The Hub of Context
…what if you change the underlying repository to a graph? It immediately changes the mindset and strategy of MDM from systems to views. Much more intuitive, analytic, and intelligent about our master data
Spending time at the MDM/DG Summit in NYC this week demonstrated the wide spectrum of MDM implementations and stories out in the market. It certainly coincides with our upcoming MDM inquiry analysis where:
- Big data is influencing MDM strategies and plans
- Moving from MDM silos to enterprise MDM hubs
- Linking MDM to business outcomes and initiatives
- Cloud, cloud, cloud
During my keynote I tried to expand our perspective on MDM to be a hub for context in customer experience – sitting between systems of record and systems of engagement to translate, manage and evolve dynamically the full fidelity of customer identity through interactions directly or as viewed through indirect business processes and supporting activities. For example, what can you learn about an air traveler by analyzing baggage handling data? What can be learned about anonymous visitors to your website beyond the activity tracked on site – what did they look at prior to coming? what device did they use? where are they located? do you already have past behavior stored in a cookie? This opens up the customer master beyond the 25 – 250 data elements we might include today to potentially thousands or customer markers that define identifies. All this metadata is master data.
Now that I blew your mind, is this even possible? Oh yeah baby!
Let’s talk graph databases. Back in 2013 Facebook launched the Facebook Graph Search beta. This took the idea of six degrees of separation and let you navigate through these connections based on your interests and natural language request. Behind the scene, the database is not structured around a logical structure of tables and data elements. It is based on classifications and relationships. This provides dimensionality way beyond the rigidity of relational database repositories and requires little to no translation of how we view people based on the data we have (system, tables, user interface, etc). It’s semantic – the human view.
MDM is not a data integration tool! (say this loud and clear so I can hear you – then say it again) Even as MDM is founded on the premise of managing simple to complex data models, the fact that the repository is typically XML or relational and it is designed as a system hub turns it into a pretty powerful data integration tool. And thus, this is how we have typically implemented it.
But, what if you change the underlying repository to a graph? It immediately changes the mindset and strategy of MDM from systems to views. Much more intuitive, analytic, and intelligent about our master data. And this is what innovative MDM companies are doing – using a graph db repository (ie. Pitney Bowes Spectrum MDM). And, still other innovative organizations are saying, we can build this on our own by leveraging a graph db (good confirmation and examples of this with Neo Technology). And, you have data profiling and discovery tools like Global IDs helping you identify and build a graph of your data (they OEM Neo4j from Neo Technology and use the open source graph db Titan).
There are still challenges:
- Scalability can be limited – to overcome this companies are sitting their graph dbs on top of triple-stores to overcome this.
- Semantic and graph skills are limited – analytic teams are being tapped to support data modelers and MDM developers. You many need to invest in semantic discovery and modeling tools.
- In-Graph MDM tools are still new – start with well known domains and business/engagement processes and scale from there to avoid too much innovation at once.
MDM at GraphConnect 2014Hear how Pitney Bowes is using Neo4j to power their Next-Gen Master Data Management at GraphConnect 2014. GraphConnect is the only conference focused on the world of graph databases and applications and will be held in San Francisco on October 22.
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About the Author
Greta Workman has about four years of marketing and external affairs experience through internships at CBS, Pfizer, and Columbia Business School, with some non-profit work scattered in there as well. She recently graduated from Barnard College of Columbia University in NYC with a degree in Political Economics