The challenge, however, is that organizations tend to have environments where enterprise-critical data is duplicated, siloed, and fragmented across multiple systems and applications. So, as data evolves, it becomes error-prone and prevents stakeholders from obtaining gunified, accurate, and timely information to make appropriate business decisions.The result is higher costs, missed sales opportunities, eroding margins, and increased risk. A question, therefore, arises: How do you get from a thousand points of data entry to a single view of thebusiness? Master Data Management (MDM) is commonly the answer. MDM breaks departmental silos and streamlines data sharing among personnel to optimize efficiency. However, most companies still view MDM as only a technological endeavor. The rationale is that by plugging MDM software to operate across existing applications such as CRM and ERP, one can build a “true view or single view of data” that will feed consistent, accurate, and reliable information to enterprise systems.
“In reality, however, Master Data solutions are much more than a technological endeavor,” asserts Vimal Vel, global head of Master Data Solutions, Dun & Bradstreet [NYSE:DNB]. At the heart of every successful Master Data Management (MDM) or Enterprise Data Management (EDM) initiative is a foundation of quality data that needs to be complete and consistent across all departments and applications in a business. This is where Dun & Bradstreet plays a pivotal role in the MDM universe. Dun & Bradstreet helps companies create a trusted view of customers, prospects, and vendors across the many systems, regions, and departments of an enterprise. “We enable our customers’ MDM initiatives by providing pre-mastered commercial content which offers structure, connectivity and global consistency which are all essential for any Master Data Management—or even Enterprise Data Management initiatives,” Vel adds.
Successfully Engaging Enterprises with Data
With almost two centuries of existence, Dun & Bradstreet has been a cornerstone of the B2B information services market helping enterprises grow their most valuable business relationships. In its early days, Dun & Bradstreet pioneered the concepts of using trade experiences to assess credit risk, enabling companies to manage credit risk of their customers and suppliers. Dun & Bradstreet’s trade credit line of products remains a key part of its business even today, though the company’s offers have broadened significantly to include a wide variety of data about commercial entities globally.
Today, Dun & Bradstreet collects, curates, and maintains firmographic information on more than 295 million commercial entities globally.
Central to Dun & Bradstreet’s Master Data solutions are two key concepts: unique identification of companies and understanding corporate hierarchies
They have also realized that by offering their data assets for use by customers, they can also serve their customers’ sales and marketing needs as the trusted source to manage customer relationships and identify new opportunities.
A crucial component to successful enterprise data management and MDM programs, Dun & Bradstreet Master Data solutions aid customers in structuring their data and connecting data across different parts of the organization. D&B Master Data Solutions can be licensed directly from the company, or through any of its MDM software provider partners.
Data Management in the Era of Information Overload
Looking back a couple of decades, Vel notes that one of the biggest challenges that companies faced was insufficient quantities of data required to make well-informed decisions. Today, that problem has fundamentally reversed; “there is so much data that you struggle to make sense of it,” adds Vel. Another striking change has been in the way businesses today source or interpret data; it is no longer limited to the purview of the IT teams, as almost every team in the organization creates and consumes data in some form or another. Many organizations are establishing ‘Chief Data Officer’ roles and teams to help establish an enterprise data strategy and govern ways to ensure the consistency and accuracy of information creation, curation and use across all parts of an organization.
An example that Vel provides is when two divisions of a business, such as the customer experience team and the sales team, interact with a client, they need to ensure they are providing the customer a seamless experience. This can be achieved only when the two teams are working from the same view of customer information. Ideally, the company performs a merge of information from siloed departments into a master customer file, often called a “customer master.” With a customer master, each time a team communicates with the client, they are able to identify the company accurately and have the latest information about the client at their disposal. The customer master, when combined with the right firmographic and operational information, also offers a deeper knowledge of the business entity, such as organizational hierarchy and global business relationships. This allows an organization to recognize that a new customer is a part of a larger corporate family that they currently do business with and make smarter business decisions. Dun & Bradstreet’s identity and hierarchy management capabilities, as part of a comprehensive Master Data solutions portfolio, accomplish exactly that.
Central to Dun & Bradstreet’s Master Data solutions are these two key concepts: unique identification of companies and understanding hierarchies/linkages. Foremost is the part that caters to the identification of a company; the Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S® Number. This is a unique identifier assigned to each entity (company) in the D&B database that helps companies accurately and consistently identify each of their customers and suppliers. Many customers use the D-U-N-S Number as the standard identifier across different departments (like customer experience and sales teams) to recognize a company and communicate with each other without confusion. Others, create their own identifier, using the D-U-N-S Number as a reference point.
The true value proposition of Dun & Bradstreet’s Master Data solutions lies in the ability to help a company harmonize its data on key relationships (e.g. customers, suppliers, partners) by leveraging D&B’s trusted global data.
There are several ways customers can access Dun & Bradstreet’s Master Data. The flagship product is its API platform, D&B Direct. D&B Direct essentially enables the “Master Data-as-a-service” or M-DaaS model, through which Dun & Bradstreet provides companies access to identity and hierarchy management as part of pre-mastered reference data with the latest information that is updated multiple times during the course of the day. Another offering, D&B Optimizer, is suited for those organizations that need to manage large volumes of information where batch data movement models works better with existing processes. “Although D&B Optimizer remains an important part of our Master Data solution portfolio, customers are rapidly embracing the as-a-service value and real-time access to the freshest data that D&B Direct provides,” says Vel.
Trail of Success
One of the biggest drivers behind the wide acceptance of Dun & Bradstreet’s Master Data solutions is its holistic approach to providing customers with a foundation for their data management programs. This has proven valuable to many companies. As one example, a leading technology company was challenged to bring together all the data from their siloed enterprise platforms to create a reference master to power their organizational workflows. The company realized that workflows were being negatively impacted because each system had different information on key business relationships. Employing D&B Master Data, the customer was able to create their own master. Once the master was established, the customer also needed to keep it up-to-date in real-time. With the help of D&B Direct, every time the company interacted with a new prospect or onboarded a new customer, Dun & Bradstreet was able to instantaneously update that information in the client’s reference master. D&B Direct’s prowess not only lies in the addition of new data, but also the ability to detect changes in existing data—such as change of any firmographic information that would affect workflows and actions associated with that customer—and promptly modify the customer’s master in real-time.
The Path that Lies Ahead
Observing the sustained exponential rise in the volume, variety, and velocity of data, Vel foresees greater relevance and need for D&B Master Data, especially as customers really embrace digital transformation. Thus, as a part of the growth plan, Dun & Bradstreet intends to continue investing in their “as-a-service” model—while bringing more Master Data-related products to market.
“One of the things that makes us successful is the way we operate, delivering unmatched quality content and capabilities at an unparalleled global scale, made possible by the strength of our worldwide network, both in terms of data supply chain as well as customer reach,” says Vel. As the market evolves, reinforcing the importance of Master Data, Vel is confident that their rich legacy in the data management universe and appetite for innovation will continue to remain driving forces behind their success in the data marketscape.
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