Has Master Data Management Fulfilled Its Promise?

I've been around long enough to remember the original TV Series Knight Rider (1982 to 1986). The show starred David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, a high-tech modern crime fighter assisted by KITT, an advanced artificially intelligent and nearly indestructible car.

The series was notable for two technological promises, communication through a wrist watch (although Star Trek or Get Smart fans can claim first dibs on that one), and a driverless car.

Knight Rider and KITT

33 years later, the promise has been fulfilled with the Apple Watch and Google driverless car.

I've also been involved with the industry that promised a customer 360, first through Siebel CRM, then later through master data management (MDM) offerings such as Siebel UCM, Siperian MRM (Master Reference Manager), HM (Hierarchy Manager) and AM (Activity Manager). In fact, while working at Siperian back in 2006, we created this product version resulting in the following press release:

Siperian XT press release

Nearly 10 years later, the promise still hinges on a master data management hub feeding data to applications downstream "for both operational and analytical purposes". As for that elusive 360, back then EII and federated query provided an aggregate view "outside the hub". Today's MDM offerings ranging from Informatica, IBM, Oracle, SAP, Tibco, and even Veeva Systems in the Life Sciences industry, all continue to focus and manage master data only. Many use them for a single customer domain, with product and other entities managed separately, if at all. Regardless, in all instances traditional MDM continues to be completely siloed from transaction and activity data, leaving the creation of a 360, and the interpretation of complex relationship and affiliations a separate effort.

Fortunately we have evolved. Modern data management platforms offer big data scale and agility with schema-less NoSQL graph databases. Business users can now get a universal (beyond just MDM) data-driven application (beyond just read-only, analytics views) to help them meet their business challenges.

The title of this post is largely rhetorical. So we didn't have to wait "33 Knight Rider years" for the MDM promise to be fulfilled. In fact expectations are high, we're now in an era where companies expect to go far beyond MDM. 

P.S. In three weeks, we will be hosting a workshop at the MDM Summit in San Francisco, where Reltio is sponsoring and exhibiting. If you are around, please stop by and share your thoughts.