Why Channel Data & Master Data Management Don’t Always Get Along

Channel managers are often included in corporate Master Data Management (MDM) projects. The hope is that an overall MDM strategy will help tame channel data so that it plays nicely with other important company information. As a result, channel managers often ask us two questions: 1) How will an MDM strategy help, or hurt me? And 2) How can I effectively contribute to the strategy?

First, let’s take a step back and define what we are we even talking about. According to Wikipedia, “master data management (MDM) comprises the processes, governance, policies, standards and tools that consistently defines and manages the critical data of an organization to provide a single point of reference.”

That said, a common objective of an MDM program is to clean up account reference information, because the goal is to use accurate account data to tie together ERP, CRM, and channel POS, among other critical business data. MDM strategies can have their merits and can benefit channel managers in a variety of ways.

For example:

  • Clean reference information provides an important benchmark against which channel data can be measured
  • MDM is an important acknowledgement of, and investment in, clean data within the enterprise

However, channel POS data does not always cleanly tie in with MDM projects and it’s important to understand the reasons why – even if you don’t have a corporate MDM plan.

Channel POS data is very dynamic and if your channel is successfully growing your customer base, both in new markets and new accounts, you’ll see a lot of new names in your database. But keep in mind that it is your partners that manage the governance of the account information they are submitting to you and unfortunately, most partners aren’t particularly concerned about data quality. You may try to put some processes in place to ensure you are getting clean information from partners – particularly when it comes to registering deals. But when the transactions start flowing in, it’s easy to fall behind and the nice sounding goal of maintaining good, clean corporate information quickly disappears.

Given the above, it’s important for channel managers to understand what MDM is not when it comes to channel data:

  • It’s not a solution for the many data formats provided by channel partners to report data
  • It’s not a compliance mechanism to ensure you receive the channel data you need when you need it
  • It’s not a real-time channel data solution – the “management” in MDM inevitably means cycles for data governance

So here are our answers to the two questions posed at the beginning of our blog post:

How does an MDM strategy help or hurt a channel manager?

Channel managers can benefit from a greater emphasis on clean data in the organization as well as tools to help manage various data sources, as long as everyone realizes that channel data management challenges need to be addressed separately.

How can a channel manager contribute?

Consider your channel data strategy. Does it provide real time visibility while still providing the tools and processes necessary to govern data effectively and integrate well with MDM?

Perhaps it’s time to explore your channel data processes with your partners and discuss how you can make your channel data processes more efficient?

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