Master-domain-management (MDM) software was only available in single-domain formats for many years. But the technology has evolved a great deal in the last ten years. As a result, most of the newer MDM platforms have multiple-domain capabilities. In fact, most manufacturers of MDM software are gradually shifting in that direction.
Master data is the lifeblood of most manufacturing companies. After all, those companies can't conduct their day-to-day business without basic records on customers, products, suppliers, employees, locations, assets, and additional details. Across virtually every industry, the volume of operational information is rising exponentially in both size and complexity, and organizations are struggling to keep pace.
To make matters worse, in most organizations such operational information is duplicated and scattered across multiple systems and applications. As it evolves independently on these different systems, the data becomes subject to errors and can prevent decision-makers from maintaining a unified view of operational intelligence. The disparate information also prevents customers from getting the accurate and timely information they need to make purchasing decisions.
In fact, most transactional data is linked in some way to master data. As a result, missing data, low-quality information, and untrustworthy or inaccurate records have an impact on revenue, productivity, costs, compliance, agility and decision-making. Therefore, proactively managing this master-level information as it flows through the organization is essential for improving business performance.
Comparing Two Approaches
Multidomain MDM is a software solution that manages multiple types of master data in one repository. For single-domain MDM approaches, each major type of master data (such as customer data, product information, supplier records, etc.) has its own unique data store and business logic.
Common sense might indicate that when trying to build a "single version of the truth," a multidomain MDM approach would get there faster. If pulling together related master data from different parts of the company, it's simpler and less expensive to store the "golden records" related to customers, products, suppliers, employees, assets, and locations — the "people, places, and things" of master data" — in one seamless technology stack.
But that's not how the MDM industry evolved. The first implementations of master data management were known as "Customer Data Integration" (CDI), which dealt with customer data, and "Product Information Management" (PIM), which concerned product data. Some workers still refer to these older terms for MDM tools as CDI and PIM.
MDM Software Market
The MDM software industry is divided into categories and includes mega-vendors, best-of breed companies, and startup companies. For first-time buyers of MDM solutions, the vendor selection process can be daunting. While the concept of MDM is not new, it's a rapidly evolving marketplace that has become crowded with "me-too" applications and a blur of sameness when it comes to marketing messages and positioning. A handful of MDM vendors make similar promises and claim comparable feature sets, but it is important to understand that there are difference in MDM approaches.
For instance, single-domain MDM solutions tend to be from the mega-vendors while multidomain MDM solutions are typically from the other categories of suppliers. The reason for this is that the larger vendors started developing their solutions prior to 2004. They have since acquired other companies with different MDM technologies, and are slowly integrating them. While the larger vendors are gradually shifting to more of an emphasis on multidomain MDM, the smaller vendors have generally designed multidomain capability into their first offerings, or have pivoted from being a CDI or PIM provider to offering multidomain MDM solutions.
Benefits of Multidomain MDM
Proactively managing operational information as it flows through a business requires a full-cycle, multidomain approach. Integrating all operating and multichannel units and linking all types of information together into one management platform helps manufacturing executives receive accurate information as it develops. As a result, company executives receive the information they need to impact revenue, lower operational costs, reduce risks, and enhance company manufacturing agility.
The main benefits of multidomain MDM tools are the following.
- They are more cost-effective than single-domain MDM software tools, since the platform can be implemented in a single instance. The use of multidomain MDM software also avoids the redundant cost, training and maintenance that result from managing numerous data silos.
- They are easier to maintain, with a simpler architecture, unified governance, and better analytics than single-domain MDM tools. In contrast, single data silos act as barriers to unified definitions, standard handling of common reference data, and unified governance practices, and processes that allow correlating critical information.
- Multidomain MDM tools can proactively manages operational information as it flows through the business, yielding cross-functional collaboration and overall performance improvements. The worst outcome of using a single-domain MDM application is that it can defeat the entire purpose of using MDM software, which is to enable an integrated view of the enterprise's most critical information as it flows into the processes that drive the business and decision-making.
- Multidomain MDM tools are designed to minimize failures due to the use of MDM software. A multidomain MDM platform provides a single technology stack for managing data, rather than distinct, uncoordinated approaches to separate master data domains (built on multiple technology stacks).
The growth of multidomain MDM software has kept pace with the enterprise-wide data needs of global manufacturing companies. Single-domain MDM solutions don't really address today's business problems, which almost always span more than one master data domain. As a result, trying to receive an accurate view of this information from an MDM hub originally designed for a single domain can be challenging.
A single, enterprise-wide data model for master data provides a simpler architecture. Unified governance is made possible by a single data quality foundation, with a single set of business rules and user interface. Better analytics are achieved once the master data from the multidomain MDM hub is combined with the transactional data from the CRM and ERP systems, and then made available through a data warehouse or business intelligence solution. A multidomain MDM solution supports cross-functional collaboration and improves performance because everyone in the enterprise is working from the same underlying data (probably for the first time), and employees aren't wasting time every month reconciling multiple sets of redundant master data.
One of the main purposes of MDM is to break down silos within the company, not to increase the number of them. Certainly, senior management at a company would not be pleased if the firm had implemented multiple, disconnected master data efforts, rather than a unified, multidomain platform. The disconnected master data efforts would be difficult to explain and could also result in the failure of an MDM project.
Many companies struggle with the speed of change in today's business world. Mergers and acquisitions are an almost-constant fact of life in today's business world, new technologies emerge to disrupt current business models, and business executives are placed in difficult positions by increasingly competitive pressures to grow revenues and cut costs. Fortunately, multidomain MDM software offers a solution that helps manufacturers respond to the pressures to eliminate, simplify, standardize, and automate different segments of their businesses. In the process, the use of multidomain MDM solutions can help manufacturers regain their competitive advantages.
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