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StrategyMay 16, 2011

Is Master Data Part of the CRM Vision for Your Enterprise?

Manish Limaye

While the first and second blogs addressed infrastructure and the topic of SaaS vs. On-Premise, the third and final blog endeavors to shed light on the topic of data. The CRM technical solution represents the tangible manifestation of concepts and structures which place the customer at the center of an organization’s CRM processes. The ability to truly segment customers based on buying trends, gross margin, product mix, and a myriad of other metrics requires master data.

Is Master Data part of your CRM Vision?

Several key decisions up front help drive an organization to the most appropriate technology solution when considering master data. For example, if you elect to use a packaged CRM solution chances are it has its own customer data model. Based on the need this may fit your master data requirements. In most cases small gaps can be address with minor customizations. If you’re using a SaaS solution you will have the ability to add custom fields however you may be limited in renaming and removing existing fields from a given view. It’s important to remember that your master data solution is driven by your intended use of the information. Meet with executives up front to understand how the information you collect will enable them to learn more about customers and in turn how that will impact the business as they determine which new products and services to bring to market. Finally, the topic of interfaces must be addressed as well. Master data implies a single data source for other applications to poll. In most organizations interfaces represent the weak-link when assessing the overall application architecture. What is your plan for interfacing these systems? A service oriented approach decouples systems reducing interdependencies, but it can be very difficult to implement. A direct interface is typically the cheapest solution but makes switching systems much more difficult and is now considered by most to be poor strategic decision. If you already have an ESB, SOA is the way to go. If you don’t maybe it’s time to invest in one?