MDM in a UX perspective

Posted: April 28, 2013 in Science & Technology
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I follow Gartner and Forrester blogs on a regular basis. Both consultancy firms (is it right to call them that?) talk a great deal about Master Data Management (MDM), its benefits, pitfalls and the lot. They, being professionals, would have done detailed analysis and dozens of surveys to arrive at a conclusion on what MDM is, what to do and what not to do with it. I have learnt a good deal about the topic from these blogs. But I do find something missing.

Wikipedia describes MDM thus:

“Master Data Management (MDM) comprises a set of processes, governance, policies, standards and tools that consistently defines and manages the master data (i.e. non-transactional data entities) of an organization (which may include reference data).”

Other sites essentially describe the same thing in different terms. In short, it is a mechanism to arrive at and maintain a single version of truth about the customer’s data, held by an organisation. A common example used to illustrate this is using a customer of a bank. Let’s say a customer buys an insurance policy from his bank and a week later he gets a call from the same bank, trying to sell a similar kind of policy. Such a thing is quite normal (and annoying) and most of us would have faced it. Why would this happen? Doesn’t the bank know that you have just bought an insurance policy? This would suggest that either the bank does not have an MDM solution in place or that the MDM solution is ineffective.

Take another example. I have a savings account and a credit card with a large international banking corporation. I had applied for both at different times and, unfortunately, in one I had expanded one of my initials while in the other I had not. To escape the hassle of maintaining multiple logins for each product, I had initiated a request for the accounts to be merged, However it was declined due to difference in the names in their database. I was a disappointed to say the least.

In both situations, it is customer who has to compromise and live with the situation, to let the bank manage his or her data. Customer  or User experience (UX) – this, I think, is missing from what MDM is taken to mean.

Like the 12 principles of Agile, one of the tenets of MDM should be to be an enabler in creating a seamless, consistent user experience for the customer. It is unlikely that any MDM implementation would be wide enough in scope to actually define the UX component of the business. However, from the perspective of enterprise architecture practice of the organisation, the MDM solution should open gateways for the UX to offer a consistent experience.

An MDM solution, then, should look at how well existing business processes dealing with UX can be integrated. And propose changes to these processes and the associated IT components.


Wikipedia can then say:

“Master Data Management (MDM) comprises a set of processes, governance, policies, standards and tools that consistently defines and manages the master data (i.e. non-transactional data entities) of an organization (which may include reference data), allowing its customers to have a consistent, seamless user experience.”

  1. Andrew White says:

    Hi Rohit. I like your thinking – but I tend to disagree (sorry). I don’t think MDM can really extend towards the actual business user’s customer and how they interact with the business system/application. I would think that the Application Designer and team would be the place where UX experience is mastered. In that sense, MDM is just a “supplier” to all the business applications used to instantiate the desired business process. I would accept and agree that MDM and application strategy should be closer together (too many firms do not make the link that formal or close). I also think that IT (and vendors) need to do a far batter job with the UX of the MDM solutions that real business stewards and governors could use them (they struggle too today) but I would try to avoid watering down MDM by broadening its scope to the UX of the firms’ customers.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Andrew. I am saying exactly what you are. I am not proposing to broaden the MDM solution to include UX but the EA practice should think about what it would mean to UX by implementing the MDM solution. As you say, there should be better synergy between MDM and application strategy. For MDM to be a supplier, this synergy would be required.

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