Wednesday, January 18, 2006

MDM Trends

In DM Review we see some "2006 predictions", something that journalists cannot resist doing each January, whatever the subject. In this case the article seems curiously limited to commonest about "customer". Certainly customer is an important example of master data, and indeed there are several products out there that specialize in this (so-called CDI products, like DWL, recently bought by IBM). However it is a common misapprehension that MDM is just about "customer" and "product". It is not. One of our customers, BP, uses KALIDO MDM to manage 350 different types of master data, of which just two are customer and product. Large companies also have to worry about the definitions of things like "price", "brand", "asset", "person", "organization", "delivery point", etc, and probably don;t want to buy one software product for each one.

MDM, as an emerging area, is particularly tricky to make predictions about. For what it is worth, I predict that in 2006:

1. There will be several more acquisitions in the space, as large vendors decide that they need to have an offering of some kind, if only to fend off competitive criticism or gaps on RFI checklists. However, caveat emptor here. The better products, like Trigo, have already been snapped up.
2. At least one analyst firm will publish some form of "MDM architecture" diagram that will attempt to classify MDM into different areas, in order to try and elevate that firm's perceived "thought leadership" on the issue.
3. There will be the first "MDM project disaster" headlines as early adopters begin to move from Powerpoint into more real project implementations. Inevitably, some will not go according to plan.
4. SAP MDME will prove as problematic as the original SAP MDM, which is down pushing up the daisies in a software cemetery near Walldorf. A2i was a poor choice as a platform for a general purpose MDM tool that SAP needs, and this realization will start to sink in when customers start to try it out.
5. Management consultancies, who until mid 2005 could not even spell master data management, will establish consulting practices offering slick Powerpoint slides and well-groomed bright young graduates to deliver "program management" around MDM, with impressive looking methodologies that they are so hot off the presses that the ink is barely dry.
They will purport to navigate a clear path through the maze of MDM technologies and will certainly not, in any way, be learning on the job at the client's expense.

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