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What is master data management (MDM)

To fully understand master data management (MDM), we must first define and explain master data and differentiate between it and master data management.

Master data is the critical business information that supports and classifies the transactional and analytical data of an enterprise. It may also be referred to as “enterprise data” or “metadata,” and often includes application-specific metadata, alternative business perspectives, corporate dimensions, reference data, and master data assets. Examples of enterprise data include chart of accounts, organization or cost-center structures, market segments, product categories, and more.

Master data management (MDM) does exactly what the name implies—manages master data. MDM is the combination of applications and technologies that consolidates, cleanses, and augments this master data and synchronizes it with applications, business processes, and analytical tools. When MDM is done well, the master data used across organizations is more accurate and trustworthy.

Master data management (MDM) software provides a simplified master data management process to help solve many of the challenges businesses face when dealing with managing enterprise, product, and customer data.

What problem does master data management software solve—and why is it important?

When master data is incorrect or scattered and hidden throughout the organization, it can negatively impact all aspects of the business. Often, having incorrect master data results in conflicting figures for the same metric, excess inventory, late-to-market acquisitions and company reorganizations, and inaccurate demand forecasts.

In short, without MDM, there is no unified focus on aligning master data with the organization’s business needs and strategy. Although everyone in the business uses master data, few people have visibility into its full lifecycle. Key stakeholders often don’t know the data source, how accurate it is, or how to increase its value. This lack of visibility is more often than not due to the many disparate enterprise solutions and business functions that author and consume data.

When you consider the number of stakeholders in an organization—both internal and external—it can quickly become clear why it can be difficult to access current, accurate, and complete information stored across the business. Factor in mergers, growth, and globalization, and information can end up located across multiple, disconnected systems and databases, each of which are most likely housing different versions of the same information and of varying quality. Because of this, reporting and analytic solutions cannot be relied upon to help inform strategic and confident business decisions. To keep this data in sync, many organizations rely on manual data entry, spreadsheets, or homegrown solutions.

How a unified MDM solution helps with enterprise, product, and customer data management

MDM for Enterprise Data Management (EDM)

Many organizations use manual processes that rely on emails, spreadsheets, and conference calls to build consensus around enterprise master data elements. Processes such as these can lead to long reconciliation cycles as well as alignment and trust issues in enterprise reporting.

Without access to a common reference, it’s no surprise that figures across the organization may not match. In addition, without effective Enterprise Data Management (EDM), companies will be slower to respond to change—whether migrating an application to the cloud, managing the effects of mergers and acquisitions, or simply reconciling enterprise data differences across business functions and applications.

EDM ensures that business applications are aligned with each other through the consistent use of critical enterprise data elements, such as the chart of accounts. EDM helps ensure that enterprise master data is not only consistent across financial systems, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and enterprise performance management (EPM), but also reporting, analytics, and other transactional applications such as procurement, supply chain, and customer experience (CX) systems.

With a system for EDM, employees work with the data they need using their everyday software (accounting, CRM, etc.). EDM will crowdsource these activities and add them to a shared framework. This allows information sharing and data governance to mature into formal policies that are based on how people actually use the data instead of preconceived, inflexible rules.

MDM for product master data management (MDM)

From developing the latest disruptive innovations to simply keeping the lights on, accurate and timely product data is an organization’s informational lifeline. Best-practice product master data management gives the business a 360-degree view of all product data. This includes everyone from C-level executives who develop organizational strategy to users who continually utilize product information for development, marketing, supply chain, and enterprise operations.

By taking all the product master data scattered throughout heterogeneous systems and consolidating and centralizing it, product master data management (MDM) becomes the single view of product information that can be leveraged across all functional departments. It helps eliminate product data fragmentation, a problem that often results when companies rely on nonintegrated legacy and best-of-breed applications, participate in a merger or acquisition, or grow the business globally.

A product master data management solution provides the foundation for enterprise business transformation, delivering a single source of correct product data required for your sales, marketing, supply chain, and ERP processes. With product MDM, you can establish a unified enterprise product record and digital thread that helps you rapidly commercialize, govern, and publish product master data for globalized manufacturing and omnichannel commerce, and seamlessly syndicate data to internal and external applications and marketplaces with a single multidomain solution—delivering trusted and commercialized product information for faster time to market.

MDM for customer data management (CDM)

Clean, consistent customer data is vital to an organization’s success. Customer data management (CDM) consolidates, cleans, completes, and coordinates data to and from multiple sources. It can also standardize addresses, resolve duplicate record issues, and ensure that sales teams have the best version of customer profiles and records.

CDM helps overcome common problems that arise from inconsistent, incomplete, and inaccurate customer data including:

  • Poor customer service resulting from inaccurate data
  • Sales teams with multiple reps working on duplicate accounts
  • Ineffective marketing due to duplicate leads

With trusted customer records, organizations have a more effective management platform, as well as a single, accurate customer view that can be used across multiple systems and business units. Good customer data provides a holistic picture that allows for rationalized account planning, improved sales execution, and customer profitability.

What are the differences between product information management and MDM—and why does it matter?

Product information management (PIM) is a system that handles product information across all channels related to a business; it is critical to supply chain effectiveness, productivity, time to market, product quality, and even customer satisfaction. Conversely, MDM comprises all the transactional and operational data of an organization—or, put simply—all the data that resides within a company. MDM is bigger and broader than just products. While MDM encompasses all information, including product data, it also includes any and all data regarding employees, customers, suppliers, vendors, and more.

When you can share the same, single source of accurate product data required for your sales, marketing, supply chain, and ERP processes, your business can efficiently commercialize new products and services. An MDM solution does just that: it ensures that complete and consistent product information is published across your sales channels while efficiently sharing trusted product data across back-end SCM, ERP, and order fulfillment systems.

Get started with master data management (MDM) solutions from Oracle

Everyone in your organization relies on accurate and timely data to make decisions—from executives developing organizational strategy to users driving throughput in development, marketing, supply chain, and operations. As you continue to align your portfolio and processes with your strategy and growth objectives, having trusted master data seamlessly flow throughout the enterprise can save you time and money, dramatically increase your supply chain and selling efficiencies, improve customer loyalty, and support sound corporate governance. Legacy systems working in separate silos just aren’t capable of supporting today’s changing business models and more complex products and services.

Oracle’s multientity MDM solutions are a set of purpose-built applications designed to consolidate, clean, govern, and share master data across the business. Oracle’s MDM solutions are cloud-based and built on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, which means Oracle’s solution will stay up to date with the latest features, functionality, and best practices.

Oracle MDM solution rolls out updates regularly, so you’re continuously leveraging the latest technological innovations. With MDM on a common data model across ERP, supply chain management SCM, PLM, and CX, you can ensure that you have a single source of reliable master data across channels, departments, and geographies.