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What Is Master Data Management: An MDM Guide in 2020

October 18, 2018

We're in a culture of harboring as much data as possible, but did you know that up to 73 percent of this data goes unused?

Managing business-critical data and prepping it for analysis is a lengthy process. This process only becomes more difficult when businesses keep piling onto their already large mountain of data.

Did you know: The average enterprise harbors roughly 347.56 terabytes of data, seven times as much data as the average small business with 47.81 terabytes, according to research from IDG.

That is an extreme amount of data, and it likely comes from multiple sources. So, how does a business even begin to aggregate all this data? Furthermore, how does a business locate its master data, or the most important data to draw insight from? 

The process for doing so is referred to as master data management, or MDM.

What is Master Data Management?

Master data management is costly and labor intensive, but to draw valuable insight from data, it's a necessary process. This process consists of:

  • Best version of data – With hundreds of terabytes on-hand, it's likely there are many versions of the same data within your organization. A crucial first-step of master data management is creating a single source of truth.down-arrow-direction
  • Data standardization – A process of formatting all data in a way that is uniform and contains no discrepancies.down-arrow-direction
  • Data governance – Specify the data's domain. In simple terms, where is this data coming from? Is it customer data, transactional data, product data, reference data – you get the gist. This process can also consist of applying metadata (data about data) for further understanding. down-arrow-direction
  • Distribution of trusted data – The data should now be ready for distribution and integration across the enterprise. Keep in mind, this is an iterative process – meaning it's dynamic and should be consistently tweaked.

When executed correctly, master data management optimizes business processes and gives companies a centralized maintenance and storage point.

This allows for easier data sharing between departments and reduces the complexities of data management. Data deduplication – one of the primary purposes of master data management – prevents staff from accessing multiple copies of the same piece of data.

This process, however, can be streamlined through the use of master data management software.

Master data management software

Master data management software accumulates data from various sources and automatically consolidates it into something called a master file. This file is then used as the primary resource for all business processes and applications.

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This software is typically used for quality assurance and big data analytics, and lets businesses manage their data in a more consistent, streamlined way.

Master data management software comes with various features, which upholds data security and integrity. Most programs store data in the cloud so users can access information remotely and in a safe manner. Some tools incorporate mobile data, providing businesses with comprehensive data analysis.

Less conventional tools, however, will soon incorporate all types of data – including unstructured and semi-structured data. This brings us to master data management's role in the world of big data.

MDM and big data

A reported 77 percent of businesses consider big data important for future success, but less than 20 percent have devised a plan to harness big data.

Why is big data so important? Well, 80 percent of data generated today is unstructured – meaning it cannot be collected, processed, and analyzed in conventional ways. Unstructured data consists of audio, video, human-generated text files, and more.

If most of the big data universe is unstructured, that means a majority of businesses are drawing insight from a minority amount of data.

With the total amount of generated data is expected to reach 163 zettabytes by 2025, businesses can become quickly overwhelmed trying to both manage it and locate master data.

Master data management software, however, can provide a solution.

When used as part of a larger enterprise planning strategy, master data management software can facilitate more accurate, efficient data – something that reduces operational costs, increases usability, ensures consistency and improves customer satisfaction and engagement.

In essence, master data management can help clear the fog of big data.

MDM summary

Master data management software provides users with a single repository, where the bulk of a company's data is kept safe and secure. This allows companies to track data points and filter unnecessary information.

More brands are utilizing master data management software to maintain data across departments. Additionally, 51 percent of companies have implemented master data management to support its business intelligence initiatives.  

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