A Fresh Look At Data Management

What was a lagging luxury should be leading indicator

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Seth Adler

Master Data Management becomes Main Data Management as the data supply chain flips and the function itself evolves to lead enterprise to digital and ultimate transformation.

We’re having a moment here in the US, but also globally- around an equitable society and so many industry players are updating terminology from master data management to main data management. This still allows us to call the initiative MDM- which allows the OCDer’s among us to exhale.

Data Management 

Main Data Management is the act of organizing, centralizing, managing, categorizing and ultimately enriching your data. With uniform accurate and consistent data- your enterprise can outpace the competition, industry disruption and even internal enterprise expectations. Some do not count transactional data in the true definition of MDM- although some do.

Data Management History 

Datum is the singular version of data. Back in the 17th century- a datum was a fact. The 1880 US census was tabulated using a punch card system designed by Herman Hollerith and as the decades passed and the data grew more complex- the term master data was coined to refer to the static data as opposed to the changing transactional data. Throughout the 1940’s, 1950s and 1960’s, with the corporate democratization of the mainframe computer, data became everyday parlance.

From the 1960’s through the 1980’s, the field grew into what we now know as the management of customer, product, location-based and miscellaneous datasets.

Data Management Today 

Robert Welborn is the Director, Data & Data Science for General Motors. As he sees it, global corporate enterprise has- for the most part, seen data as a luxury, “we'll get to reporting when we get to reporting we'll we will, we'll upsell, we'll monetize.”

Join Robert at AI, RPA & Data here on AIIA

Not that monetizing is a bad thing. But Robert’s point is that we haven’t been using data as the ultimate element of decision-making. Sure- data-driven decision-making has occurred, but not to the extent of managing enterprise existence.

The global pandemic has had a particular effect on Robert’s company. For over 100 years General Motors manufactured motor vehicles. Then on April 8th, 2020- General Motors became a ventilator manufacturer. What used to be a fun data dance that Robert and his team would do privately suddenly became precision choreographed ballet of the highest order with every decision-maker involved.

“What we had used as a luxury before suddenly was driving everything. We're having conversations with our suppliers, with the UAW and with the plants showing them through data what we're going to do next.”

And the data told them just what to do. Robert and his team were seeing vehicle-level data as the pandemic burst across the globe and made it’s way to the East Coast of the United States. “The data is saying we can shut down. And the data that we're getting from the state of New York in specific is saying that we, if we were doing anything right now- we should be building ventilators. If there's anything that we would do, we should build insulators and we should build masks.”

Data-driven decision-making led Robert and his team and ultimately his company to know not only what to do, but how and when to do it. “We're now matching the speed of the data as opposed to necessarily just coming up with our own speed.”

“Before, data waited on business and we came up with KPIs based off of the data that we saw. What's happening now is that the workflow is waiting on the data and we're making the decisions when we’ve got the data. Mary said it herself, ‘We're going to be a leaner company because of the data that we have, that's driving the work that we're doing.’”

The workflow is waiting on the data and decisions are made upon receipt of the data. The supply chain of data and decisions has flipped. If your enterprise is still grappling with how to execute MDM, stop- idle your thinking- shut down. Look at the data. Divine a strategy that ensures data drives the strategy. Let it speak to you. Let it tell you what to do.

Join Robert at AI, RPA & Data here on AIIA