What is UDM?
Per Philip Russom of The Data Warehousing Institute, unified data management is the concept of managing data as an organizational asset with the ultimate goal of achieving strategic, data-driven business objectives, such as fully informed operational excellence and business intelligence, plus related goals in governance, compliance, business transformation, and business integration.
Why should we care?
Per his article, data-driven business initiatives (including BI, CRM, regulatory compliance, and business operations) suffer due to low data quality and incomplete information, inconsistent data definitions, noncompliant data, and uncontrolled data usage. UDM helps avoid these problems, plus it enables “big picture” data-driven business methods such as data governance, data security and privacy, operational excellence, better decision-making, and leveraging data as an organizational asset.
What does it look like?
For the platform to be truly unified, all tools in the portfolio should share a common graphical user interface (GUI) for development and administration, servers should interoperate in deployment, and all tools should share key development artifacts (such as metadata, master data, data profiles, data models, etc.) as the article illustrates.
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What is the cost of overlooking it?
When high-growth companies have several siloed applications, there are many business challenges that arise. These challenges can become so severe, that they can cripple growth. Below is a summary of at least four main issues that can hinder your growth if you run a business with disparate business software systems.
- Wasted Employee Productivity: When your company is in growth mode, every employee must be operating at optimal productivity. If your employees are bogged down with inefficient and disjointed processes, it increases errors and takes time away from their more important core duties. Important processes such as order processing, invoicing, expense approvals, and fulfillment, to name a few, can take a lot longer to get completed, and are often erroneous. For instance, your employees may be spending hours manually re-entering order information into the accounting and invoicing system, while other employees pull that same information from your CRM system for their order fulfillment processes and to calculate sales commissions. If any orders are canceled in the meantime, your employees have to sift through mounds of data to reconcile this information again. Such labor-intensive and manual tasks reduce the agility that your company needs to grow.
- Lack of Real-time Visibility: When software systems are un-integrated, you have multiple overlapping databases, and cannot easily get a view of business performance in a timely fashion. Reports showing performance across your finance, sales, marketing, service, and fulfillment departments are crucial to giving you an integrated view of your company’s operations. Most companies simply give up on acquiring this information on a regular basis because of the amount of time it takes to source, extract and analyze this data. For those that do, countless hours are wasted trying to tie unrelated, error-prone, and out of date information together. Consequently, businesses either end up making critical decisions slowly, based on inaccurate information, or they make hasty and risky decisions off of gut instinct.
- Integration Complexity and Cost: With so many disparate applications, IT wastes an enormous amount of time and money on integrating, maintaining, and acquiring new versions of these applications. Often times, once new versions are purchased, even more integration and maintenance needs to be performed for all the different versions of software to work together. Consequently, valuable IT time that could be used to make the business more productive is wasted, while maintenance costs skyrocket.
- Increased Customer Churn: Customer acquisition and revenue growth are key pillars to your company’s continued success. With fierce competition, it is essential that your company provide an exceptional customer experience or risk having customers take their business elsewhere. When customers are unable to quickly get information on their order status, can’t get issues resolved in a timely manner, or have to frequently deal with products being out of stock, they will be less satisfied and less likely to continue purchasing from you. An integrated software system ensures that customers have the right information and customer experience and that your employees have the instantaneous access to all the customer information they need to service and sell to your customers.
Today, companies in virtually every industry are using sophisticated business software to fuel their growth but many are still struggling to keep up with their growth and manage costs effectively because of a hodge-podge of disconnected functional systems causing process bottlenecks and employee productivity issues. Unified platforms are transforming how companies run, and enabling them to transcend growing pains that previously were holding them back from taking their business to the next level of profitable growth.
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