Digital transformation has revolutionised business, but it has also created some unique challenges, including increasingly complex data environments. The common hybrid model of on-premise and multi-cloud means data is often trapped in multiple siloes, in unstandardised formats and frequently inaccessible to those who need it. This hinders operational efficiency and threatens regulatory compliance, but perhaps more importantly can have a serious negative impact on the customer experience.
Fourth generation Master Data Management (MDM) help businesses address these issues, by breaking down data silos, connecting hard-to-access information and enabling customer insights to be shared across the organisation.
Customers are complex
One thing that digital transformation has taught us is that there is no single key to unlocking customer insight. Customers are complex, and in order to gain a better picture of them, businesses need to understand who they interact with, what products they are interested in, what they actually purchase, when and where they make their purchases, and more. Understanding customers means gaining more context around them and their behaviours, more broadly than just their individual profiles.
Data is the crux to gaining this insight, and MDM in turn is instrumental in managing data. A centralised view of data across the organisation, and the ability to analyse this data, helps businesses to gain a more complete and accurate view of their customers, as well as meeting compliance objectives. However, previous iterations of MDM have been limited by the underlying technology. New generation solutions address common challenges, giving organisations the power deliver MDM quickly, to analyse more data and more data types, and to link and understand relationships like never before.
New generation, new insights
Next-generation MDM moves away from static relational databases, enabling businesses to work with data in far more flexible ways, unfettered by the limited data models of the past. New solutions are flexible, modular and scalable, so businesses can easily connect two systems into a centralised view, and then bolt on another, and another, quickly incorporating them into the agile data model as required to support evolving demands.
No longer are businesses constrained by the need to plan every use case in advance and spend months in procurement cycles for new hardware and software. Virtualisation empowers businesses to reference their data where it resides, rather than having to replicate it in a central database, supporting a hybrid model with ease, and there are multiple options for consolidating data. This provides an element of futureproofing as well, allowing MDM systems to evolve and change as business requirements do.
Knowledge graphs are power
With next generation MDM, businesses can uncover hidden relationships by integrating customer, transaction, product and social data into new data models. A foundation of governed knowledge graphs, the technology underlying Facebook and Google, moves master data management beyond the limitation of relational databases to encourage visual data modelling and analytics. This, in turn helps to add context to customer profiles and relationships, uncover and act on insights, and create powerful customer experiences.
Businesses are also able to cleanse, standardise and validate their data, and also link information from any data source, both internal and external, to deliver new relationship insights. Traditional data can be enhanced using contextual information such as location and demographics, and insights can be integrated into existing workflows and processes.
MDM has always been about unlocking the value of data through a single, integrated view. However, digital transformation has made customer interactions more complex. With fourth generation tools, like Spectrum Context Graph, businesses can leverage greater accuracy, agility and context. This enables them to make smarter, more effective decisions and customise engagements and interactions, for unprecedented customer insight and understanding.
By Gary Alleman, Managing Director of Master Data Management