Regaining control of enterprise data

Industry experts discuss the growing value of Master Data Management solutions and practices.

It happens all the time:

  • Enterprises send the same marketing materials to the same audience multiple times.
  • They purchase assets they already own.
  • They fail to understand their customers’ purchasing history and preferences, and deliver poor experiences as a result.
  • And they leave money on the table by not recognizing and pursuing business opportunities.

Enterprise data is commonly stored in different silos, managed by different platforms, and consumed by different applications. As a result, manual processes, duplication of effort, and inconsistencies abound.

“The problem is universal,” says Anil Kini, Cofounder and Chief Technology Officer of Riversand Technologies, a Master Data Management (MDM) software provider that serves some of the world’s largest retail operations. “Enterprises need to regain control of their data, not only to clean up operational inefficiencies but to identify and pursue business advantages.”

To improve business processes, enterprises need a consistent view of their mission-critical data. MDM software can help.

“Master Data Management is all about managing the identity of something, whether it’s a customer, product, part, or financial account,” says Roger Wolter, Principal Architect at Scalability Experts, a leading data management and business intelligence consulting company. “It helps clean and normalize disparate data records, manage data processes and workflows, and deliver ‘master’ data to the right applications and users.”

  • MDM software acts as an intermediary between database systems and the applications that consume the data.
  • Because different systems speak different languages, MDM translates data into a common language and consolidates redundant entities into a single record.
  • MDM also helps define and enforce data policies that lead to better business practices.

“It’s more of a process,” says Wolter, “than a tool.”

With a singular view of mission-critical data across disparate systems, enterprises can begin to improve operational efficiency and find business opportunities.

Reducing cost and complexity
MDM has traditionally been too costly, too complex, and too difficult to manage for many companies. But cloud and Software-as-as-Service (SaaS) models, in addition to newer storage devices, are making it more attractive and feasible.

“MDM has typically required a lot of gear to get the very best performance,” says Blair Parkhill, Product Manager for X-IO Technologies, a recognized innovator in the storage industry. “The latest 3U storage devices, however, can group drives in a single rack and act as one device. This enables high scalability with low TCO and reduced administrative burden.”

“Using MDM in a cloud-based SaaS model is also an option,” Kini adds. “Doing so means enterprises don’t have to worry about infrastructure management and administration. They can focus solely on good data practices.”

The latest MDM software with the latest storage and cloud technologies allow enterprises to bring their databases together, merge their disparate data sets, and begin to identify trends and opportunities.

“Any company with a large client base or significant number of products or SKUs will find value in MDM,” says Parkhill. “They have an opportunity to learn more about their customers, provide better experiences, and sell more.”

  • The first step is defining and implementing a layer of software services that orchestrate data consolidation, cleansing, and enrichment prior to redistributing the data back to operational systems.
  • Once the data has been consolidated and normalized, analytics and reporting can be applied.

“Master data can be analyzed against itself, which reveals data quality, growth, and richness as well as changes in master data entities over time,” says Andrew Simpson, Vice President of Business Development at Riversand Technologies. “Companies can also conduct workflow reporting to evaluate and improve process efficiency.”

Increasing efficiency and agility
MDM is not just for one company. It can filter down to partners, suppliers, and distributors. Big box retailers, in particular, can benefit from a consistent, streamlined supply chain that is all working from the same MDM playbook; a playbook that includes a single platform, automated workflows and rules, and greater consistency and quality of shared data.

“It’s not just about data consolidation and number of records,” Simpson explains. “It’s the number of attributes per record, and the relationships between individual records and groups of records. This is where analytics can fuel operational efficiency, cross-selling, and up-selling.”

Beyond operational efficiency measures, customer experience improvements, and competitive advantages, MDM helps enterprises become more agile. With a singular view and greater understanding of their business, companies can more quickly adapt to changing market and customer dynamics.

“With MDM,” says Simpson, “enterprises can accelerate their decision making and their ability to identify and capitalize on business opportunities.”


Pushing the scalability limits of Master Data Management

Riversand’s MDMCenter software exceeds expectations.

To provide the greatest value to the largest enterprises, Master Data Management (MDM) solutions must scale. Not only to millions of records, but tens of millions of records, with hundreds of attributes each. And sub-second response times for thousands of concurrent users.

“There are several MDM solutions on the market that work well for a million customers or a million SKUs,” says Roger Wolter, Principal Architect at Scalability Experts. “But they don’t always work well at higher volumes. If you have more than a couple million entities, you can run into performance and scalability problems. And if you have 50 million or more entities, the problem is compounded tenfold.”

Industry leaders have been working to solve such problems, and recently conducted tests to benchmark the performance and scalability of the latest MDM solutions. Riversand’s MDMCenter software was tested on Intel® Xeon® processor-based Cisco® Unified Computing System™ featuring Microsoft SQL Server and X-IO high-performance storage gear, with help from systems integrator scalability experts.

Exceeding all expectations and showcasing the vast potential of modern MDM solutions, the testing:

  • Established the strong performance of Riversand’s MDMCenter software in scenarios using high volumes of data for large quantities of users
  • Authenticated the solution’s ability to successfully scale horizontally, without a reduction in performance
  • Demonstrated sub-second response times for data retrieval, processing more than 2 billion records in a single database table
  • Established the ease of deployment and configuration of the application for both private and public cloud models
  • Achieved a load time of three hours for 1 million entities, with linear performance up to 10 million entities

“We wanted to push the scalability limits of our MDM software,” says Anil Kini, Cofounder and Chief Technology Officer of Riversand Technologies. “We successfully reached 10 million entities and didn’t hit a wall. And we were able to load those 10 million entities in about a day and a half, which means businesses can rapidly manage and disseminate information.

“With the right infrastructure and software,” Anil claims, “MDM will prove to be an invaluable tool for small to global enterprises.”

Learn More

Discover more on MDM by reading the Aberdeen Group study on The Business Value of Product Data: The Importance of MDM and PIM system. Or check out case studies covering retail, manufacturing, and energy companies.