In which Jill wonders whether the days of "If You Build It, They Will Come" have returned, and has a crisis of conscience in the process.
Much of Baselineâ€™s client work lately has been in the area of MDM and CDI planning. Some clients have launched formal assessment activites, while others have embarked on initial implementation projects. Several have already been successful and are turning their heads toward whatâ€™s next.
Iâ€™ve asked a few of the latter group how they managed to sell the idea of master data management to their executives. After all, itâ€™s an often complex concept, an intermingling of business rules management, new governance processes, and disruptive technology. MDM is a difficult pitch.
To my surprise, some never made that pitch. â€śWe just built it,â€ť one IT executive recently told me. â€śAnd they came.â€ť
Heresy! Build it and they will come? This is a knife in the heart of enterprise IT program managers everywhere! Whereâ€™s the rigor? Whereâ€™s the end-user involvement? Where are the JAD sessions? If I were near an oven, Iâ€™d stick my head in it.
The â€śjust build itâ€ť mentality is anathema to those of us with background in enterprise IT programs like data warehouses and CRM, where business requirements can mean the difference between a successful deployment and a doomed one. Iâ€™ve spent the better part of my career helping companies build structured and rigorous requirements-gathering processes that serve as insurance policies against project failure. I donâ€™t know much, but I consider myself a requirements-gathering specialist. Defining business requirements is art and science, and itâ€™s critical to enterprise projects.
But for MDM, particularly CDI projects that reconcile important customer reference data, often for the first time, itâ€™s been different. The automated matching and deliberate deployment of customer data is seen by many companies as an â€śinfrastructureâ€ť investment. CDI hubs provide harmonized, integrated, authoritative customer details to a range of applications and systems. End-users and managers might not even know youâ€™ve added a hub. Theyâ€™ll just start getting better data faster and think youâ€™ve done something brilliant.
So why are some MDM pioneers getting away with just building it? Two words: capital expenditure. CDI solutions are often a fraction of the cost of other, enterprise-class IT solutions. They fit in with many IT departmentsâ€™ discretionary spending, and can be deployed using agile programming techniques that are perfect for functional (not business) applications. Moreover, they can pay for themselves in fairly short order. If you knew the impact that operationally integrated customer data would have on your business, wouldnâ€™t you just build one too?
Posted January 29, 2007 12:14 PM
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