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What lies ahead for customer master data management in 2017

By November 15, 2016Article

Across industries, organizations continue to struggle to identify and reconcile their customers at each point of contact. Now more than ever, organizations are depending on Customer Master Data Management (CMDM) solutions as a prerequisite for driving their digital business and will look to these evolving capabilities to meet the new requirements. 

2017 Prediction #1: Unstructured data will be handled by CMDM applications in real time to enable the creation of a dynamic 360-degree view in 2017. 

A solid social media strategy is widely recognized as a tool for customer empowerment that is not only vital to cultivating personalization and loyalty but also is an expectation from consumers and a line item on most annual budgets. In fact, according to Gartner, a growing number of firms are, and will be, looking to expand their MDM programs by adding unstructured data (such as metadata and objects), additional application-specific data, social data and/or other data domains. 

Data about customers in your system (aka first-party data) is different than third-party data, which can be found from social sources and/or data partners such as Experian and Acxiom. This third-party data brings challenges because organizations must gather this unstructured data and match it to existing data to obtain a complete understanding of their customer. However, these customer views can’t be harnessed in real time, and “near real time” is simply not going to be an acceptable standard. 

Therefore, making real-time insight is critical to achieving a customer 360-degree strategy as well as facilitating better decision making for nearly every area of the business including in-store, e-commerce, campaigns and others. CMDM applications will be used to address this challenge in 2017. 

2017 Prediction #2: Applications built on top of Customer MDM will be created and integrated with big data applications to provide customers with a better understanding of their customer ecosystems in 2017. 

Data volumes continue to grow, creating an overabundance of information that can render the data unorganized or, worse yet, useless. 

As organizations grapple with the volume, velocity and variety demands of big data, they must keep their focus on what they want to accomplish and make sure the data needed to make these decisions is reliable. Big data applications that do not rely directly on CMDM will not yield the necessary useful analytics or results without being served clean data, which is, after all, the key role of CMDM. 

Managing big data applications correctly can enhance the customer’s journey and boost sales by delivering the right message at the right time across all channels. To accomplish this, CMDM will evolve in 2017 to meet the changing technology landscape in several ways:

  • CMDM applications will come pre-built with connectors for reading/writing data out from open source data stores such as MongoDB and Hadoop.
  • Master Data Management solutions will continue to be the source of truth and will serve as a logical starting point for big data analysis. Master data is the high-value, core information used to support critical business processes and typically includes information about customers, suppliers, partners, products, materials and employees.
  • Companies considering utilizing big data applications need to have a full MDM strategy. MDM applications will serve as the backbone of big data applications, and those applications will supplement big data streams, which will enable an organization to gain better analysis and more accurate insights. 

2017 Prediction #3: Enterprise, multi-tenant CMDM solutions in the cloud will continue to improve and begin to be adopted in 2017 and beyond. 

Businesses of all sizes and in many industries struggle to maintain a consistent, shareable and accurate single version of customer data across their organizations. And the requirement will continue to grow in importance in 2017 and beyond. 

With an increasing focus on understanding the customer more holistically in real time and providing a true and reliable omnichannel experience to the end customer, the desire to configure MDM offerings as easily as some of the data quality tools will be of utmost importance. Organizations will require the solution to go live in weeks instead of months/years and will expect CMDM solutions to be deployed in the cloud with a heavy focus towards business users. 

Today, nearly all MDM solutions are deployed on premises largely because most commercially available MDM platforms are either not mature enough, lack the processing power or do not offer enough incentives from a technology perspective to migrate to a cloud solution. 

However, in the next few years, CMDM solutions will become readily available in the cloud for transactional data such as automatic free trial signups, paying via credit card, paying per use, etc.; and the expectation will be to configure the solution instead of investing heavily in developing multiple components. Additionally, business users will be able to configure a significant number of MDM deployment aspects that used to require involving a development or consulting resource today. 

Because everything that surrounds Customer Master Data Management has already achieved a solid maturity state, customers will soon push vendors to bring to market more mature, business-user centric and enterprise-grade MDM offerings in the cloud. 

Cloud-based deployments will more equally match on-premises deployments in the next five years. They will most certainly increase in 2017, but not for a few years will they finally equal their on-prem counterparts as there are still security, performance and solution-maturity aspects that will take a few more years to sort out. 

Todd Callen is the executive vice president of sales and marketing for Stibo Systems, the global leader in multidomain Master Data Management (MDM) solutions. For more information, contact him at






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