We no longer need to establish the importance of data for good business outcomes. Just like good data is great for business, bad data is bad for it.

A global data management report found 89% of the surveyed demographic stating that inaccurate data undermines the ability of an organization to provide elevated customer experiences. And improving customer experience is now an established global business priority in today’s competitive landscape.

As the volumes, sources, and applications of data increase in today’s global enterprises, there emerges the need to manage this data correctly as master data is often spread across different systems and databases within an organization.

What is master data management?

(Maybe you already know this. Skip ahead if so)

Master data management can be described as “a comprehensive method of enabling an enterprise to link all of its critical data to a common point of reference.” Master data management brings about a systematic approach to data integration which ensures the correct and consistent use and reuse of data.

As businesses embark on their digital journeys, product data, which is a core element of master data assumes great importance. Why? Simply because product data is THE critical influencer of buying decisions.

Reports show that 87% of shoppers rate product content extremely or very important when deciding to buy. We also have to account for the change in the buyer demographic. Today most B2B buyers are millennials who are comfortable with making online purchases. Almost 40% of millennials believe product data to be an important influencer of those buying decisions. 98% of shoppers have pulled back from completing a purchase because of incomplete or incorrect product content information.

Navigating the global operational challenges conundrum for multinationals

With so many data sources and data endpoints, global organizations are finding themselves in great need of master data management to maintain operational standards. Some of these challenges can be outlined as follows:

Providing a consistent Omni-channel product experience

Omnichannel is the present and the future of product experience. As the demand for seamless customer experiences becomes the new normal, organizations have to work towards providing a single, trusted view of product content across the enterprise. Having a good looking website is no longer enough. Today’s consumer wants a near-real-time purchasing journey that mimics a brick-and-mortar experience and gives them all the information they need online, across devices as they would get in a physical store. Seamless is the name of the game.

Given the scale of operations, the global presence and the localization needs of different regions, providing such a consistent omnichannel product experience can be a huge challenge for multinationals.

Companies employing master data management across their business experience 76% greater annual revenue growth and 2.3x greater annual profit margin per customer.

Inventory management challenges

Navigating the inventory challenges is keeping COOs of multinational enterprises awake at night. Given the size of global operations, the scale of the inventory challenge changes too. But along with this rises the complexity of correct inventory organization, and the need for updated and correct product information to be displayed in the correct localized format.

The minute we change geographies, we change formats. Let’s take a simple example. The domestic voltage and frequency are not uniform across the buying world. Europe, for example, uses a voltage that is twice that of the U.S (120V). Japan uses 10 volts. Singapore uses 230 V. Given such and many more changes that emerge the minute locations change, it becomes imperative to organize the inventory and all related product information according to the local settings.

As the complexity of B2B products is increasing, it is becoming imperative to pay close attention to our inventory management to not only ensure that the product availability is not impacted but also to ensure that correct product information is displayed.

Managing a supplier and distributor network

With a big, distributed business comes the challenge of managing a huge supplier and distributor network. It is also a challenge to ensure the optimized and accelerated acceptance and distribution of product content across this network. Maintaining the uniformity and quality of product content can become a challenge owing to local specifications, product versions, multiple catalogs, etc. And then there is the conundrum of managing the supplier onboarding progress and alignment.

To navigate this challenge in a world that is going more digital by the minute, multinationals need dynamic and living relationships between the suppliers and the master catalog of information. They need the ability to transfer catalog information in near-real-time to align with the existing style guides and the ability to transform and transfer their catalog information to meet the demands of this supplier and distributor network.

Building brand experience

As our business environment becomes increasingly customer-centric, multinationals find themselves realizing that product content is central for sales success. Providing accurate and timely product data to marketing and sales channels that is relevant to their region becomes a strategic business priority. However, managing and sharing this information is hard as it spans a complex assortment of attributes, relationships, assets, and records. If the data is compromised here, then the associated decisions become compromised too.

With reliable product data, marketing and sales teams can create more engaging product experiences. They can identify more cross-selling and upselling opportunities. It also helps in eliminating barriers internally and in the partner ecosystem by fuelling effective collaboration. However, to ensure all this we need a single, centralized version of the truth for product data and content.

So where does master data management come into play here? A centralized Master data management platform gives us the cure to these ills by:

  • Maintaining interconnectedness between internal systems and ensuring that all these systems operate with the single version of the truth
  • Creating more transparency between business users and departments to ensure efficient collaboration across the entire product spectrum
  • Enabling better data governance
  • Improving product content syndication capabilities to address global needs in a localized manner
  • Maintaining multi-lingual product information and culturally relevant promotions that help to think globally while communicating at a local level. This also makes expansion into new markets easier.

If you find yourself agreeing about the importance of master data management to tackle the global operational challenges of multinationals, we are not surprised. These observations are born from years of having helped many large enterprises address and navigate their master data management challenges. If product data concerns you, then we may be able to help!