April 17, 2012 // By: Heather McIlvaine
From customer and employee information, to product lists and supplier profiles, organizations depend on master data to carry out crucial tasks across many lines of business. The accuracy of this data, therefore, is paramount to a company’s efficiency, compliance, and its bottom line. But gaining a single view of master data is easier said than done.
Whenever a new system is integrated, like after a merger, master data must be added, matched up, and consolidated into the existing system. Even within one company, some data, such as customer information, is used by several lines of business. If there are even slight variations in the data – using Mike instead of Michael or Inc instead of Co – the system ends up with multiple, inconsistent versions of the same record. And it makes business process efficiency, reporting, and analytics impossible. On top of these challenges, cloud computing, big data, social media, and other technology trends are presenting further obstacles.
Companies that deploy their business applications in the cloud face the same difficulties in cleansing and consolidating data as their on-premise peers, but they have the added complication of bridging their data to the on-premise world. The increase in big data and social media data, on the other hand, offers organizations the chance to create much richer customer profiles by linking up social media information with master data. However, if the business system contains duplicate customer records, companies won’t experience the benefits of integrating this additional data.
The answer to these problems is master data management (MDM). Based on a set of policies for data creation, replication, aggregation, reconciliation, and consolidation, MDM technology enables businesses processes to adhere to rules, ensuring continuous data quality. For many leading organizations, this discipline forms the foundation for their information governance programs. SAP currently offers two ways for companies to manage their master data: the SAP Master Data Governance application and the SAP NetWeaver Master Data Management (SAP NetWeaver MDM) component.
Soon, companies will also have a third option for master data management. The planned innovation, project code name SAP Master Data Services, will support high velocity integration of master data for scenarios such as Customer Data Integration. SAP Master Data Services will be powered by SAP HANA, and will also embed SAP Data Services and Information Steward. The first release will focus on Customer Data Integration, allowing organizations to enrich their customer data across on-premise data as well as cloud-based data and social media data. It is planned for release in the second half of 2012.
On the following pages, we’ll give you an overview of the new offering and take a look at the innovations planned for SAP’s existing solutions for master data management.