Master Data Management –It’s about the business, not the technology
The term ‘data’ invariably takes our mind to a world of computers and IT. It is not surprising, considering the fact that before the all-encompassing moniker ‘IT’ became common, the field was known as EDP – Electronic Data Processing. This remnant of the (relatively) old ways leads to a short-sighted approach being taken when we talk about modern concepts such as master data management.
Current perception about MDM as an IT tool
In most organizations, all kinds of data, whether material master data, customer data, purchased parts master data, or any other type of data automatically becomes the responsibility of the IT department and they are expected and supposed to drive the initiative. This pattern of thinking does a disservice not only to the IT team, it also becomes a problematic proposition for the enterprise in the long term.
Why this paints an incomplete picture?
There are a number of reasons why organizations still treat MDM as something that IT has to take care of.
- Data has always been linked to computers – This is a human response to hearing about data. The internet of things is still in its conceptual phase and we are used to thinking about data as something that is fed into computers. Perceptions are changing but it will take time.
- The scope of MDM is not clear – Master data management can and should be a critical part of an enterprise’s strategy. In many cases, people are not clear about how much impact master data can have and even what it exactly is. In such cases, it is easy to relegate master data to a position far below its worth and think that it can be handled by a single department.
- It is easy to implement – Human inertia is also a culprit. Many people (even some experts) believe that a company starting off with a master data management initiative should start small (with a single department) and ramp up as and when required. This idea, though it sound intuitively right, does not yield the required result in the long term.
- Data is an orphan – In most companies, it is no one’s responsibility to manage the data. Even though its criticality is being understood, it is still easy for everyone to wash their hands off of data ownership and treat it as a technological issue.
Of course, just knowing how we go wrong by treating MDM as an IT tool is not enough. We need to recognise how it actively harms our data management efforts as a whole and how making the process business-centric is sure to get us better results. All this will be covered in the second part of this series of posts.
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