Data Maturity, MDM & The Digital Enterprise

Remember all those case studies, implementation disasters, dos and don’ts and other cool articles that you read and wrote papers about for your MIS classes? Companies spending millions in implementing enterprise applications, huge retail chains going ‘bigbang’ with their go live periods overnight only to confuse thousands of operators enjoying their first cup of coffee on a Monday morning.

‘The Digital Enterprises’ or companies struggling to become more ‘digital-friendly’ were simply concepts/notions for many of us since we found it hard to relate all the hardship to our professional experience back then.

But that was some 10 years ago… Today’s information age worker is no longer exempt from such transformation and expected to play an active role in the change in line with their exposure, skill sets and level of seniority within an organisation: C-suite, senior management, operations. They’re all part of the change in successful transformations and have a stake in it, such as:

  • Improved visibility at the high level,
  • Process control and KPI optimisation,
  • Proactive management through better usage of data that is structured,
  • Ability to reveal patterns and tactical manoeuvrability advantages with availability of systems and operational data,
  • Accountability, governance and transparency at the operational level.

In the pursuit of ‘digitisation’ enterprises turn to consultants, tap into the internal talent pool or dramatically outsource duties to undertake digital transformation (See also: The seven traits of effective digital enterprises by McKinsey&Company). Regardless of which path one chooses; for business leaders with a mandate to sponsor digitisation efforts, it’s important to understand what ‘maturity level’ their company operates at and the gaps that need to be filled.

Gartner’s MDM (Master Data Management) Maturity diagram sums up common traits of enterprises at different maturity levels and the potential symptoms that might help business leaders assess their situation.

MDM Maturity Gartner

While the term MDM by itself is not fully representative of ‘digitisation’, enterprises that have done a fine job in scaling up their digital & data capabilities vastly benefit from uniform systems, structured data that is shared across available enterprise systems in the form of MDM/reference data.

There are several -and equally informative MDM descriptions on the internet. Here’s one from Oracle, which I believe to be highly relevant to the challenges and notions described herein.

“Master Data is the critical business information supporting the transactional and analytical operations of an enterprise. Master Data Management (MDM) is a combination of applications and technologies that consolidates, cleans, and augments this corporate master data, and synchronises it with all applications, business processes, and analytical tools. This results in significant improvements in operational efficiency, reporting, and fact based decision-making (Master Data Management, September 2011 White Paper, Oracle).”

In the enterprise framework, an alternative yet practical description of the term ‘MDM’ might as well be:

“We do things the data way”.


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