IT integration is about connecting digital systems and applications in order to increase availability and eliminate silos, both on premises and in the cloud. Master Data Management (MDM) is all about improving organizational data quality by propagating a unified and holistic approach to data governance.
For, although MDM provides its own out-of-the-box enterprise connectivity through APIs, RESTful Web services and messaging, it also needs sophisticated integration solutions, such as Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) and system/application connectors. These help MDM to fulfill its enterprise mission of cleansing, reconciling and validating sharable, enterprise data across multiple and often disparate systems.
In other words, integration should be viewed as a key MDM component and facilitator; it is the bee to MDM’s flower and helps cross-pollinate across systems to broaden and scale up MDM’s organizational outreach.
In addition to providing system and application connectivity, the integration and MDM relationship is about merging corporate data—or providing data integration. New customers want to understand the scope and comprehensiveness of an MDM solution’s data integration capabilities, and how quickly those capabilities can collect and deliver mission-critical data sets into the MDM hub or repository.
No use case better illustrates the value of integration and MDM’s symbiotic partnership than managing customer data. Leaving no customer data behind is every business’ objective. But customer data is historically the most difficult master data of all to maintain.
Where do we get customer data? Anywhere we can! Customer data is scanned through hand-held devices (think trade shows), entered through e-commerce and B2B sites, and volunteered through a myriad of APIs at multiple store locations—many with different data entry standards. If you add mergers and acquisitions into the mix, customer data is surely the most voluminous, and potentially most inaccurate, of all master data domains.
Creating a single version or view of the customer master record is sometimes referred to as the “single version of truth.” MDM’s goal is to produce that truth by merging and matching different representations of the same customer record, thereby creating a “gold copy.”
But, whose truth is it when certain critical customer systems fail to be integrated into, or take part in, the data management process? This lack of integration can easily undermine the integrity of MDM’s governance over core customer master data.
And what happens when the data management objective is to move beyond managing basic customer contact information to expand the customer data integration role for supporting large enterprise initiatives (e.g., customer experience, product on-boarding or supply-chain optimization)?
MDM should be counted on to follow the data. Managing customer data within a CRM or ERP system, spell check (in real time), data entry through e-commerce APIs, and synchronizing product preferences and buying habits collected through order entry and even social media (enabling streaming and predictive analytics in order enhance the retail experience), is what digital enterprises expect of a viable platform solution.
However, this leading-edge, governance journey is only achievable with the help of a flexible, integration solution. MDM needs integration like the flowers need the bees.