MDM without boiling the ocean

I was thinking about Master Data Management (MDM) last night. There’s been a lot of hype over the past few years about MDM. At its simplest level, MDM is about handling common data, such as customer or product data, in a way that enables disparate IT systems and business groups to reuse the data. The concept is certainly not new. I remember working at a company twenty years ago where consultants were hired to try to get a single view of certain core information – in this case a single view of business customers.

MDM is Complex

MDM is a complex undertaking that needs to be thought about at a strategic level. A complete MDM deployment is not going to happen all at once. There are numerous technical, operational, and organizational challenges that need to be addressed when implementing an MDM solution. These include data governance, other organizational issues such as resistance to change, determining the MDM architecture, dealing with data quality issues, and the list goes on. No wonder many of the larger platform companies and system integrators have gotten into the act.


So, given this reality is there room for smaller players, say those that have a pragmatic approach to support and supplement MDM as well as offer an alternative to the single view challenge? I think so.


I recently had an interesting conversation with Robert Eve, the VP of Marketing, from Composite Software. For those of you who don’t know, Composite Software provides data integration by virtualizing data silos. The software accesses data from disparate data sources and creates a virtual data layer that can be used by various enterprise applications. Composite has done a good job in transforming itself over the past few years from providing composite views to EII and now data virtualization/real time data integration.

I wanted to understand how Composite Software supports MDM. Robert and I spoke about the various approaches to MDM including custom coding, ETL, messaging, and data virtualization. Composite provides solutions in the last category and it has positioned its software to support MDM initiatives in three ways:

  • Creating “multiple” single views, combining how ever many columns in the core data master hub with potentially thousands of columns of related data, depending on depending on “user” role and “business” requirement.
  • Helping to create the hub via better data access, especially from complex systems such as SAP or Siebel.
  • Enable data quality processes by teaming with data quality vendors.

MDM light?

While Composite is positioning itself as a complement to MDM. it does provide what can be termed “MDM light”. A popular use case (sans MDM) for the company is creating a single view of something across several data silos. This single view might be a single view of a physician, sales manager, or employee. While this isn’t an MDM hub with all of the bells and whistles it does provide a practical way for companies to get at the single view issue on a smaller scale.

2 thoughts on “MDM without boiling the ocean”

  1. This is an interesting set of observations. One trend I see is a convergence of process based and ESB based application/service integration with ETL based and federated database approaches to information integration.

    I have a slightly different view of MDM. There is a long history of information integration to produce single logical data models. I think of MDM building on these lower level technologies to add rule based and heuristic based cleansing/cleaning of the data and inferring additional information.

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