If Ikea were an MDM software vendor – they would at least provide a free self assembly guide and tools!

If Ikea were an MDM software vendor – they would at least provide a free self assembly guide and tools!

Over the past 15 years the MDM market hasn’t evolved very much at all – and we are still using vintage technology approaches to solve simple business applications like Legal Entity matching for KYC, Person matching for GDPR, or customer matching for Share of Wallet Analysis.

All of the aforementioned applications are often very specific to the organisation it is being implemented at and has mostly led to a large number of bespoke implementations being developed based on such OTS (off the shelf) MDM software packages.

Unfortunately our beloved MDM vendors have not yet seen fit to build solutions that accurately fit the customers needs directly and the 80/20 rule where 80% of the solution is available out of the box with the remaining 20% added by configuration – just doesn’t seem to apply. Many of the implementations take between 6 months and 2 years to complete and I still hear horror stories where multiple millions of dollars are spent on solutions that are back “on-the-shelf” as the technologies have a too high a cost of ownership and the companies simply manage another way using spreadsheets or simpler technology. One client I visited a few years back actually spent $2 million on a data governance strategy before they even opened the product box, big mistake given the software package was no longer relevant to their newly defined needs.

Most MDM “solutions” are delivered empty – the vendor still prefers to deliver a half full approach to the solution, no data model is proposed, no standard integration points are available and the client is expected to deliver a solution based on what appears to be a group of self assembly components left on the floor of the office. If Ikea were an MDM software vendor – they would at least provide a free assembly guide and some useful tools (and maybe even a few extra bits lefts over at the end). Yes, indeed you would still be left assembling the technology using a cheap screwdriver and plastic connector pieces, but you would be happy that it didn’t cost the earth, and even if it falls apart in 2 years, then you can as easily buy another, but can we same the same about Master Data tools? Unfortunately this simply isn’t the way our vendors think, primarily they are in the business of recurring revenue from costly support and maintenance, and as such you would expect that this would ultimately drive them to want to help the customer to be successful. Not so, and without wanting to sound like a chapter from Freakonomics – here is why:

You are investing in a software vendor – you have chosen them after a lengthy courtship, you may have 3-4 major software vendors to deal with, if you are a larger company possibly many more – but even so the size of the list of vendors in a company is a fairly static constant – new essential applications don’t appear overnight.

However many vendors you manage – you will focus a proportionate amount of time and resources to the cause of “making it work”. However from the side of the software vendor, once you sign the contract – you are on a list, albeit at the top of the list, as we all know that a software vendor is only as good as its last success! But in reality 6 months, 2 years down the line, you will naturally be pulled far down to the middle or bottom of the list, by both gravity and the shear weight of other customers on top of you.

The long term effects of this are simple – your needs, requirements are now not “as” important, you have paid, you continue to pay support and maintenance, but over time the “support” will diminish as you need less, and the maintenance will become less relevant – just as your needs diversify from the the heard of other clients. However dare to mention that you don’t feel like paying 18%-25% support and maintenance to you account manager and see the effect! Literally nothing – he doesn’t get paid on this after 2-3 years anyway, so he is not incentivised to help, not one bit.

In summary, we know Master Data Management solutions often require large amounts of resources to implement, from development teams through to database and application servers. The entire process starts off costly and remains so throughout the lifecycle of the project, and because of this many MDM solutions often fall outside the financial resources of most organisations, particularly the ones who are small and do not have a dedicated team of Data Engineers!

In addition and to compound the problem – the MDM vendors that do still exist after the wave of acquisition, seem to be intent of overcharging for technology that often does little more than adding a configuration screen on-top of popular database technology.


Robert Haynes is a veteran MDM solutions consultant and product director, he has been involved in the MDM world for over 15 years and helps to implement solutions for some of the worlds largest companies. He heads EntityStream as their CEO, EntityStream is a full function MDM solution that can be deployed in a single desktop or across multiple machines, but more importantly it requires no complex setup process nor lengthy configuration of models and feeds.

* IKEA and the IKEA logo are trademarks of Inter IKEA Systems B.V.

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