Tool Promises Master Data Management for the Masses

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Kalido on Tuesday said an upcoming version of its Information Engine platform will include a user interface that makes it easier for average users to explore master data, spot errors and get them fixed.

Master data refers to information shared by multiple applications within a company, such as lists of products and customers. MDM (master data management) technologies are meant to ensure master data is consistent and accurate. Kalido competes with a wide range of vendors in the space, from platform vendors like SAP and Oracle to smaller players like DataFlux.

MDM applications tend to be used mostly by IT staff today, according to Kalido CEO Bill Hewitt. "They manage it and keep it close to the vest." However, IT usually finds out about problems with the data from end users, he added.

The new UI allows users to make text-based searches, browse through data hierarchies, or explore information according to categories, such as "product" or "sales territory."

Users who spot a problem wouldn't be the ones to make the change. Instead, they would fill out a change request form, which is sent upstream to a "data steward." That person in turn would submit the change for approval to the appropriate higher authority, such as a product category manager. The system records an audit trail of these processes.

Kalido is on the right track, according to independent analyst Merv Adrian.

"In general, MDM is a specialist play," Adrian said. "Projects are often implemented by SIs. That's true for a lot of the Kalido installs as well. But at the end of the day, if a sizable percentage of your data is not clean you've got serious problems. You can't solve this issue in IT. It's got to be globally."

While it may be unlikely that lowest-level employees would interact with the MDM system, someone like a sales manager might, according to Adrian. "They might be taking a look at how their team is performing, and ask, 'Why are we not getting credit for this class of activity,' or they may discover a problem with the way compensation is being recorded," he said.

Kalido bases license fees on the size of the company, not the number of users. The new version will be generally available at the end of October.

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