Master Data Management (MDM) is not a new concept or practice within the context of IT, it has been around in one form or another since the late 1990's. Despite a very compelling value proposition and a wide variety of sophisticated tools and practitioners, MDM never achieved the market penetration or levels of success associated with other similar IT practice areas.
There are a number of reasons why MDM never really took off, including but not limited to:
However, to understand why Master Data Management is on the periphery of most organizations' priority lists, it is perhaps instructive to take a deeper dive into why many MDM projects run into trouble. Based on more than a decade of working in or along with major MDM initiatives, we can easily identify the top 5 mistakes or challenges associated with typical MDM projects:
Fully more than half of the projects organizations engage in that involve Master Data fail to actually recognize that they are in fact Master Data projects. In many cases, the focus or premise of these types of projects is considered to be Data Warehouses, Marts, or ETL and even Big Data. Yet within each of these types of efforts there is often a good deal of Master Data - sometimes it is acknowledged as such even though it isn't considered an MDM project per se. Other times the fact that master data is involved appears quite irrelevant to the initiative. While it may seem intuitive that working with Master Data without considering that the project requires some form of Master Data Management is highly problematic, this is actually a fairly common situation. This also tends to beg an important question - what exactly does the term Master Data or the practice of Master Data Management actually represent?
The official Wikipedia definitions are as follows:
So, what happens if an organization doesn't acknowledge that it is actually working with Master Data? And perhaps more importantly, how do you deal with a project that isn't only focused on Master Data yet has a critical Master Data Component embedded within? We will delve further into those questions in part 2 of this article.
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