Cloud multi-domain MDM as the foundation for Digital Transformation

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Upen Varanasi

This guest blog post is an interview by Katie Fabiszak with CEO & Founder Upen Varanasi on the new MDM release from Riversand Technologies.

Riversand is pleased to announce the newest release of our cloud-native suite of Master Data Management solutions. Helping organizations create a data and analytics foundation to drive successful digital transformation was the driving factor behind Riversand’s decision to completely rethink and rebuild a master data platform that would meet the future needs of the digital era. According to Riversand CEO & Founder Upen Varanasi, “We knew we had to make an aggressive move to envision a new kind of data platform that was capable of handling the forces shaping our industry.” Katie Fabiszak, Riversand Global Vice President of Marketing, sat down with Upen to talk about Riversand’s vision of the future and how the bold decisions he had made several years ago led to the company’s own transformational journey and a new MDM solution:

KF:        Where do you think the market is heading?

UV:       Well, we are truly in the digital era. The markets are rewarding companies that are leaders in this digital landscape. This is forcing all companies to truly embrace digital transformation. A key aspect of this transformation is the role of data. Data is the new “fuel” of digital transformation. What matters is how enterprises can leverage data and unlock its power to create better and faster business outcomes. Turning data into insights is a key factor. Another important aspect is to understand the complexities of the information supply chain. Simplifying the flow of data is critical to drive better and faster business outcomes. Let’s take an example from the retail/CPG space: Enterprises want to better understand their customers (utilizing customer insights through AI), create/sell products and services that meet and exceed customer expectations (product positioning through AI), meet their customers across all touch points (channel management), secure their customer’s information (privacy), and interact with trading partners to creating cutting edge product differentiation (cloud and AI).

KF:        Why did Riversand decide to shift gears and embark on what became a 2+ year transformational journey for the company?

UV:       At Riversand, we understood the need to envision a new kind of platform to handle the trends occurring in our industry. We focused on creating a data-driven multi-domain Master Data Management System that has the following properties:

  • A contextual master data modeling environment.
  • A platform that can handle scale, velocity and variety of data, built to handle master data as well as transaction and interaction data.
  • Embedded AI to drive better insights and outcomes.
  • Built on cloud, with the ability to integrate data and processes across hybrid clouds.
  • A highly business-friendly user experience.
  • Apps built on the platform that can solve the “final mile” problem for business users. PIM and customer domain solutions are each apps built on this same platform.

Our goal was to create a platform and solutions that can be quick to implement, provide insights and recommended actions to business users, and automates many of the more mundane data management and stewardship functions. We believe we can provide Enterprises with the critical capabilities from the Master Data Management and Product Information Management space to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

KF:        What are the core values of Riversand?

UV:       Our core values are innovation, commitment & integrity. We have consistently strived to bring leading edge innovation to the market. We have dared to step back at times in order to take a bigger leap forward. What helps is that we have had a long-term view of our company and the industry we play in. We have been in business for 18 years and have been committed to this space and to our customers all along the way. Integrity in everything we do is key in dealing with our stakeholders – employees, customers and partners – and has been our focus since inception. We might not get things right all the time to begin with, but we will always make it right with our stakeholders over time.

KF:        What do you see as Riversand’s biggest strength?

UV:       Our people, our passion for this space and our long-term thinking give us an incredible edge against our competition. We are blessed to have a team who have shaped this company over many years and who are invested deeply in the company and this market space.

Riversand picKF:        What would you say sets Riversand apart?  How is our technology and approach different than the other MDM and PIM vendors in the market?

UV:       The path we have chosen provides clear benefits for our customers with respect to our competition. Some key points of differentiation are:

  • We provide a single platform to help implement MDM and PIM initiatives. No need to create further silos of data and processes.
  • We future-proof both business users and IT users with a platform that is flexible and future enabled.
  • We are built for the cloud and SaaS eras: Upgrades are easy and done by us, and customers can scale with pay as you go models.
  • Our AI engine is built on a big data stack to drive insights and actions for better business outcomes.
  • With our big data technology stack, enterprises have the ability to scale with data and handle both its variety and velocity.
  • A completely new and extremely business friendly user interface and experience that people love to use!
  • The app building toolkit (SDK) to help customers and partners build their own apps so that they can solve their final mile problems: This is in addition to the core apps we are actively building.

KF:        Where is Riversand today along this journey that we began over 2 years ago?

UV:       Our new solutions were introduced as a kind of soft launch with a select few customers over the past year. The feedback and insights we received during this year were extremely useful in becoming enterprise-ready. We are now in a position to launch our platform to the broader market. Over the next two quarters, we will be further enhancing our offerings including: the analytics/AI platform, app SDK for partners and customers, launching additional SaaS appsnd entering additional vertical markets. We also look forward to creating robust partner ecosystems for these vertical markets.

KF:        What’s next for Riversand – what do you envision for the future?

UV:       We are really excited about the potential of our new master data platform and we look forward to working with our current customers as well as new customers to help them with their digital transformation journey. We are disruptors in our space and we will continue to establish ourselves as a larger, bolder and leading global brand.

We hope you enjoyed the interview!  You can check out additional information by reading the press announcement here.

Katie Fabiszak oversees and directs global marketing efforts at Riversand.  She is an accomplished executive with more than 20 years of success in global marketing for high tech companies. She is responsible for leading the strategic evolution of the company’s branding and marketing strategy.  With proven success developing effective marketing strategies to drive revenue, Katie’s extensive career includes marketing leadership positions at Informatica, StrikeIron and DataFlux (a SAS company).

Why next generation MDM and PIM solutions must be in the Cloud

In this guest blog post Shamanth Shankar of Riversand explains why the next generation of Master Data Management (MDM) and Product Information Management (PIM) solutions must be deployed as cloud solutions.

As retailers grow, managing data across their application landscape becomes crucial. Business users and Information Technology (IT) leaders want to choose data management solutions that provide insights to them and provide relevant information to their customers along their purchasing life-cycle. Accommodating scale, speed and different data types requires that data management solutions evolve.

How are enterprises coping with scale and flexibility?

Enterprise software solutions are going through a revolution to accommodate scale and flexibility. Looking at the growth of AWS and Azure, one can imagine how aggressively enterprises are embracing cloud. AWS grew 54.9% year on year and Microsoft’s Azure grew  triple digits over the last five quarters. Cloud is growing at a 22% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR), four times the rate of software spending growth. Flexibility in operating models (Operational Expense vs. Capital Expense), ease of implementation and cost savings lure business leaders towards the cloud. To strike a balance with the legacy of on premise solutions and cloud-based business friendly applications, enterprises will pursue a hybrid cloud model.

Cloud and Retailers

Compared to other verticals, retail has a lower barrier to adopting cloud. Cloud is expected to grow five-fold in retailing. Additional data points supporting this continued accelerated growth of cloud-based solutions, include;

  • Digital commerce platforms are growing at 15% CAGR, driven by SaaS revenues.
  • Non-Store retailers reported 12% year on year growth per the US Department of Commerce.

Retailers invest in various hybrid cloud-based solutions throughout their enterprise to providetheir consumers with personalized attention, constant engagement and better experiences.The central focus of this effort is to provide business users with a better user experience along with consistent data (especially product data) all with the goal of creating great experiences for consumers.

Product Information Management Solution

Synchronization of product data across applications and channels is critical to enterprises for improved efficiencies, faster new product introduction and higher sales. A Product Information Management (PIM) solution provides a single source of truth, high quality product content, global product taxonomies, aggregation and syndication with internal and external sources.

PIM solutions improve sales by providing the right product for the right customer at the right time, improve efficiencies by accelerating new product introduction, reduce supply chain costs and identify bottlenecks through better reporting. By connecting with data pools, vendor data, marketplaces, e-commerce platforms and Digital Asset Management solutions, PIM solutions connect to the entire application ecosystem and keep all the business users on the same page with “Trusted Product Data”. The foundation of this “Trusted Product Data” drives an enterprise towards data-driven and outcome based operations. In such an ecosystem, data models are defined, product data is mapped to marketplace structures, outcomes are measured and changes are accommodated on a periodic basis.

Transformation in Product Information Management

As retailers grow (organically or through acquisition), data models need to be changed, infrastructure needs to be expanded and global variations need to be consolidated into one solution. In addition to strategic topline growth, changing consumer choices, interactions and sentiments force business transformations.

Business leaders and IT leaders want to gain insights from their PIM solution and ensure they are providing relevant information to their customers. They expect a PIM solution to help them solve the following:

Assortment and Product Intelligence

Can they match the relevant assortment and products to the respective consumer segments, and understand  particular consumer’s sentiments?

Channel and Operational Intelligence

 How are the products performing on various channels and what impact does product data quality have on supply chain costs?

Competitive Intelligence

Does the competition differ by merchandising category?
How is the merchandise performing compared to the competition?

Both business and IT users are looking to accommodate this inward-looking information into their application ecosystem.

IT teams are finding it challenging to correlate external data with their internal data management practices. They are looking for cost effective technologies that can provide insights into underperforming product segments.

Merchandising teams curating product content have limited to nonexistent abilities to map or correlate product content to consumer segments, competitors, or sentiment via social channels.

Customer service teams are trying to analyze and draw insights from consumer and market segment analysis and marry them with category specific context.

Next Generation Solution

Current data management solutions need to evolve to manage increasing master data  and related expanding data pools at scale. These solutions will have to be based on hybrid technology frameworks involving SQL, NoSQL, Graph and persist both structured and unstructured data. To provide higher Return on Investment and lower Total Cost of Ownership to retailers, such solutions will need to be able to scale in or out with a pay-as-you-go model. Considering that enterprises will continue supporting on premise, private cloud and public cloud models, PIM solutions must provide all these capabilities both on premise and in the cloud.

Next Generation data management will bring global business complexities together into a single solution that is web-scale, dynamically configurable and offers the best user experience for both business and IT teams.

Shamanth Shankar supports business operations at Riversand. Till recently Shamanth led Marketing at Riversand. Prior to Riversand Shamanth consulted clients on Data & Analytics products, led S&OP at a manufacturing company and managed a Product Line at a public company. Shamanth holds degrees from Rice, Texa A&M and IIT Madras.

industry and Internet of Things concept. woman working in factory and wireless communication network. Industry4.0.

4 Vendor Paths to Multidomain MDM

In short, multidomain Master Data Management (MDM) is about handling all core business entities under a single regime. This encompasses customer MDM, vendor MDM – or better unified party / business partner MDM, product MDM, location MDM, asset MDM and the relations between those domains.

MDM VennAs a user organization you may choose the buy these technologies separately or buy a multidomain MDM solution from a given vendor.

There are a range of available multidomain solutions on the market. These solutions have been assembled in different ways. Below are 4 paths various vendors have taken to offer a multidomain MDM solution:

Acquisition

Mega-vendors as IBM, Oracle and Informatica have bought best-of-breed solutions and wrapped those under the brand. Taking advantage of this offering will typically mean also choosing other technologies from there whole application stack and the technologies that handles the various domains will not be exactly the same.

ADM

ADM stands for Application Data Management. Some offerings are an extension to an ERP suite. The predominant example is SAP MDG. With SAP MDG you get a close integration and a data model fit with the popular SAP ECC solution. However, if you want to include other sources, you may have a hard time doing that.

PIM

Some former traditional Product Information Management (PIM) vendors have successfully transformed their solution into a true multidomain MDM solution. This includes (all from this list) Enterworks, Riversand and Stibo Systems. Recently Stibo Systems announced that their last year’s impressive growth was led by increased demand for multidomain solutions.

Natural born

Other solutions are built up from scratch and thought through as a multidomain MDM solution. Examples includes Orchestra Networks, Reltio and Semarchy.

8 Forms of Master Data Management

8 forms MDM

Master Data Management (MDM) can take many forms. In the following I will shortly introduce 8 forms of MDM. A given MDM implementation will typically be focused on one of these forms with some elements of the other forms and a given piece of technology will have an origin in one of these forms and in more or less degree encompass some more forms:

1.      The traditional MDM platform: A traditional MDM solution is a hub for master data aiming at delivering a single source of truth (or trust) for master data within a given organization either enterprise wide or within a portion of an enterprise. The first MDM solutions were aimed at Customer Data Integration (CDI), because having multiple and inconsistent data stores for customer data with varying data quality is a well-known pain point almost everywhere. Besides that, similar pain points exist around vendor data and other party roles, product data, assets, locations and other master data domains and dedicated solutions for that are available.

2.      Product Information Management (PIM): Special breed of solutions for Product Information Management aimed at having consistent product specifications across the enterprise to be published in multiple sales channels have been around for years and we have seen a continuously integration of the market for such solutions into the traditional MDM space as many of these solutions have morphed into being a kind of MDM solution.

3.      Digital Asset Management (DAM): Not at least in relation to PIM we have a distinct discipline around handling digital assets as text documents, audio files, video and other rich media data that are different from the structured and granular data we can manage in data models in common database technologies. A post on this blog examines How MDM, PIM and DAM Stick Together.

4.      Big Data Integration: The rise of big data is having a considerable influence on how MDM solutions will look like in the future. You may handle big data directly inside MDM og link to big data outside MDM as told in the post about The Intersection of MDM and Big Data.

5.      Application Data Management (ADM): Another area where you have to decide where master data stops and handling other data starts is when it comes to transactional data and other forms data handled in dedicated applications as ERP, CRM, PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) and plenty of other industry specific applications. This conundrum was touched in a recent post called MDM vs ADM.

6.      Multi-Domain MDM: Many MDM implementations focus on a single master data domain as customer, vendor or product or you see MDM programs that have a multi-domain vision, overall project management but quite separate tracks for each domain. We have though seen many technology vendors preparing for the multi-domain future.

7.      MDM in the cloud: MDM follows the source applications up into the cloud. New MDM solutions naturally come as a cloud solution. The traditional vendors introduce cloud alternatives to or based on their proven on-promise solutions. There is only one direction here: More and more cloud MDM – also as customer as business partner engagement will take place in the cloud.

8.      Ecosystem wide MDM: Doing MDM enterprise wide is hard enough. But it does not stop there. Increasingly every organization will be an integrated part of a business ecosystem where collaboration with business partners will be a part of digitalization and thus we will have a need for working on the same foundation (doing Multienterprise MDM as Gartner coins it) as reported in the post Ecosystem Wide MDM.

PS: If you are a vendor on the MDM, PIM or DAM market you can promote your solution here on the list and emphasize on the forms you support. Registration can be done here.

MDM Fact or Fiction: Who Knows?

Over at the IRM connects blog Aaron Zornes wrote about MDM & Data Governance Market 2018-19: Facts vs. Beliefs.

It is always fun to be entertained by analysts bashing each other and Aaron Zornes makes no exception in his blog post when pointing out that it took Gartner 12 years to realize that there are not two MDM markets anymore (Customer MDM / CDI vs Product MDM /PIM) but only one.

Also, the recent vitalized notion of Application Data Management (ADM) by Gartner gets a few words about who is lagging and who is leading in market analysis.

Else the two entertaining trends the coming years will according to Aaron Zornes be Graph databases and machine learning.

MDM ADMSo, a lot of questions for buyers and vendors are piling up:

  • Should your solution be multi-domain MDM or will there still be room for specialized CDI (Customer Data Integration) and PIM (Product Information Management) solutions?
  • Does ADM (Application Data Management) solutions, meaning building your master data capabilities inside ERP, CRM and so make sense?
  • Will graph databases really brake through in MDM soon?
  • Can ML (Machine Learning) help delivering business benefits in MDM – and when will that happen?

As the analysts disagree between each other, you can have your say here on the list by commenting on this blog post, under the registered solutions or as a not yet listed vendor registering your disruptive solution.