VisionWare, a UK-based Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, is strengthening ties with its partners in South Africa to further drive adoption of master data management (MDM) technologies. Microsoft Gold certified partner, IS Partners, is the exclusive representative of VisionWare in Africa.
Peter Clark, Partner and Alliances Manager at VisionWare, says MDM is still in the early adopter stage, but will become a more commoditised technology within the next two years.
He says MDM is quite a broad subject, and therefore can mean different things to different people. Microsoft, for example, currently focuses on analytical master data managements, whereas VisionWare has leveraged its relationship with Microsoft to provide operational master data management solutions that integrate with the Microsoft product stack.
Clark adds that it is typically organisational factors such as policy issues and inter-departmental politics that inhibit the implementation of MDM. “The 'data is mine' attitude does not take the customer perspective into account. There is a need to bring down barriers and move away from building operational walls. Each person in the organisation needs to think like their customer, especially in terms of their customer's need to consume information,” he says.
Further tangible constraints are often encountered in government scenarios, where there is legislation against information sharing as well as data protection and privacy laws. Here, he says, it is critical to view information sharing in terms of how departments can interoperate for improved efficiencies. For example, social and healthcare as well as police departments can benefit from contributing information about a constituent for the constituent's benefit. Data security does not have to be compromised, he adds.
VisionWare focuses on operational master data management solutions, and has gained a strong foothold within government and the healthcare sectors in the UK, the USA and Canada. He says MDM has resolved many constraints around information sharing for public sector bodies and ensured efficient service delivery to citizens through the ability to share trusted, federated information securely.
The business case for MDM, however, is clear-cut. Applications software is not designed with information sharing in mind. Large organisations are typically supported by a distributed application architecture that proliferates silos of outdated, disconnected information. As a consequence, customers are faced with inefficient services, explains Clark.
Data cleansing, which is an element of master data management, has also been seen as a costly, once-off project. He says an incremental approach to MDM works best. “Data is dynamic and constantly changing, particularly information relating to your customers. Data issues simply cannot be solved overnight where companies have multiple divisions, applications and systems,” he says.
An incremental approach can be taken from the perspective of geography, branches or service delivery, and in this way ensure that the business derives value immediately while making the centralisation of information across the organisation an ongoing initiative.
“MDM solves the problems all companies have within a distributed application environment. Companies will have to cleanse, merge and synchronise their data at some point to remain competitive and profitable. MDM drives down costs, saves time through a single source of trusted data, automates analytics and ensures companies can make informed decisions based on up-to-date, federated and trusted information through their various line of business applications,” he adds.
David Ives, director at IS Partners, says MDM is still a growing industry in South Africa. “The ability to have well matched data as well as clean data to make decisions is critical. MultiVue achieves this, allowing business decision-makers to solve real industry issues. A Customer Master Index is just one area we are able to help our clients unlock value from their data assets. The partnership with VisionWare is already helping local clients develop a rules engine to solve critical business issues.”