What I Learned About Master Data Navigating the Champs-Élysées

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March 17 2020

I was riding a taxi in Paris recently where I experienced a moment I shall remember forever. It was both awe inspiring and yet terrified me to the very depths of my soul.

The driver took me down the Champs-Élysées and across the Arc de Triomphe… at rush hour.

Now, for those of you who have traversed this bit of road, you no doubt agree, when I say the first time you go through it is an experience that leaves an indelible mark. If you’ve not yet had the pleasure, then allow me to paint you a picture.

Imagine the busiest roundabout you’ve ever crossed. Then remove the traffic lights… the road markings… And finally, remove all signs.

Then put your foot down on the accelerator, hard, and approach it at a reckless speed. The result – a carnival horror ride that should be avoided at all costs… the arm rests in my taxi still have my fingernails imprinted in them.

But somehow, either by some unwritten rule or sheer blind luck, we got through, and I survived.

What I learned about master data navigating the Champs-Élysées


The crazy logic of the Champs-Élysées

The Champs-Élysées is a little like the approach many businesses take to managing their data.

A heady mix of data, from a range of sources, is ingested through tributaries to where it pools together. There it is massaged, manipulated and sent on its way to support one initiative or another. The data is not treated on its way. And there are no rules that govern where it comes from, how it’s to be organized, or any logical semblance of what it’s doing there in the first place.

This is compounded when you have many locations, with lots of functions with distinct needs – usually meaning data is coming from more than one CRM, ERP and other source systems. This results in multiple versions of customers, products lacking accurate information, inconsistent supplier data and many other headaches.

But, like the Champs-Élysées, through some crazy logic and reels of duct tape, somehow, it just about works. Though it’s also expensive to maintain, fraught with inaccuracies and never gives you a true picture of your data, which then makes it a continual battle to govern and extract value.

Fortunately, there is a better way.

Master data management gives you transparency

Add a roundabout – an MDM platform; paint some lines – a product data domain; throw in a traffic light or two – a customer data domain, etc., and you begin to create a semblance of order in the chaos. As a result, real value begins to shine through. Here’s how.

In the same way Parisian traffic would get to its destination faster with a little (or a lot) more order, MDM gives direction, and easy access, to your master data. And in much the same way there would be fewer accidents with a roundabout and the data at your disposal would contain far fewer problems.

You could also trust the insight it presented you. Insight you could then use to increase customer value, for example, personalized product offers they want (and you know will sell), at a location of their choice, exactly when they need it.

Data transparency is the route to value.


Mastering your data gives your customers more value

Customers today are infinitely more demanding than they used to be. They want products and services that match their individual needs. They refuse to be categorized. They want to be in control. And you have to work much harder to meet their needs.

Matching those needs starts with your data because it allows you to project outcomes with greater certainty. It allows you to zero in on critical trends and pain points. By doing so you may find yourself able to give them something more, perhaps something unexpected. Car insurance by the mile. A gift on a birthday. Coupons based on historical buying trends.

Things like these mean your customers will spend more money with you. They will refer you more often. And they will come back time and again. Effectively, one sale done well, results in many more sales down the line. But value only happens as a result of having control – and control begins with a foundation – and that foundation is MDM.

To find out more about putting a foundation of control down to help your company navigate whatever perilous twists and turns lie ahead, visit stibosystems.com.


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For two decades I’ve helped businesses find solutions to a variety of challenges. Today those challenges focus on how to extract value from your master data. If you want to talk about how to do this, and how you can develop a more inclusive data culture, please email me at michael.lonnon@stibosystems.com.



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