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Show Me (and let me Act on) the Data! The Days of Master Data Only Reports are Numbered

For over 10 years master data has been locked away in MDM tools with limited visibility of the profile and state of the data. Even the data stewards, tasked with the manual resolution through workflow queues have had poor feedback from traditional tools as to the state of their most important asset. MDM vendors’ general response to this challenge has been either to:

  1. Expose the hub metadata through a published model and to allow customers to “roll their own insights” via BI tools such as Microstrategy and Business Objects

  2. Leave it to the users to export the data out to a separate data mart or warehouse, or worse excel spreadsheets for review

Typically the lag and latency associated with analyzing the data quality is of concern, since an agile organization has data continuously coming into the system. Like the painting of the Golden Gate bridge, the work is never done. When you reach one end point, you just turn around and start again. 

Furthermore, narrowing efforts to focus on the data that needs the most attention has always been a challenge. There is only so much manual effort that can be applied as resources and expertise are limited.

Being able to quickly filter and see data issues, or have the system provide the alerts and recommended actions is a capability that is available in today’s modern data management Platform as a Service (PaaS). And since all of this should be running in a multi-tenant cloud, using a browser-based and mobile interface, any filtering and creation of lists of data can easily be stored as a URL and shared with colleagues for collaboration.

While traditional MDM vendors are trying to incorporate this level of functionality and basic reporting, most companies have moved on.


Companies expect not only in line insights and reporting directly from within the tool, they now want access for frontline business users. Not just so they can see the quality of data for themselves, but to allow them to make changes, offer suggestions, and comments at the point of engagement. 

These capabilities can only be found in a new generation of data-driven applications. They provide complete transparency as to the quality of the data, feature complete social collaboration and curation functionality at scale, as well as allowing third party data to augment and replenish gaps in quality in real-time via Data as a Service (DaaS). In other words, reporting is nice, but action speaks louder than reports.

Another reason why reporting on just master data is limiting, is the increased demand to have not just customer entities, but product, organization and other entities and affiliations to provide the big picture. Additionally all related transaction and interaction data are required to be more closely tied into profiles, hence the continuing requirement to create data marts and warehouses.

So merely improving the reporting capabilities of the MDM tool is necessary but not sufficient. Frontline business users want operational execution and the ability to immediately correct or provide input about the data from the same interface they are using for their daily operations, not just the ability to retroactively get reports about the data. Better still, the system should have the smarts to provide recommended actions in the context of workflow to guide both business users and data stewards as to what to do next. Or to take action on their behalf.

With all the amazing modern data management technology available, your company should expect and get more by going beyond just MDM, by providing your business teams with fully integrated data-driven applications. The next time someone offers to “Show you the data!”, ask them whether you can do something about it together as a team.