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What is the state of MDM? Observations from the MDM & Data Governance Conference

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Last week, Verato had the opportunity to attend, speak, and exhibit at the MDM & Data Governance Conference in Chicago.

Our speaking session was with Shannon Hood from Intermountain. Our VP of Healthcare, Joaquim Neto, talked with Shannon about how Intermountain has used Verato and our Referential Matching technology to improve Intermountain’s data stewardship productivity by 174%. There was a lot of head-nodding when Shannon described how Referential Matching was able to boost this productivity without disrupting any of Intermountain’s core processes.

This speaking session also helped me notice a common theme throughout the conference: there is a lot of hype around many of the areas that surround mastering data, but not as much of a focus on improving the core competencies of MDM – on better mastering the data in the first place.

This was apparent even in the crowd in the exhibit hall: there were a lot of policy vendors, security services companies, analytics companies that must rationalize their data to perform their analytics, and “governance” vendors. But none of the large, legacy MDM companies were there – like Oracle, Informatica, or IBM.

It is as if the best practices of mastering data are now just assumed as a given. I find that hard to believe based on where the leading-edge part of the industry was just a few years ago (few had moved to cloud, many were still focused on multi-domain, and certainly no one was talking about Referential Matching).

Over 90% of the business value of mastering data comes from centralizing it and linking the records and data that belong to the same person. If you can’t get the basics and foundation right, then nothing else matters. I think there was a feeling amongst the attendees and in the audience of our speaking session that the conversations around trends may have been too far removed from the reality of most people living this work every day.

I also observed that a lot of attendees were interested in a broad range of domains. The first most talked-about was the provider domain, with person and organization following in second and third. It was interesting that the multi-domain conversation – which dominated this event a few years ago – was notably absent. I think that over the past few years, people have realized that multi-domain is not a reality. And while cloud-based approaches were interesting to people, they are beginning to become more assumed than provocative.

For those attendees who were focused on person data, the idea of automating and improving productivity of data stewardship was very interesting, and this was very apparent from talking to the audience members of our speaking session. This also goes back to the idea that organizations must improve the core functionality of MDM – mastering and linking and rationalizing their data – before focusing on peripheral improvements.

Everyone who does person MDM recognizes that it is a huge challenge. I hope that there is a continued conversation about how to improve MDM as a core, foundational discipline before jumping to the latest trends.