January 25, 2018

Get the Basics Right to Unlock Business Value

ThinkLinkers had a brief chat with Ditte Brix Andersen from Stibo Systems to discuss their view on how MDM truly is the foundation for healthy business processes, customer-centricity as well as for the application of new technologies. 

 After joining from the Stibo Accelerator programme in 2015, Ditte has been part of Stibo Systems' Customer Domain team helping companies with their customer data challenges, and evolving STEPs customer domain capabilities. As a Pre Sales Consultant, Ditte is passionately driven and focused on how to use customer data as a key value add in businesses

1. Looking at the digitalisation trend, the amount of data is expected to grow exponentially in the next decade. What are the key steps that companies need to take today to be up to date with digital transformation and how can they truly drive value from the growing amount of data?

 My advice to businesses that want to futureproof their digital efforts is to get the basics in place. These years we see tonnes of new technologies, such as Analytics, VR, IoT, blockchain, emerging with record speed, making promises to bring you into the digital age. And many feel pressured to buy into these new technologies so as to not get left behind digitally.

Potentially these technologies can result in tremendous business value, but only if you have put the basics in place first. Harvard Business Review recently looked into the state of around 100 organisations’ data quality, and found that only 3% of these companies’ data met basic quality standards. So, before you can reap the benefits of applying new and advanced technology, you need to see to it that your master data is managed efficiently, and that the quality of it remains consistently high.

If your advanced analytics are based on incorrect data, then it can offer little insight and value. Or, if you invest heavily in pleasing your customers by using advanced technology designed to make your customer experience shine, but you can’t even get their name right in an email, then where’s the value?

So, invest in your master data quality and process management to make sure you have a strong foundation. Once you get this right, I guarantee you will find that the value of your digital efforts will quickly grow.

 2. Customer-centricity is a corporate behaviour that today's CEOs are striving for and it's expected to become the main competitive differentiator for companies in the near future. How can MDM and Data quality help to add value to customer experience in the digital world?

 We like to say that Master Data Management provides the backbone to enable the delivery of excellent customer experiences and customer-centricity. The thought behind this is that to meet your customers’ requirements, you need to first know those requirements. So, first step is to know your customers well by having a so-called single, or 360-degree, view of each of them.

 Customer MDM will help you achieve this, as a CMDM platform provides a link between all of your systems and the Data Governance framework, keeping the quality high. With CMDM you can manage, organise and share all kinds of customer data, supported by strict data rules and workflows. And here, we’re not just talking about names, addresses and emails.

If you want to turn your customers into loyal brand ambassadors you need to give them highly personalised offers. You need to know their buying history, their social interactions with your brand, how they shop – in-store, online, catalogue – when they shop, how they interact with customer service - through social media, email, phone or in-store - their demographics, their size and style – particularly important if you’re an apparel retailer for instance. So basically, all of their preferences.

All of this data can be managed and linked to the right individual or household when you have a CMDM platform in place. That is the foundation for building truly customer-centric offers.

3. Business and IT: how do we break down the wall when it comes to establishing a healthy corporate data culture?

It’s true that traditionally the data responsibility has been more or less handed over to a department who was just expected to fix it, often the IT department. However, in recent years we have started to see a transition.

Increasingly, data quality, data management, data governance and data protection is not just up to a single person or department, but is moving towards becoming the responsibility of the entire business, supported by an enterprise-wide strategy and designed to solve real business problems – not just IT problems - and taken on by people from the business.

However, there’s still some way to go before MDM will be supported with a fully, enterprise-wide, holistic business approach. The trick here is to get top management to buy in to the value of a healthy data culture. And luckily, more and more CXOs are realizing the potential.

They then need to take it on from a strategical point of view, and then – as with most other company-wide initiatives – communication and education is the key to long-term success. Consistently share with the organisation why it’s important, what’s expected from who and also remember to share the progression and wins.


4. A really hot topic of today is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), compulsory from May 2018. As the name says, it's about Data. What is the view of Stibo Systems on the role of MDM in preparing for GDPR? 

We help companies organise and derive value from, among other information types, customer data - so of course we have felt companies’ interest in the particular challenge that the GDPR represents.

The essential foundation for meeting the requirements listed in the GDPR, is that you know 1) where the affected data is, 2) who has access to it - systems and people - and 3) who has responsibility to keep it updated. Based on our experience many, many companies will have a hard time even fulfilling the first step; localising the relevant data.

Unfortunately, many businesses still maintain their customer data in isolated systems across multiple departments, regions and databases. This causes duplicated, incomplete or conflicting information making it pretty much impossible to adhere to the GDPR.

So, the foundation for meeting the requirements of the GDPR is that your organisation breaks down these data silos. Having MDM in place for customer data will get you a very long way towards compliance as it enables you to have one central and consistent view of each of your customers, with business processes and data governance set up to support this view.

Even though a Customer Master Data Management solution is not a full GDPR solution, it can be the stable foundation for your GDPR transition and continued efforts.

5. How do you see the future of MDM? What will be the main challenges, changes and goals of MDM?

As products, services, distribution channels, operational processes and more grow in complexity due to the technological advancement and increased global competition, so will the management of master data. More systems and technologies will need to be linked to the MDM platform. It requires increasingly flexible and scalable solutions.

In addition, the master data itself is moving from being very static to having to be dynamic, as products and services get more customised. Future MDM solutions will have to take that into account.

In our view, the complexity of MDM will grow, but it will for sure continue to play an important role for businesses many years from now. In fact, I think its presence will become even more justified as it can play the supporting role for a lot of new technologies.

 6. As our solution partner, could you share with us what makes STEP different from other solutions out there?

First of all, we are the only Master Data Management vendor out there with a 100% business-first approach, meaning that our focus is not on delivering just the hardcore IT plumbing to our customers. We go into a project with the mindset that we want to help solve actual business problems. Our goal is always to bring operational information to every point in our customers’ businesses where it can help them drive actual business value.

Also, STEP is in our experience the most flexible of the MDM solutions out there. We have done personalised solutions long before it became a buzzword, meaning that we have significant skills and experience in customising STEP to each and every customer to ensure that it helps solve their specific business needs.

Thirdly, I would say that, the fact that we’re a smaller vendor means that 1) we’re much more agile than most vendors out there, and 2) assembly line mentality does not exist in Stibo Systems. We value every single customer and work daily with each and every one to ensure they are able to achieve the most value from their MDM solution.

We thank Ditte for her great contribution and we look forward to meeting the Stibo Systems team and 40+ MDM Managers, professionals and enthusiasts in Berlin. 

Yours, ThinkLinkers

Stibo Systems believes the future of business requires a Digital Business Core™ of operational data that is continuously shaped and delivered to produce superior business outcomes. Stibo Systems is the driving force behind hundreds of forward-thinking companies around the world who have unlocked the full value of their information; empowering business users to act with confidence in their data, adapt quickly to changing market conditions and go beyond to anticipate what's next. Stibo Systems is a privately held subsidiary of the Stibo A/S group, originally founded in 1794. Its corporate headquarters is located in Aarhus, Denmark. For more information, visit www.stibosystems.com