Tuesday, 18 October 2011

UID has woken up India to MDM

Couple of years back MDM solutions was not even heard in India. Even though MDM had arrived in various other parts of the world including countries like China and Philippines, India had still not woken to that. Any customer that you would go in India like banks and government sectors, it was difficult to make them understand the concept of MDM. Even if they understood there were questions and concerns around basic infrastructure to support that and a big dilemma on the quality of their data. Data Quality is a big throttle to the MDM.

But the story is a little different now. MDM solution was started being conceptualized in various sectors in India with UID. It had become simple to explain MDM to customers if you would just say UID. The statement 'It would give the Unique Identification to each and every customer that you have" rang a bell. It was even easier to explain to my father as to what is the product that I work on. :-)

There is a very interesting video on You Tube also on MDM which is my personal favorite. Do have a look at that.


The IOD event in Las Vegas will showcase some of the interesting use cases of MDM with respect to Retail, Telco and Government sector. All what you wanted to know about IBM MDM will be there at IOD.


Thursday, 6 October 2011

Make verses Buy

Think of a situation where there is a desperate need and desire to eat a chocolate cake. Now in order to make it you would need flour, egg, coco powder, some essence, baking powder, eggs and in case the person is vegetarian then lots of cream. So you would either go to the market buy all these items and then make it at home. The other option is order the same and you might get it in half the time and effort. Definitely if you are not an experienced baker you would choose the second option.

The same debate happened in my last customer visit. The customer thinks that they have a solution which is some what similar to MDM and if they enhance it further they can make it a complete MDM solution. However what they fail to understand is MDM is not a software installation but a journey. It is not only to give to that single customer view but taking that view to the next step which helps them making further decisions on long term future and goals. However one can still go ahead and build an MDM solution if the company understands its own requirement around MDM. If it has experts who have knowledge on this domain and can build this solution. If they do not then it is better to ask the ‘experts’ and their solution rather than start building it else that would lead to failure.

The other reason could be when the company is caught in such dilemmas is when they do not have the long term goal set. Unfortunately a lot of companies especially in growth market still do not understand this because probably they look at short term benefits and probably miss the bigger picture.

Moral of the story, build if you know what you want else get the experts.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Whats in store at IBM Software Universe

One of the easiest and the best way to reach to the customer is to invite all of them to an event and make them know about the product. At the same time ask their first hand feedback about the products they are working with. This is what Software Universe Event is all about.

The IBM Software Universe Event, 7th one in the last 7 years has Customers, SMEs, Sales and Marketing forum coming under one Umbrella in Mumbai. Some of the very exciting topics that would be covered around Information Management are Information and Analytics, Big Data and Streams. All what you wanted to know about how IBM is investing in Big data would be shown in the SWU Expo.

Big Data is the latest buzz in the Information management space. One of the major areas where Big Data can be used is how the Enterprise Information can be extended beyond the External Public Platform.

A simple Use case could be around a retail chain who has a multi-domain MDM solution in an Enterprise view. But at the same the Retail Chain also wants to know what a specific customer is talking about his products in the Social media. The Size of the Social Media Information that needs to be tabbed for this purpose would be huge and along with that it needs to be combined with live streams. All this can be combined in single view of the Customer and can give him the holistic view of the Customer in an Enterprise. And many more use cases that are there.

So do not miss the event to know more about IBM products.
Here is the link where you can register for this event for 2011:


Sunday, 25 September 2011

What type of data is master data?

Recently while doing a demo to one of the customer, one of the question that kept on hovering around most part of the discussion is "I have this attribute. Can I keep it in the Master Data Management Solution". The attributes that were chosen were price of a product, points earned by the customer and so forth.

The price of the product for that customer is something that would change multiple times in a single day and a similar thing could happen with the Point system. This definitely does not contribute to the Master data.

A lot of times it has been observed that customer does not clearly understand what Master Data is and often confuses it with a repository which can hold all their data like a Data Warehouse vis-à-vis a solution which could give them that single view of the customer or any entity. So it is very important to make the customer understand what Master Data is. The attributes that form a part of Master Data should not be highly transactional as then the objective of the MDM is lost.

Looking for views from other MDM Specialists.
One of the biggest marketing event by IBM in the month of October.


Register at the following link


Sunday, 26 June 2011

Learning Initiate

Recently went through an IBM Initiate training, and I was very impressed with the set of tools and documentation of the product. It has a very cool workbench which gives the capability to configure and maintain the product. This tool can handle all the nuisances of the creation of an MDM server solution. Most of the MDM server projects actually do not reach their achieved goal or are failures because the process to achieve Master view itself fails. Typically the steps involve around loading cleansing, analyzing, and reviewing the data.

The Initiate workbench provides capabilities to do all this and more. The most interesting feature that it provides what it says is algorithm configuration which typically allows you to:-
1. Standardize the data to a format which can be entered into the system
2. Bucket the candidates
3. Compare the members

Configuring Algorithm is also pretty cool through a drag and drop UI. With a clear set of use cases it should take probably a day to configure it . Once you have configured all this, then the data is loaded into the system, and there on you start doing the actual MDM functionalities of matching and linking records.

I still need to see the other UI, which is Inspector and their reporting capabilities but till now what I have seen is quite impressive.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Householding in Telco

Recently I have been looking at MDM Server fitment into a Telco domain. There is lot of scope in the Telco to make it and it is a very heterogeneous vertical. However, the use cases that you would like to demonstrate in a MDM Product which gives you very customer specific view of the story is probably similar.

What could those use cases be and I am adding a few:-
1. Creating a Party
2. Creating a Product
3. Suspect duplicate processing
4. Creating a contract between Party and a Telco product
5. Householding information
6. Establishing Value proposition of a customer
7. Campaign management

Among all the use cases above and I am sure there are quite a few more, householding information is one of the basic concept on which the customer view can give the biggest advantage to any Telco customer. The householding will give the value proposition also to the customer. However the way we define a household may differ in different industry. So in other ways the way we define a householding would be a set of rules using which we can group people together.

There is a very interesting article on the following site about householding that is very informational.


Sunday, 22 May 2011

Delhi Airport Wow !!

Sitting at the Delhi International airport, I was completely overwhelmed by the size and the standards that the airport had now. It had Terminals for domestic and international flights along with secured wireless connections. The immense size of the airport with most interesting places to shop and eat made my 5 hours wait at the airport almost unnoticeable. From Swaroski to Haldiram and Mc Donalds to Nirula’s , it had the right mix of the east meets the west kind of image. The standards were as good as any world class airports. :-)

But what completely took me by surprise was the big banner that I saw on terminal 3 which said “Smarter transportation for a smarter planet” and the known logo of IBM. The managed network infrastructure solution on terminal 3 was done by IBM in partnership with IBM International Airport. All the things that we have been working upon through IBM’s smarter planet initiative and to see them implemented while we actually reap its benefit (while I write this blog) was great.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Last week, I went to buy camera as our last one had become completely useless. I was interested in buying Sony but I was bowled by the options available. Come to it I had just come to buy a plain camera which could take some decent pictures, but then you had this root product of camera which had almost 20 variants like Series H, S,T etc and each of them had further sub variants. And then for each variant there are separate terms and condition which could override the root terms and condition like the warranty period, guarantee periods etc.

Similarly, there was this concept of bundling wherein if I bought the Sony LED 49 inches, I would get a Sony camera free. Well that was little too much to go for but then I realized how complicated the product structures can be.

At the back of my mind I was trying to map this to MDM Server Product domain capabilities. Can this whole structure be implemented in that solution? And yes we could. MDM Server structure capabilities allow saving variants of the products as well as supports complex relationships and bundles.

So finally going back to what I bought. Well still thinking. Hopefully I would be able to close on that soon.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

MDM Solutions and matching capability

Data Quality of the MDM Server is a very important aspect of MDM. The significant use case around Data Standardization, Matching, Suspect duplicate processing, are one of the key elements which differentiate the MDM capabilities from the Data Warehouse Solution.

Talking about the matching requirements of an MDM Solution, in any kind of a CDI solution it is very important to be able to hold of the unique identification of a customer/person. Consider an example wherein a person by name “Sushil Kumar” comes to a bank to open an account in the bank. This person has already defaulted credit card payment some 3 years ago and now because of may be difference in the spelling name or address change, the bank cannot make out that this is the same person. This could lead to wrong decision by the bank in allowing him to open a bank account again and providing him debit/credit cards. A similar error in health care can lead to a life and death situation. So an MDM Solution with good matching capabilities is required. The MDM Solution can either support matching capabilities OOTB or integrate with any of the other good matching engines.

Matching can be probabilistic or deterministic

Deterministic Matching
• Uses combination of algorithms and business rules to determine if two or more records match.
• The result is an either/or outcome: Either records match the requirements of the business rule or they don't.
• Better suited for businesses that have simple data systems with less attributes to match

Probabilistic Matching
• Uses likelihood ratio theory to assign comparison outcomes to the correct or more likely decision
• Probabilistic systems assign a percentage (such as 75 percent) indicating the probability of a match.
• Better suited for businesses that have complex data systems with multiple databases

IBM with its Quality Stage (QS) and Initiate matching engine now provides both the breeds of matching capabilities. The InfoSphere MDM Server has integration with QS to support matching while the IBM Initiate system has an inbuilt probabilistic matching engine. With time both the IBM MDM Solution can look at having support of both the matching capabilities and be able to incorporate any kind of matching.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Account domain in MDM Server

InfoSphere MDM Server is one of the MDM Solutions which provides multi-domain support along with multi-style. One of the domains that it supports out of the box is Account domain.

What is a Account in MDM terminology?
An Account is an an agreement between two parties with terms and conditions which is enforced by the MDM Server. An account leads to purchase of a product by one party from another party leading to creation of an agreement. For e.g take the case of a customer creating a savings account in a bank. Here the bank and the customer are the two parties forming an agreement when the customer buys the product savings account.

An account domain can be used to provide support for value packages. Value Package allows providing bundle multiple products which can be then sold to customer. This concept can be used in the financial as always telco line of businesses. In telecom also the concept of value package is quite useful. Take the case wherein a customer purchases a mobile connection and a GPRS connection is provided to him as a value package and these two are stored as accounts in the MDM System. The rules and details of the product like a mobile connection is defined by Term and Agreement of that product.

The account domain support was added in MDM 8.0 and has become stable with the releases.