Master data as the foundation of digital transformation

What is Master Data, why is it so crucial for businesses, and how can you talk to stakeholders about it? Profisee, a leading Master Data Management (MDM) company, invited Scott Taylor, The Data Whisperer, to share his expertise in this area.

Below is a detailed outline of the webinar.

Martin Boyd, VP of Product Marketing at Profisee

  • Master data is the foundation not just for digital transformation, but all manner of enterprise wide state of management.
  • Without data that synchronises you can have all the plumbing and ETL and data lakes but the data won’t make a lot of sense unless you use master data to hold it all together. You can’t get to business transformation and building business benefit.
  • Profisee is an MDM company which offers multi-domain MDM and can implement multiple styles.
  • Implementing MDM is a journey. Once you start, you continue with more opportunities to expand the value you deliver.
  • An analyst company The Information Difference did a survey of customers from different MDM vendors last summer. They concluded Profisee customers were the happiest of all the MDM vendors.

Scott Taylor, The Data Whisperer

4:00 Introducing Scott

  • The challenges and aspirations, value, hurdles are more the same than they are different in this foundational data space.
  • I am a master data advocate who helps people gain an appreciation for the most important data out there – master data. It’s not just about telling stories with data, but about your data – why data is so important to your organisation.
  • I have been in the master data space for 20 years. My parents told me I didn’t build with LEGO, I sorted LEGO. So if you do that too, that explains why you are in the data space.


9:30 Definition of Master Data

  • In Wikipedia: “Master Data is a single source of common business data used across multiple systems, applications, and/or processes.” I wrote it so don’t touch it!


10:42 Everything you touch turns to data

  • As your business process goes from analogue to digital, everything turns to data. Every enterprise is struggling to make sense of it – how to find the truth and derive meaning to grow, improve, protect their business.
  • Instead of creating a lot of insight, this data creates a ton of chaos. How do you cut through and find value in the sea of data?
  • How do you convince people this is happening, and the stakes are higher now? Data is hotter now than it has ever been. How do we get value out of this?


11:55 What is digital transformation

  • Digital transformation can mean a lot of things to a lot of people.
  • It clearly is a combination of people, process, tech and data. 
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Master data as the foundation of digital transformation | QMetrix

  • We will talk about the data. For every enterprise wherever they are on the journey, they have more data than before and have to come up with new ways to do things they’ve never dreamt of before.

12:50 Why you need master data

  • Master data is your most important data. It’s the data in charge of your business.
  • If you have trouble doing a report it’s likely because your master data is not very good. Or you’ve hired data scientists but they spend a lot of time wrangling data instead of analysing. A lot of the time it’s because your master data isn’t very good.
  • When you can create a seamless customer experience in the right place in the right time in the right context with permission, it’s because of master data.
  • It’s the most important data, but most organisations don’t even know it exists.
  • When you explain it, use business nouns: customers, vendors, partners, prospects, brands, products, services, offerings. It’s about the relationships of your business. The data about those relationships is absolutely critical.


15:15 What are your data priorities?

  • At the top level, your data priorities are:

  • Got to do the truth first before you derive meaning. If you don’t, you run into the golden rule of data: Garbage In, Garbage Out. Do unto your data as you would have it do unto you. How about Goodness In, Goodness Out.


Master data as the foundation of digital transformation | QMetrix

16:35 Master data is macro trend agnostic

  • You can’t get there – Internet of Things, Account-Based Marketing, Artificial Intelligence, Data Privacy Regulations, M&A – without Master Data.
  • If your stakeholders are talking about any of these things, remind them they can’t get there or scale without master data.


20:00 How to articulate this to stakeholders

  • Use the right words so stakeholders will support you and can explain it to others too.
  • If you need to grow and improve and protect your business – Master Data can do all three.
  • Structured data works harder than unstructured data. If you’ve got good structure and segmentation, you will get a lot more done. Part of what makes big data big is its lack of structure. When you can structure it, you can do things with it.
  • Good decisions made on bad data, are just bad decisions you don’t know about yet.


Master data as the foundation of digital transformation | QMetrix

21:56 Master data is the foundation of digital transformation

  • There are 3 phases of digital transformation. It is almost a linear process.

      1. Legacy state: You have multiple silos that don’t talk to each other. It’s not about old software. It is a legacy state in terms of the inability to connect. You are not an integrated enterprise.
      2. Integrated enterprise: You move to being relationship centric – you want your relationships to be integrated so you can give more value. That’s only within your own environment.
      3. Trust network: Going beyond your own environment, how do I operate with other entities and get people to buy what I make? You need standards.

  • The universal requirements to move from one to another is an authentic identity and common data structure so machines can talk to other machines.


Master data as the foundation of digital transformation | QMetrix

  • This is the state many companies are in: You have different departments and regions, more third parties etc. so it becomes multiple systems and workflows which create disparate data with differing definitions that lack internal standards.
  • The common solution is master data. It is the foundation across all the different silos. Talk to everyone, get a common language to help propagate it across your enterprise.

28:00 Example of naked data

  • One company had 275 configurations of the “7-11” name. You think the software is going to fix it on its own, but it won’t. Garbage in, garbage out.

Master data as the foundation of digital transformation | QMetrix

31:20 How to structure your data and relationships

  • Boil it down to the 4Cs of Master Data

      1. Code: Some sort of unique identifier like a salesforce ID or SAP number
      2. Company: Have some hierarchy, some parent-child relationship. It drives a lot of reporting.
      3. Category: Have some sort of segmentation. It drives market share analysis, targeting.
      4. Country: Have some form of geography eg, measurement market, zip code, city.

  • Once you have these, you’ll know where something is, what kind of thing it is, who knows it, and you’ll know it is unique. Then all kinds of data problems go away.

Master data as the foundation of digital transformation | QMetrix

35:10 The 5 pillars of master data

  1. Value: What is the business relevance? How does the data help you make decisions at scale and go much faster?
  2. Structure: Does it have a standardised structure?
  3. Connectability: Can it go across your entire ecosystem?
  4. Coverage: Does it cover your entire business?
  5. Quality: This is the most subjective thing on this page. Quality is important but don’t start there – if an executive has to choose between data quality and product quality they think data quality should be a done thing so they focus on product quality.


39:00 How do you put this data to work?

  • We want to build relationships with customers, suppliers, services etc. Relationships mean you have a business.
  • As a base you need these:

      • Validate: Is this business safe to work with? Have we worked with them before? The earlier you do that, the less problems you will have later.
      • Integrate: Take the data, integrate and make it accessible to the people who need it.
      • Aggregate: Roll stuff up. Aggregation drives most reporting eg, how are we doing with our top markets.
      • Interoperate: How to work with your customers.

  • Do those, then you can evaluate (do BI, analytics, AI, ML) – as long as it is fed with the right kind of trusted content.
  • Then you can communicate. Use the data and content to develop relationships. Do people trust it? Do they walk in a meeting and have the same numbers and see the same thing?
  • Then you can relate.
  • Continue to circulate. Data in motion has value – it can’t be stuck in a PDF. Master data enables the circulation of data to get it to decision making.


43:40 Deeper interoperability gives you greater value

  • Master data as the foundation of digital transformation provides the semantic consistency that enables deeper interoperability that creates deeper value.
  • You must determine the truth first before you derive meaning:

  • Master data can change the nature of your business to deliver tangible goods, find more insights, be more predictive and get more of an edge across your competitors. Use data to do it.

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