MDM Implementers — Don’t Miss the Portal Opportunity

In my blog on MDM Straightforward Implementation or Iceberg Project, I highlighted the difference between master data integration and enterprise master data management (MDM). A key difference between the two is that enterprise MDM involves the MDM system being the single system of entry (SOE) as well as a system of record (SOR) while master data hubs persist integrated master data and are SORs while existing operational applications remain SOEs. I also highlighted the significant effort involved in transitioning from master data integration to enterprise master data management, and it is here that I want to focus in this blog.

The reason for singling out this transition is because another technology often being implemented in IT presents an opportunity for companies to start switching off screens, form fields, etc., to do with operational application SOEs and move towards a single SOE enterprise MDM system. That technology is enterprise portal technology. Example enterprise portal products include BEA AquaLogic Interaction Portal, IBM WebSphere Portal Server, Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal, Oracle Fusion Portal and SAP NetWeaver Portal.

As companies implement enterprise portal software, one of the tasks that needs to get done is the integration of applications into a single, personalised and integrated user interface served up by portal technology. For many operational applications that are master data SOEs today, integrating them into a portal often means that their user interface needs to be redeveloped to become a portlet-based user interface with multiple portlets appearing on portal pages served up to users. If existing operational master data SOE applications are slated to have their UIs redeveloped to be plugged into a portal, then MDM developers should seize the opportunity to request user interface changes to those systems in order to decommission application-specific master data entry screens and master data attributes on line-of-business application forms. They can then introduce equivalent master data forms or screens that maintain master data as portlets in the portal. These new portlets would directly maintain master data in MDM data hubs rather than updating line-of-business operational application local data stores. Note that portlets associated with MDM systems can co-exist on a portal page alongside operational application portlets, and so the user still sees that they can maintain master data as they did before. The difference here is that data entry on some portlets may be transaction data held in the application data store, while data entry on other portlets maintains master data in the MDM system. By doing this, the transition to enterprise MDM can take place gradually and ‘piggyback’ the budgeted and planned redevelopment of application user interfaces as they get integrated into enterprise portals. This approach enables two things to happen at once: application UI redevelopment for integration into a portal and gradual switch to using MDM maintenance portlets as a single SOE method to maintain data in the MDM system. Enterprise MDM systems can then synchronise changes to master data with other applications hat make use of this data.

So don’t miss the portal opportunity as a vehicle to transition to enterprise MDM!


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