• Conrad Chuang

a horse is a horse, of course of course…

I'll Have Another came from behind to win the 138th Kentucky Derby. For those of you who missed it, you can see the video from Churchill Downs. I'll Have Another makes his move around 1 minute 44 seconds with 15 seconds to go (it's proof that the Derby is"the most exciting two minutes in sports!") The triple crown moves on to Pimlico, home of the Preakness which will be run on May 19th.

While I'm not a huge horse racing fan, it has added the rather funny phrase "Horses for courses" to the English lexicon. Apocryphally, it's a term from racing where it's widely believed that because certain tracks play to the innate talents of a specific horse; racing the right horse on that track (or similar tracks) provides an unbeatable advantage. The right horse on the right course is as true for horses as it is for MDM.

Buyers of MDM solutions have many vendors to choose from with varying strengths, weaknesses and approaches. But not all approaches are suitable for every scenario. In all the content written about how to assess one's MDM options, my favorite was written in April 2011 by John Radcliffe called "Different Approaches or Usage Patterns for MDM and Their Implications." The key question was: Is your usage pattern more central authoring or transactional activity? (or, Do you need workflow?)

Answering that question removes a whole swath of vendors who have specialized in the transactional activity style. In MDM, workflow is often required because no one, single individual can create, review or approve of the official version of master data. While it is possible to build your own substitute by cobbling together a transactional activity style MDM and business process management suite, it's needlessly complicated. Another complication is that many transactional activity MDM platforms require modeling your master data using physical models for a specific RDBMS. However, quite a bit of master data (especially the kind that requires workflow) is quite hierarchical (and loaded with business rules) making it challenging to represent and maintain with just a physical model. (Look for a future blog post about modeling).

EBX5 is a central authoring-style MDM platform.

When I look at how our customers are using EBX5, in every case, EBX5 connects people who review and approve master data. Examples include situations where HR needs to approve the redesign of an org chart; or corporate accounting needs to review cost centers that need to be closed. (And this includes going back to see the accounts as of a prior time period, and simulating the impact of new org chart). It's no coincidence we play very well in MDM for corporate functions.

Committing to a specific market segment (aka MDM style) requires more than flashy marketing, your product needs to reflect the requirements of the customers. For example, the platform needs to be able to model (or document) the data being mastered; given the hierarchical nature of this information this requires a shift from physical, database focused, models to logical, or semantic models. Workflow is required — so some facility for modeling workflows, defining roles and setting rights must exist. Finally,given that the participants in this workflow are often non-IT (HR staffers, accountants, product management). And given that success of the initiative lies is tied to adoption of these users. It drives the need to be user centric. Central authoring MDM platforms need to have user friendly interfaces (optionally, browser-based and mobile accessible) to simplify adoption.

Usability is just one of the ways that EBX5 supports the central authoring style of MDM. To learn more, read the EBX5 section on our website and watch our new 3 minute video.