Gartner Highlights 10 Critical Myths and Realities of Master Data Management

Gartner Master Data Management Summit 2011 in Los Angeles

Egham, UK (Jan. 24, 2011) – The adoption of master data management (MDM) promises many benefits ranging from business agility and improved business performance to increased revenue and lower IT and business costs. However, according to Gartner, achieving these benefits often entails overcoming formidable technical, organizational and political hurdles.

Gartner defines MDM as a technology-enabled discipline that ensures the uniformity, accuracy, stewardship and semantic consistency of an enterprise’s official, shared master data assets. Organizations use master data for consistency, simplification, uniformity of process, analysis and communication across the business.

“MDM is the latest attempt to solve the old problem of inconsistent versions of important data at the centre of an organization,” said Andrew White, research vice president at Gartner. “As with any new initiative, there is a lot of hype and confusion, and with hype and confusion comes misunderstanding. Executive sponsors of MDM and MDM program managers must avoid several common mistakes that have been known to derail MDM initiatives in the past.”

To clarify some of the confusing and conflicting points of view on MDM, Gartner has highlighted the prevalent myths surrounding MDM alongside an explanation of the realities.

Myth 1: MDM Is About Implementing a Technology
Reality: MDM is much less about technology and much more about understanding how business processes are supposed to work.

Myth 2: MDM Is a Project
Reality: MDM is implemented as a program that forever changes the way the business creates and manages its master data. However, to adopt MDM will require numerous discrete projects.

Myth 3: We Don’t Need MDM; We Have an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW)
Reality: MDM should/will span the organization across all business units and processes (including data stores, operational and analytical).

Myth 4: Implementing ERP Means You Don’t Need MDM
Reality: Enterprise resource planning (ERP) generally means a packaged business application strategy, most often centered on a single, large vendor. ERP implied, but rarely realized for the user organization, a single process and data model across the organization.

Myth 5: MDM Is for Large, Complex Enterprises Only
Reality: The principle of MDM is applied whenever two or more business processes must view or share (master) data. This means that most organizations have a need for the discipline of MDM even if they don’t call it that, or if they implement a separate technology called MDM.

Myth 6: Metadata Is ‘the’ Key to MDM
Reality: Metadata is critical to MDM (and many efforts outside MDM), but how metadata is applied in the context of MDM differs by domain, industry, use case and implementation style.

Myth 7: MDM Is an IT Effort
Reality: MDM must be driven by the business, a business case, and supported/enabled by IT.

Myth 8: MDM Is Just Too Big to Do
Reality: MDM can be and is most presently being adopted one domain or province at a time, and one use case at a time.

Myth 9: MDM Is Separate to Data Governance and Data Quality
Reality: MDM includes governance (of master data) and data quality (of master data) – MDM cannot be established without them.

Myth 10: It Doesn’t Matter Which MDM Technology Vendor You Use – They All ‘Do’ MDM
Reality: MDM is complex; rarely do two organizations’ MDM programs look alike. Vendor MDM capability has also focused on specialization across data domain, industry, use case, organization and implementation style. Consequently, vendor selection is critical if organizations are to find the right partner.

Additional information is available in the Gartner report “The 10 Myths and Realities of Master Data Management “. The report is available on Gartner’s website at

Mr. White will be speaking at the Gartner Master Data Management Summit 2011, February 2-3, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, in London. For further information about the Summit, please visit Additional information from the event will be shared on Twitter at #GartnerMDM. Members of the media can register for the Summit by contacting Laurence Goasduff, Gartner PR at [email protected].

For further information on the Gartner Master Data Management Summit 2011 taking place on May 4-6 in Los Angeles, please visit Members of the media can register for the Los Angeles event by contacting Christy Pettey at [email protected].

About Gartner Master Data Management Summit 2011

MDM is now seen as an essential prerequisite for creating and running a well functioning organization. However, it’s not enough to throw technology at the problem of inconsistent master data across silos, because a lot of the challenge is with people and politics, not technology. Getting the right governance framework, establishing the right data stewardship roles and responsibilities will be vital to success. Gartner analysts will examine how organizations should start the ongoing journey to MDM, and how to build a strong business case, create the right governance framework and select the right technology.

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. Gartner delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is the valuable partner to 60,000 clients in 11,000 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has 4,400 associates, including 1,200 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries. For more information, visit

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