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An Industry Shift for Master Data Management at Summit NYC

If you missed it, the premier industry event for master data management (MDM) in NYC took place this week, with attendees from all over the globe. The event was well attended but for many attendees, the information they were seeing was anything but business as usual.

In among the traditional sessions on master data management fundamentals, case studies and master reference data, there was a decidedly different tone to the event. 

Interest was high on graph databases, end-business user trust and access to the information through data-driven applications, and how modern data management platforms were now providing master data management as a core foundation, upon which big data, transactions, analytics and machine learning are fully integrated.

Here are some highlights:

The “Godfather of MDM” Aaron Zornes kicked things off, describing the new strategies and elements at this year’s summit. He highlighted graph databases, temporal and big data particularly as trends.



Neil Cowburn and Robert Quinn of iMiDiA delivered a lunchtime keynote describing how a modern data management platform was used for multi-billion dollar mergers and acquisitions (M&A)

He described how IT teams can now cope with data across hundreds of sources (e.g. over 96 SAP instances!) and increasing volume, variety and velocity, while managing veracity. Modern Data Management techniques were applied in an M&A use case where data collection, tracking of changes & control access were accelerated at minimal cost. And how all capabilities used for pre-merger analysis were available for post-merger competitive advantage. Attendees learned how to:

  • Leverage & enhance Master Data scope – entity overlap & cross-entity relationships
  • Support enrichment to enable the combined business teams to get more value out of the master data
  • Syndicate master data to existing operational applications & analytic platforms – all while supporting a single point of governance
  • Follow a methodology to work with the people and processes needed to co-exist with existing legacy MDM tools, while making the move to a modern data management platform

Vivian Wu of AbbVie presented as part of the Reltio sponsored virtual pharma track. She described how the limitations of a legacy and traditional MDM tool led them to select a modern data management platform. 

AbbVie used an incremental approach to deliver relevant insights while creating reliable data that could be shared company wide. Their modern data management included master data, transaction, social and third-party data delivered through mobile and desktop data-driven business applications that improve the productivity of their frontline business users every day.

Attendees learned how:

  • A cloud-based modern data management platform was selected & how it co-exists with existing systems/applications
  • Data quality can be continuously approved, while seamlessly segmenting & analyzing information
  • To plan to start small & expand to limitless possibilities company-wide 

In a particularly poignant slide she described how companies should insist that their third party data providers provide on demand subscription-based data-as-a-service functionality. She likened the current batch list method of acquiring and loading data as extremely dated and inefficient. 

Data providers used to ask us for a sample list of our data, upon which they would then deliver to us the list back of records either augmented with additional info, or some newer records that meet the same criteria.
If you think about it that’s like me walking into a clothing department store, and the salesperson asking me to show him/her my wardrobe and then telling me that these are the clothes that they have to offer me.
I want the full browse, preview experience and the freedom to see and try all the clothes in the store. I want that same experience with data for my business users.

Michelle Goetz, principal analyst at Forrester delivered a keynote that emphasized that business users need to trust their data. And the best way to provide that trust is to give them access to the data, as quickly as possible. And to accept their feedback and input in a collaborative manner. 

Unlike retroactive reports and analytics, data-driven operational applications are one of the best ways to provide this capability, in conjunction with their daily business activities.

Darius Kemeklis of Google presented a session on graph databases and MDM. 

He described how graph databases offer tremendous potential to model and analyze complex relationships inherent in the real world. He pointed out that many enterprises are increasingly considering graphs as a pre-requisite for their MDM strategy.  He provided a foundational tutorial answering questions such as “Is Graph a Concept or Storage Technology?”

Attendees also learned:

  • From successful industry–wide & industry-specific examples of Graph use cases – Darius showed Reltio’s commercial graph as a prime example
  • Where Graph & MDM intersect
  • Key concepts such as building and visualizing graph schemas 

Overall the event represented an industry shift in traditional MDM philosophy. Attendees were definitely evaluating and considering modern data management techniques, and looking to collaborate with business teams to gain their trust, and get their input into continuous data quality through data-driven applications.

From my perspective it was great to old friends and make new ones. We had fun giving away Big Data Lake Crocs and talking data. See you at the next event!