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Data & Intelligence

Master Data Management is not Strategy – How to win with a Customer Data Platform 

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What is Master Data Management?

According to Gartner, master data management (MDM) is a technology-enabled discipline in which business and IT work together to ensure the uniformity, accuracy, stewardship, semantic consistency, and accountability of the enterprise’s official shared master data assets. Master data is the consistent and uniform set of identifiers and extended attributes that describe the enterprise’s core entities, including customers, prospects, citizens, suppliers, sites, hierarchies, and chart of accounts.

But, Why?

All executives at large and small organizations are considering how their organizations will use data. But, considering 70% of digital data initiatives fail, it’s important to ask why. For me, a single answer is true:

The Data Initiative lost sight of Business Strategy.


Given the size of the opportunity, how should I think about data strategy?

According to Forrester, data-fueled experiences, AI, and customer data platforms (CDPs) are a 37 Billion dollar opportunity. That opportunity has led organizations both large and small to examine their data strategy. The best such examinations typically have one goal: turning the data into revenue, customer satisfaction, and lifetime customer value. Further, research is showing that data is valuable not in and of itself, but because of the actions taken as a result of that data.  To do so, organizations must adopt both a rigorous Master Data Management approach and a clear understanding of when to break MDM’s rules. 

To break the rules, we need to apply lessons from Machine Learning (ML). Sometimes data “truth” is not easy to know, and ML teams may have special data needs that do not fit neatly into MDM. In Machine-Learning driven Marketing, storing semi-true data is critical to solving broader challenges and painting the most precise picture about the prospect or customer. Most importantly, large organizations often have multiple useful “true” overlapping data repositories relevant to different parts of the organization.

Customer Data Platforms are one such “semi-true” repositories. They store traditional master customer “golden” records. As importantly, CDPs also contain prospect and unknown digital visitor records, contextual inferences from business rules and models, preferences, aggregate segments, and sentiments.

What place does a Customer Data Platform have in my organization?

Since understanding customer and prospect intent continues to become critical to driving value, Customer Data Platforms serve the critical role of bridging marketing, sales, data science, operations, and finance into a dataset that drives insight, context, integration, and personalization at the right time and place for prospects and customers. As such, strategic implementation of a Customer Data Platform (CDP) is table stakes for leading organizations.

To sum:

  • Solve problems over injecting methodologies
  • Customer Data Platforms solve business and technical problems and are a key value add to MDM for organizations both large and small.
  • Use MDM for internal, operational data that has easy-to-determine “master” records.
  • Do not let MDM get in the way of turning data into value.

Have a marketing data need that is getting too far “into the weeds”? At Perficient, we have the strategic and execution team to meet any of your organizational data needs.

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Jordan Kanter, Marketing Director

Jordan Kanter is a Marketing Director at Perficient. With over a decade of experience in digital, he has helped leading brands such as TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, The Hartford, United Airlines, Intercontinental Hotels Group, and Hyundai to drive ROI across channels.

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