Today’s forward-leaning manufacturing companies are very agile and they’re making investments in their IT infrastructure. They’re investing in more applications and systems inside the firewall and lots of applications are being run in the cloud. Now, instead of having that old mainframe application that they ran their manufacturing process on, they have tens of applications where data is spread across and they all have strategic roles on what those applications do with their data.
Because of all of these applications, there is often redundant or missing data in, for example, customer lists. Customer lists might be in a manufacturers’ Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, accounting package, CRM type system, etc. There may be different ways of codifying a customer within the organization. There might also be different ports and analytics. It all equates to a big data mess.
Some people thought that simply having a data warehouse would solve this type of master data challenge. And data warehousing is an answer for some—it’s always helpful to have your analytics in one place—but what if this data is in such a poor state and needs treatment?
Enter Master Data Management (MDM). MDM tools and systems help cleanse and ensure the governance of that data. These tools have approval workflows and permissions built into them to ensure only the right changes are being made to the record. It creates a central repository for all the domain-type data that’s important to the organization.
MDM Solves Manufacturer’s Data Quality Issues
When we talk to manufacturers about their information processes and data management, we always ask if they have a MDM strategy. If we’re doing any kind of data integration, data warehousing or Business Intelligence (BI) type projects, we almost require that MDM be put into place alongside because it will guarantee the success of those projects.
BDO Digital has implemented a number of MDM solutions with manufacturers and because so many of them have Microsoft SQL Server, the MDM capability is already there; the solutions are pre-bundled with their SQL server product. It’s just a matter of us going in there and making the necessary configurations.
MDM’s Impact on Manufacturers
MDM is still very new for manufacturing clients, but it has been very impactful for them.
When we have MDM conversations, it’s an easy concept for them to understand. I wish every software solution was as easy to demonstrate value and provide immediate impact. You just don’t see that with other software products. Many times you hear horror stories of how long it takes to implement a new ERP solution, whereas MDM can be done very tactically.
There are instances where we went in and in less than a month we put it in place to do something tactically and provided immediate ROI.
The Future of MDM on the Manufacturing Industry
Looking to the future, I think the most challenging aspects of doing MDM are data integration, the linking up of applications to this model and setting up the subscriptions. I see that becoming easier to do and I feel like it’s going to be like buying an app off the App Store. It’s going to get easier to integrate your applications to the MDM strategy without having to write as much code or do so much data integration testing. It’s going to be more of a service.
Manufacturers have a huge opportunity with MDM to map and manage data across multiple applications, organize data into multiple models and versions, and create cleaned, consistent data that is available to different users.
We are just scratching the surface of what manufacturing can do with MDM.