Is there a new face to Master Data Management (MDM)? MDM

At this point, Master Data Management (MDM) can be considered a fairly robust and mature technology. Born out of address verification software vendors, the idea of creating a customer master has been around for a while and countless organizations depend on de-duplication and survivorship algorithms for customer interactions. In our view, CRM, relationship marketing, one-to-one marketing, personalization, customer experience, or whatever you call your customer programs cannot exist without customer master technologies. With the maturity of the current vendor suites, it was inevitable that a new group of startup vendors have begun to invade the territory to upset the incumbents.

Clients are evolving their definition of master data management and what are the required pieces of functionality. MDM buyers are asking:

>  How can I have different attributes for different master records?
>  How can I have very different rules for different kinds of customer (or other domains)?
>  Can the application help figure out the rules for mastering & survivorship through artificial intelligence (AI)?
>  How does Data Governance fit into the equation?
>  How can we implement an MDM solution faster?

To meet these sophisticated requirements and the hurdles that organizations are putting in front of them, legacy MDM vendors are scrambling to find solutions. While newer vendors to the space are able to re-architect solutions from the ground up. AmberLeaf sees the following new categories of requirements coming out of the MDM space.

Variability. From more and more clients we are hearing about the need for increased flexibility in all facets of MDM. What does that mean? Organizations need variability in the attributes required for each record. Some records require an opt-in and some don’t. They need variability in the types of relationships from record to record. A recent healthcare client of ours had requirements where certain types of providers require a medical specialty while others do not. They need variability in the match rules. Some records require a third-party id match (like NPI in healthcare), and some records do not. Relational databases and legacy MDM applications are having trouble with variability and flexibility. Organizations are taking a harder look at graph databases and alternative technologies to full fill these complex and dynamic requirements.

Machine Learning. If you are like me, I have heard enough about machine learning and artificial intelligence. I have no idea how a vendor who did not have machine learning technology a month ago, now has sophisticated AI applications. However, the applications for machine learning is very real in the MDM space. The hardest part of MDM project is determining the rules and the algorithms for survivorship and matching. Whereas data profiling was all the rage just 12 months ago (the most notable best practice for MDM projects), machine learning can now help us infer the rules based on training sets that will save us all time and bunches of money. Recommendations for thresholds, the right fields, the right elasticity, and the right combinations will help us define the right match and merge rules.

Data Governance. Every MDM application provides lip service to data governance processes and functionality; some applications address it more effectively and contain a deeper understanding the true goals of Data Governance. Reference Data Management, workflow, issue management, data dictionary, and triage are no longer allowed to be isolated functionality. The deeper the integration with MDM software the better. New age MDM applications provide more than just match, split, and verification functionality, but instead really instill the essence of data quality: monitoring, measurement, processes, and correction.

MDM is changing. New technologies are providing flexibility that is tough to match in today’s environment. The new competitive landscape will focus on flexibility and data governance.  Want more info about these new solutions and their pros/cons?  Reach out to us here to continue the conversation.

AmberLeaf ( combines strong business and operational planning with innovative technology solutions to ensure our client base serves the right customers in the right ways to generate the greatest return. To learn more about how we can help your company improve customer experience, contact us at 312.474.6120, or