right the bad consequences of not handling that one of your customers aren’t among us anymore was touched.

This sad event is a major trigger in party master data lifecycle management like The Relocation Event I described last week.

In the data quality realm handling so called deceased data has been much about suppression services in direct marketing. But as we develop more advanced master data services handling the many aspects of the deceased event turns up as an important capability.

Like with relocation you may learn about the sad event in several ways:

  • A message from relatives
  • Subscription to external reference data services, which will be different from country to country
  • Investigation upon returned mail via postal services

Apart from in Business-to-Consumer (B2C) activities the deceased event also has relevance in Business-to-Business (B2B) where we may call it the dissolved event.

One benefit of having a central master data management functionality is that every party role and related business processes can be notified about the status which may trigger a workflow.

An area where I have worked with handling this situation was in public transit where subscription services for public transport is cancelled when learning about a decease thus lifting some burden on relatives and also avoiding processes for paying back money in this situation.

Right now I’m working with data stewardship functionality in the instant Data Quality MDM Edition where the relocation event, the deceased event and other important events in party master data lifecycle management must be supported by functionality embracing external reference data and internal master data.

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Time To Turn Your Customer Master Data Management Social?

The title of a post on the Nimble blog has this question: Time To Turn Your Sales Team Social?´ The post has a lot of evidence on why sales teams that embrace social selling are doing better than teams that doesn’t do that.

We do see new applications supporting social selling where Nimble is one example from the Customer Relationship  Management (CRM) sphere as explored in the post Sharing Social Master Data. Using social services and exploiting social data in sales related business processes will over time affect the way we are doing customer master data management.

Social MDM2Apart from having frontend applications being social aware we also need social aware data integration services and we do indeed need social aware Master Data Management (MDM) solutions for handling data quality issues and ensuring a Single Customer View (SCV) stretching from the old systems of record to the new systems of engagement.

One service capable of doing data integration between the old world and the new world is FlipTop and some months ago I was interviewed on the FlipTop blog about the links to Social MDM here. Currently I’m working with a social aware Master Data Management solution being the iDQ™ MDM Edition.

What about you? Are your Customer Master Data Management and related data quality activities becoming social aware?

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What’s so Special About MDM?

In a blog post from yesterday one of my favorite bloggers Loraine Lawson writes:

“Take master data management, for instance. Oh sure, experts preach that it’s a discipline, not “just” a technology, but come on. Did anybody ever hear about MDM before MDM solutions were created?”

The post is called: Let’s Talk: Do You Really Need an Executive Sponsor for MDM?

And yes we do need an executive sponsor. Also we need a business case as we must avoid doing it big bang style and we need to establish metrics for measuring success and so on.

All wise things as it is wise sayings about data quality improvement initiatives, business intelligence (BI) implementations, customer relationship management (CRM) system roll-out and almost any other kind of technology enabled project.

shiny thingsI touched this subject some years ago in the post Universal Pearls of Wisdom.

So let’s talk:

  • Is an executive sponsor more important for Master Data Management (MDM) than for Business Intelligence (BI)?
  • Is a business case more important for Master Data Management (MDM) than for Supplier Chain Management (SCM)?
  • Is big bang style more dangerous for Master Data Management (MDM) than for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)?

And oh, don’t just tell me that I can’t compare apples and pears.

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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 SalesForce.com contact data with Xing.

As said in the MRM24 blog post called Social CRM – Integration von Business Netzwerken in Salesforce.com:

“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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What’s so special about your party master data?

My last blog post was called Is Managing Master Data a Differentiating Capability? The post is an introduction to a conference session being a case story about managing master data at Philips.

During my years working with data quality and master data management it has always struck me how different organizations are managing the party master data domain while in fact the issues are almost the same everywhere.

business partnersFirst of all party master data are describing real world entities being the same to everyone. Everyone is gathering data about the same individuals and the same companies being on the same addresses and having the same digital identities. The real world also comes in hierarchies as households, company families and contacts belonging to companies which are the same to everyone. We may call that the external hierarchy.

Based on that everyone has some kind of demand for intended duplicates as a given individual or company may have several accounts for specific purposes and roles. We may call that the internal hierarchy.

A party master data solution will optimally reflect the internal hierarchy while most of the business processes around are supported by CRM-systems, ERP-systems and special solutions for each industry.

Fulfilling reflecting the external hierarchy will be the same to everyone and there is no need for anyone to reinvent the wheel here. There are already plenty of data models, data services and data sources out there.

Right now I’m working on a service called instant Data Quality that is capable of embracing and mashing up external reference data sources for addresses, properties, companies and individuals from all over the world.

The iDQ™ service already fits in at several places as told in the post instant Data Quality and Business Value. I bet it fits your party master data too.

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Beyond True Positives in Deduplication

The most frequent data quality improvement process done around is deduplication of party master data.

A core functionality of many data quality tools is the capability to find duplicates in large datasets with names, addresses and other party identification data.

When evaluating the result of such a process we usually divide the result of found duplicates into:

  • False positives being automated match results that actually do not reflect  real world duplicates
  • True positives being  automated match results reflecting the same real world entity

The difficulties in reaching the above result aside, you should think the rest is easy. Take the true positives, merge into a golden record and purge the unneeded duplicate records in your database.

Well, I have seen so many well executed deduplication jobs ending just there, because there are a lot of reasons for not making the golden records.

Sure, at lot of duplicates “are bad” and should be eliminated.

But many duplicates “are good” and have actually been put into the databases for a good reason supporting different kind of business processes where one view is needed in one case and another view is needed in another case.

Many, many operational applications, including very popular ERP and CRM systems, do have inferior data models that are not able to reflect the complexity of the real world.

Only a handful of MDM (Master Data Management) solutions are able to do so, but even then the solutions aren’t easy as most enterprises have an IT landscape with all kinds of applications with other business relevant functionality that isn’t replaced by a MDM solution.

What I like to do when working with getting business value from true positives is to build a so called Hierarchical Single Source of Truth.

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Social MDM and Complex Sales

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”.

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

Traditional MDM in B2B environments 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.

Social MDM adds a new external source of reference data to MDM solutions for B2B customer master data management. This new source is professional social network profiles where LinkedIn is the most known and used service around.

It is early days for social MDM solutions so it is quite exciting for me to work with designing the first kind of such solutions around the MDM edition of the instant Data Quality service.

Stay tuned for more news in this field on this blog in the times to come.

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Customer Management, Data Quality and MDM

Today I am visiting the Call Centre and Customer Management Expo 2012 in London and have a chance to learn about what’s going on in this area – and what happens to data quality and master data management.

Postcodes Anywhere

At the PostcodeAnywhere stand the talk is about data quality. PostcodeAnywhere has become a well known vendor of services for validating addresses in the United Kingdom based on the unique structure of the UK postal code and addressing system. I had a chat with Marketing Executive Ed Nash about the challenges of delivering similar services for all the other countries on the planet with their particular ways of addressing.

Phone Number Testing

Peter Muswell of ”ThePhone Number Testing Company” describes his company as the best kept secret in customer management. Indeed, I haven’t heard of this service before. The trick is a service for testing if a phone number is alive or not – notably without making any ghost calls. The service works in the UK. It works in some other countries and it doesn’t work in some other other countries. Just like most other data quality services.

Social Customer Service

The Salesforce.com stand is all about Social Customer Service. There is plenty of functionality offered for getting social with CRM (Customer Relationship Management). The tricky part, as confirmed by the Salesforce.com representative, is to manage customer master data embracing all the traditional data as addresses and phone numbers and the new keys to social data being social network profile identifiers. Sure, there will be a huge demand for Social Master Data Management (Social MDM).

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Staying in Doggerland

Currently I’m travelling a lot between my present home in London, United Kingdom and Copenhagen, Denmark where I have most of my family and where the iDQ headquarter is.

When flying between London and Copenhagen you pass the southern North Sea. In the old days (8,000 years ago) this area was a land occupied by human beings. This ancient land is known today as Doggerland.

Sometimes I feel like a citizen of Doggerland not really belonging in the United Kingdom or Denmark.

I still have some phone subscriptions in Denmark I use there and my family are using there.  The phone company seems to have a hard time getting a 360 degree customer view as I have two different spellings of my name and two different addresses as seen on the screen when I look up myself in the iDQ service:

Besides having a Customer Relationship Mess (CRM) the phone company has recently shifted their outsourcing partner (from CSC to TCS). This has caused a lot of additional mess, apparently also closing one of my subscriptions due to that they have failed to register my payments. They did however send a chaser they say, but to the oldest of the addresses where I don’t pick up mail anymore.

I called to settle the matter and asked if they could correct the address not in use anymore. They couldn’t. The operator did some kind of query into the citizen hub similar to what I can do on iDQ:

However the customer service guy’s screen just showed that I have no address in Denmark in the citizen hub (called CPR), so he couldn’t change the address.

Apparently the phone company have correctly picked up an accurate address in the citizen hub when I got the subscription but failed to update it (along with the other subscriptions) when I moved to another domestic address and now don’t have an adequate business rule when I’m registered at a foreign address.

So now I’m staying in Doggerland.

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Business Contact Reference Data

When working with selling data quality software tools and services I have often used external sources for business contact data and not at least when working with data matching and party master data management implementations in business-to-business (B2B) environments I have seen uploads of these data in CRM sources.

A typical external source for B2B contact data will look like this:

Some of the issues with such data are:

  • Some of the contact data names may be the same real world individual as told in the post Echoes in the Database
  • People change jobs all the time. The external lists will typically have entries verified some time ago and when you upload to your own databases, data will quickly become useless do to data decay.
  • When working with large companies in customer and other business partner roles you often won’t interact with the top level people, but people in lower levels not reflected in such external sources.

The rise of social networks has presented new opportunities for overcoming these challenges as examined in a post (written some years ago) called Who is working where doing what?

However, I haven’t seen so many attempts yet to automate and include working with social network profiles in business processes. Surely there are technical issues and not at least privacy considerations in doing so as discussed in the post Sharing Social Master Data.

Right now we have a discussion going on in the LinkedIn Social MDM group about examples of connecting social network profiles and master data management. Please add your experiences in the group here – and join if you aren’t already a member.

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