Nitin Anubhaw
Business Consultant, Capability-RCG,
Tech Mahindra

The modern marketplace demands the gathering, use, and maintenance of data. Without the use of data, a business misses out on powerful opportunities to grow and thrive. The most successful enterprises today employ master data management (MDM) to boost customer engagement and make their businesses more relevant to a growing online and offline clientele.

What is Master Data Management?

Master data management is a process that enables businesses to establish a uniform set or sets of data on their business’s most relevant entities. These are their customers, their products, the suppliers, and other entities that matter to their operations. MDM allows businesses to gather data from different IT systems.

Why is Master Data Management Important?

MDM is important because it helps businesses improve the quality of the data, they gather by using the proper identifiers and other key elements that lend accuracy and consistency to the enterprise-wide process.

Business intelligence (BI) and analytics are two of the biggest drivers of customer engagement today. They also sustain supply chain management (SCM) and other processes in many successful businesses. However, without clear insights into customers, businesses still face huge challenges when it comes to engagement and conversion. It is not easy to have a clear view of customers because customer data from one system might be different from another. Variations in names, locations, and other attributes can be present in different systems. The same can be true about products and other business entities that contribute to gathered data.

To address this problem, master data management programs consolidate data gathered from different systems and render the data into a single format that is easier to view and understand. Harmonizing the data leads to unified sets of data for customers, products, and others, and the consolidated and more accurate data can be used in all applicable systems.

Businesses can remove duplicate records and provide those involved in operations and data analysts a complete view of every customer, product, supplier, etc., eliminating the need to manually piece together different entries, saving time, and making engagement efforts more cohesive and effective.

Apart from improving the accuracy of BI, boosting operational efficiency, and helping analytics applications, master data management can also aid a business’s compliance with certain regulatory mandates. Some examples include the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and others.

Why is Security an Integral Part of Data Gathering and Management?

While data is powerful in enabling businesses, without the right security systems in place, data can be compromised. Data-driven enterprises must be prepared to protect their data from breaches, phishing, cyber-attacks, and more. Some industries are more at risk of data breaches than others. For example: healthcare organizations and financial services. Without proper security systems and processes, data is exposed to hackers and other criminal elements.

Can MDM Support Security Efforts?

The good news is yes, master data management can help boost data security -- but only if the data is managed by the right people. There are many steps an organization can take to make sure its data is protected, but here are some of the most important and effective contributions of MDM to security efforts:

Identify the Data That Should Be Secured - While it is important to keep all data protected from attacks, some data is more crucial to a business’s success than others. To protect such data, the organization should make sure it is using up-to-date and accurate information, which can be provided by MDM. Having dispersed data makes it more challenging to protect said data from breaches. Those authorized to gather and use the company’s data should always be aware of where the data is, and that it is not easily accessed by anyone without authorization.

Ensure the Cleanliness of Data Sources - To come up with effective and usable data, the data sources should be clean and accurate, which means users should have a dashboard for checking whatever data they have gathered. To support this, user authentication is a crucial part of master data management. To protect certain data, user authorization should be implemented. And anyone who views, uses, or touches the data in any shape or form should appear on an access log with timestamps. Any suspicious or unsafe activity should trigger an alert and immediate security measures.

Data Should Not Bog Down Processes - With MDM, data use is easier, faster, and more streamlined. This means users are not slowed down. When data comes from different sources, and duplication and wrong information must be identified and eradicated on the spot, users cannot use data as quickly as they should, which can affect processes. Without proper MDM, the organization is also at risk of using erroneous information.

Master Data Management Should Fall Under Data Governance Policies - Making sure that data is not exposed to parties that are trying to gain access to achieve more if the organization’s MDM is directly under data governance policies. Such policies help businesses determine which users are given access to specific data, making policing more straightforward. Data governance can also help identify potential data vulnerabilities and implement security measures to eliminate such vulnerabilities.

In choosing a master data management vendor, an organization should make sure it supports comprehensive security tactics and approaches that cover cyber security, application, and data centric controls. Such approaches should also enable authorized users to access information fast without being slowed down by security applications.

When master data management efforts work, an organization can fully leverage the information they have for gathering leads, engaging with customers, making conversions, and more. Effective MDM also boosts security efforts, helping protect the business from breaches, delays, legal troubles, and reputational damage.

About the Author

Nitin Anubhaw
Business Consultant, Capability-RCG, Tech Mahindra

Nitin is a Six Sigma Green Belt certified professional and holds an MBA. He has over 12 years of experience in operations, people management, client management, process management, robotics process automation, NPS, data/service delivery, KPI-CTQ and CTP, compliance and audit, and efficiency and utilisation.