For some time now I have been impressed with the analysis of Philip Howard of Bloor, and today he came out with another well-written article that is long overdue:
As regular readers of this blog know, I have been arguing for some time that the MDM industry has been digging a pit for itself by the way it has ended up with silos of CDI and PIM technology in addition to more generic MDM offerings like Kalido. Phil eloquently points out the shortcomings of such an approach. By implementing solutions only designed for one particular type of master data (say, customer) companies are recreating the silos that they have today, but in a different form. At present the issue is that master data is locked up in mutliple monolithic ERP systems and assorted others, and the point of MDM is to reconcile these multiple master data versions in a master data repository which can keep track of them and manage the process of updating and creating new master data i.e. improving long term master data quality. By setting up a CDI hub, and then a PIM product, and then another repository for the next type of master data in vogue, we will move from having multiple ERP systems holding duplcated and inconsistent master data to multiple, incompatible MDM repositories doing the same. Indeed in some ways the situation will be worse, since the ERP systems are not going away and will still hold (and probably create) their own master data in addition. Master data is not just customer and product: you have to be concerned about assets, people, production facilities, brands etc. In one application at BP Kalido manages 350 separate master data types.
It is key that a master data repository is designed from the ground up to handle multiple datatypes. Buying solutions from a large vendor will not help, as Phil points out in his article: Oracle have multiple solutions, SAP’s MDM product is really an acquired catalogue management product that anyhow does not work properly right now, while with IBM you get the delight of buying several acquired technologies with different approaches and hiring IBM consultants to figure out the mess. My fear is that the menagerie of tools that the industry is delivering will stunt the growth of MDM in general, as customers realise that they have leapt from the frying pan into the fire. Few commentators seem to acknowledge this issue, so well done to Phil for weighing in.
I’d also like to wish all my readers a very happy Christmas! Have a good break.