How does a startup business link all of its critical data to one file -- streamlining data sharing among all current and future employees? The process (which After Nines Inc. is dealing with right now) is called Master Data Management (MDM). In some ways, MDM is a painful exercise in data planning, gathering, organization and maintenance. But the long-term rewards could be immense. Here's why.
Conventional wisdom suggests MDM is a task for large enterprises that want to eliminate information silos (CRM, ERP, email, marketing, HR, etc.). Simply stated:
"Master data management is a comprehensive method of enabling an enterprise to link all of its critical data to one file -- called a master file -- that provides a common point of reference. When properly done, MDM streamlines data sharing among personnel and departments."
Using that definition, even small companies and startups -- including After Nines Inc. -- can benefit from MDM.
Messy Data Management
We're only six months into our business journey, but we already run the risk of creating data silos that don't communicate with one another. They potentially include:
- Corporate Website: We run our corporate domain on SquareSpace, which features data gathering and e-commerce capabilities... Some of which we've yet to activate.
- Email Marketing: So far we run this on MailChimp, a powerful yet simple tool for newsletters, marketing, promotions and plenty more.
- Research: Our options for data gathering include our corporate website; sites we've yet to launch; and third-party tools like SurveyMonkey.
- Google Sheets: Yes, the SaaS-based spreadsheet platform is one of our favorite tools for data gathering and analysis.
- WordPress: We don't currently use WordPress for anything. But we're aware of its power and capabilities for data gathering and management.
The big questions:
- Can we create a standard set of fields (First Name, Last Name, Title, Organization, etc.) across all of our data gathering efforts -- regardless of where the data gets collected (MailChimp, SquareSpace, Google Sheets, etc.)?
- Can we create digital pumps or siphons that automatically move all of that data into one clean data file?
- Finally, can we unlock the full value of that single data file for research, consulting and other types of services we've yet to announce?
The good news: We're actually asking these questions every time we explore a new product, service or platform launch. We don't have all the answers. But a simple up-front step -- leveraging a standard set of fields for our first database build-outs -- is in place. You should see the results in Q4 2015. Or sooner...
So what type of databases are we building, and what value will they offer to you? That's a blog for another day...