Why master data management and the CMO are made for each other


When it comes to CMOs, I’m about as data centric as they get.  Early in my career, I worked as an economist for a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. I was happily awash in data and found myself analysing such hot topics as the difference in prices of power tools in Japan and the United States. 

Years later when I became a CMO, I thought to myself: “Here’s where I can use my love of working with lots of data to drive decision making and performance in marketing.” I was in for a rude surprise – the data spigot was badly broken. 

The reason for this data logjam quickly became apparent.  Most marketers are dependent on systems that were built to automate individual business functions such as sales, finance, and customer service, to name just a few.  And, despite advances in CRM, e-commerce, BI and marketing applications, very few CMOs can see across these siloed systems to get the insights they need to do their job. 

It’s a frustrating dilemma – marketers are unable to resolve this problem because they do not own the internal sales, finance and customer service systems, and do not control the processes that collect the relevant data. Each of these systems was designed to automate a specific function – none were created with the entire IT landscape in mind or built to inform marketing decisions. In most companies, no one is charged with pulling all this information together so the data remains in silos – solving specific functional problems, but not addressing the larger opportunities within the business.

I recently talked to the CMO of an eyewear company in the UK about this very problem. His is a classic example – given the company’s siloed systems, he is unable to analyse stock keeping units (SKUs) to identify such essential sales patterns as how well various colours and styles of frames are selling in different regions of the country. He’s not just frustrated, he’s angry about being handcuffed because of silo creep and the influx of unstructured, dirty and largely inaccessible data. If he does not fix this problem, there is no way that he can get what he needs out of his business intelligence initiatives to market effectively.

MDM to the rescue

Master data management (MDM) is the answer. MDM was created to work across all of your enterprise’s systems – to pull together all your data, clean it and categorise it, providing you with a 360-degree view of your customers and insight into every aspect of your business.

MDM helps solve three major problems:

  1. Analytic MDM allows you to analyse and understand your entire customer base in order to segment customers and identify new opportunities and trends.
  2. Customer-360 MDM gathers all of your data about a single customer or product, including transactional information (e.g. site navigation path and past purchases.  This allows a sales person or customer service representative to leverage this 360-degree view and better sell or service their customers on a day-to-day basis.
  3. Operational MDM enables all sales and service systems to work together on behalf of the customer. Systems are connected in real time to improve data quality and streamline the customer experience – for example, when a customer registers on a web site all other relevant systems are automatically updated.

MDM’s beneficial impact

From a CMO’s perspective, MDM solves a lot of problems and alleviates a lot of frustration. 

MDM can help you build your business by:

  • Improving product characterisation in order to track and understand what lines are selling and why
  • Uniting customer information so you can understand which customers have purchased which specific products and services, and launch successful new offerings
  • Improving marketing database segmentation so you can better target customers based on role, title, product interest and past purchases
  • Eliminating duplicates and reducing market spend
  • Improving ROI tracking accuracy by gaining more insights into the interaction between marketing spend, touches and sales
  • Improving the customer experience by tying all of your systems together

To help implement the MDM solution, Talend has launched a new consulting services package, Passport for Master Data Management (MDM) Success. The service helps establish the foundation needed to ensure MDM projects are delivered on time, within budget, and address the needs of a company’s various lines of business – including marketing.

The efficacy of MDM was brought home to me during another customer visit – this one far more upbeat.  Based on projections from a recently installed MDM system, this customer forecasts an increase in e-commerce revenues of 11% because the system allows the customer service representatives to do a better job of cross-selling.  And, because the MDM system provides sales people on the floor with more insights into customer past purchases, in store sales are expected to jump by 7%.

For a marketing manager, a purpose-built MDM solution is the royal road out of the data management morass and an end to siloed systems.  It’s enough to make any CMO smile.


Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) brings together the worldwide digital marketing community to tackle the challenges that the digital future presents. To find out more visit #DMWF today.

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