Is the Cloud the future of MDM?

The analysis of Pascal Anthoine, Director of the Enterprise Information Management (EIM) Practice at Micropole.

By 2015, 10% of MDM implementations will be delivered as SaaS on public clouds, according to Gartner. Cloud computing, both as a technical platform and as a service provider, is proving to be a real growth driver for MDM in the years to come and opens up multiple perspectives. Pascal Anthoine, Director of Micropole's Enterprise Information Management Practice, sheds light on this issue.

Beyond the outsourcing of processes and data, the cloud is unique in its ability to offer a business service: standardization, enrichment, quality control, data segmentation, etc. The cloud solution provider is no longer selling a repository project, but rather a service offering for marketing to manage its customer data repository. Undeniably, the cloud brings business value around the solution. But this means outsourcing the customer repository! However, a large company will rarely take this step for fear of the risks of outsourcing its critical data. Although IT managers now easily use the cloud to host their processes, it still seems too early to see them investing in the cloud en masse, whether for their "master" data, customer information, product repository, etc., which they want to see remain in the company for the time being.

If, thanks to the additional business services and the quality of the reference data it provides, MDM has found a legitimate way forward with cloud computing, it remains for CIOs to take a new step. But when we remember their reluctance at the beginning of the cloud, it seems to me that we need to be a little more patient...

Data is the fuel of the process

The challenges associated with MDM in companies and the benefits it brings to business departments are strategic in such a competitive environment. MDM enables better business processes to be guaranteed by consolidating and unifying data, but if the data is not good, the business process will inevitably be impacted.

In addition, the centralized management and uniqueness of reference data brings financial and time savings and greater agility for the integration or replacement of software within the IS. 

Another point: the business-oriented operational benefits. Indeed, not having a single view of your customer or your product is detrimental. Time to market and customer service remain fundamental, especially with highly volatile digital channels. Unifying systems is often a desire in large companies, but the reality is that the CIO must sometimes manage several ERP or business applications temporarily, and often permanently. The desire to unify processes (and therefore the solutions that support them) is often not relevant because of the specificities of business models or local legislation. What is really important is to share the "master" data. And MDM facilitates sharing between these different ERPs and avoids having to struggle to achieve the "grail" of the great unification of systems.

In cascade, optimized processes will bring up events that are easier to consolidate, management will be more efficient and reporting will be optimized, which will provide an undeniable competitive advantage to the company.

Questions to ask before an MDM project

Today, customers understand better and faster what benefits they can get from the implementation of an MDM project. However, it is necessary to ask certain questions beforehand to be sure to make the right choice... ERP is sometimes the best alternative.

  • Is my company single or multi-site? The complexity of the company is very important. The more fragmented, multi-business, multinational... it is, the weaker the coherence of the data will be, so an MDM approach will be necessary. 
  • How much data do my teams manage? If I manage 100,000 or even 1 million cross-channel referrers, ensuring consistency is very complex. So I need very efficient processes, but using an ERP can be difficult to manage and ill-suited. MDM allows us to simplify the administration of the data. 
  • What is the level of complexity of the product to be managed and modeled? Often these processes require the intervention of several actors, which makes them complex. MDM brings together the various business lines and players in the company and thus provides them with a unified view. 
  • How are my processes managed? ERPs are business process oriented, which means that every time you want to change a process, you have to migrate data. Internally, this is once again difficult to manage. You have to switch everything over, at the risk of losing your data assets, which are no longer under control. MDM allows you to separate processes from the "master" data.
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