…and never let the audience know how hard you’re working.
An industry colleague recently used a great analogy to describe the problems companies have with their product data. He said their ERP systems are “backstage” and their Web sites are “front stage.” And their messy “backstage” data often ends up in front of the audience — without their costumes or makeup or props, not knowing their lines or where their marks were.
If you’ve ever been in a play, either as part of the cast or the crew, you know how crazy things can get behind the curtain. All that hidden insanity has a single goal: to make sure the actors (and their props and the scenery) are in the right place on stage at the right time, wearing the right costume and reciting the right lines.
But the audience doesn’t see or know about any of that. They just enjoy the show in front of them without thinking about the hectic frenzy going on behind the scenes. (When the audience does see and know about the craziness behind the scenes, that means trouble.)
All of which brings to mind one of my favorite quotes concerning master data management (MDM), from Rob Karel with Forrester:
High-quality and trustworthy data sitting in some repository somewhere does not in fact increase revenue, reduce risk, improve operational efficiencies or strategically differentiate any organization from its competitors. It’s only when this trusted data can be delivered and consumed within the most critical business processes and decisions that run your business that these business outcomes can become reality.
It takes a lot of behind-the-scenes effort to ensure master data is not only clean and accurate, but that it also gets where it’s supposed to be, in the format it’s needed. For a company’s “audience” (i.e., its dealers and customers), that means master data and related content should be managed with enterprise workflow and properly presented as content for Web sites, catalogs, partner feeds, mobile apps, and other media and channels.
You might call this “applied MDM,” the goal of which is to ensure that an organization’s product information looks its best (is cleansed and normalized), knows its lines and has its props (is complete, including digital assets and metadata), and is in the right place on stage (dynamically published or syndicated to multiple media and channels).
Ideally, the audience won’t see the effort involved. They’ll just enjoy the final production.