My name is Malcolm Hawker, and for those who may not know me, I am a thought leader and subject matter expert in the fields of master data management (MDM) and data governance. My mission is to help companies recognize the transformative benefits of effective data management by sharing practical and actionable insights on the practices and technologies needed for MDM and data governance success.
Most recently, I was a Senior Director Analyst at Gartner, where I provided best practices and strategic insights around MDM and data governance to the CIOs and CDOs of some of the biggest companies on the planet. It was a fantastic two-and-a-half-year engagement with Gartner, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have worked with some truly innovative people and companies.
While at Gartner I came to the realization that what we were doing to help companies improve their data management wasn’t as effective as I had hoped it would be. While the discipline of MDM has become a critical foundation for the digital aspirations of all companies, many data and analytics leaders continue to struggle with MDM and data governance. MDM best practices are well established and supported by years of research, yet still, many companies lack effective MDM.
If MDM is critical to business success in the age of digital transformation and acceleration, why do so many lack high-functioning MDM programs? Why were so many companies not adopting the practices that are well known to help improve their data management?
Pondering this question led me to conclude that there must be a better way for me to help companies overcome their MDM challenges – which is ultimately what led to my decision to leave Gartner and join Profisee. In this post, I share some of the other reasons for this move and describe why I remain incredibly passionate about MDM and the amazing opportunities within this space that will benefit us all in the coming months and years.
1. Alignment to Strategy and Roadmap
Above all else, I decided to join Profisee because I am confident in the team, its leadership, and its strategy. As a Gartner analyst, I enjoyed VIP access to all aspects of Profisee’s business. I learned about their product roadmap, their strategy and their customer and market focus. In this process, I came to learn what sets Profisee apart from other software vendors in the space and that my recommended formula for MDM success closely aligns with how Profisee approaches the market.
My many years of experience in data and analytics have taught me how critical it is to have a tight alignment between my individual approach and the approach of both my vendors/partners and my employers — and the more I studied Profisee as an analyst, the more I came to realize we shared a very common perspective on the best way to support companies with MDM-related challenges.
This shared perspective was further highlighted during a recent conversation I had with Eric Melcher, the Profisee CTO, where I asked about Profisee’s strategy for broadening their product scope to become more of a data and analytics governance platform. Eric’s answer was a firm ‘no,’ which I found both surprising and completely refreshing. It was surprising given how many MDM vendors are investing heavily in data catalogs, metadata management and other ancillary data management functions outside of MDM within their solutions. Why wouldn’t Profisee be doing what everyone else was doing?
This growing trend of vendors supporting MDM as an enabling capability in a broader governance platform is something I covered extensively during my time at Gartner (which I highlighted in a research note late last year titled “The State of Master Data Management”). This trend is certainly not a bad thing, but it does mean that with limited resources, MDM vendors with a governance platform focus will necessarily be less able to meet as many MDM requirements as they are trying to meet other requirements. More of one will mean less of another.
Vendors that treat MDM as simply a feature (and not a core focus) in a data management solution may increase the risk that customers won’t get as much value from these solutions. This is because most companies struggle with governance. Starting simple and building a strong foundation of MDM is a great way to grow governance maturity at companies with governance challenges, but if your technology choice forces your governance scope beyond what your maturity level can support, you run the risk of both your MDM and governance efforts failing.
Recognizing that companies need the best MDM solution they can afford — and that trying to become something other than an MDM solution could hamper an ability to support current and future MDM needs — is what made Eric’s response so refreshing. And it’s another big reason why I chose to join the Profisee team.
2. Approach to Partnerships
Another aspect of the Profisee strategy that I fully support is their focus on partnerships, particularly in the cloud service provider space. For customers who do want solutions with a broad spectrum of data management capabilities beyond just MDM, the solutions available from cloud providers are increasingly robust. For example, rather than devote scarce resources to building their own data catalog solution, Profisee has invested in a native integration to Microsoft’s data governance solution, Microsoft Purview.
This approach allows Profisee to remain laser-focused on developing differentiated MDM technology that is complementary to the capabilities already incumbent in many larger organizations or available through cloud partners — thus providing customers with ‘best-of-breed’ solutions across multiple data management use cases.
Relying on partnerships to complete a data governance platform puzzle, rather than building things from scratch, will allow Profisee to focus exclusively on continuing to be the best MDM solution in the market.
3. Vision for Customer and Industry Success
A final reason I chose to join Profisee is that I am fully confident that Profisee leadership recognizes that successful MDM is about the delivery of business value — and not just selling seats of software. In my conversations with Reed Gusmus, CMO of Profisee, it quickly became abundantly clear that Profisee is entirely focused on customer and industry success — and that for many the realization of this success is the end of a long road of both increasing capabilities, but more importantly, increasing MDM and governance maturity.
This means that teaching customers about MDM and governance best practices is a necessary step in their ability to realize value — and more importantly — this growth in MDM maturity is as important as the MDM software (and vendor) they ultimately select. Focusing on the goal of promoting MDM best practices across the entire industry, with an equal appreciation of those more practical steps companies can take to avoid analysis paralysis, is how I will support both Profisee and its customers.
Knowing that another former Gartner MDM analyst, Bill O’Kane, had also joined Profisee was the icing on the cake. The Profisee people, strategy and market focus, are a perfect fit for where I need to be in order to fulfill my mission of growing the MDM and governance maturity of companies looking to leverage data to fulfill their corporate objectives.
Any of you who I’ve had the honor of talking to over the last three years at Gartner will know I am incredibly passionate about the power of data to transform organizations. I continue to believe this, and I am excited to have a new platform with Profisee that I will use to share this passion and the depth of insights I’ve gleaned over 30+ years in this space.
In the coming weeks, you’ll be able to look forward to additional insights and insightful content on MDM best practices, and we’ll leverage tools such as podcasts, blogs and other community-driven platforms to share advice from Profisee, other industry leaders, and industry peers on how to advance your MDM journey — ranging from the practical to the conceptual. We’ll even talk about other things affecting MDM, like data fabrics and augmented MDM. In time, we hope that you’ll come to view the insights we provide as indispensable to your growth and to solving your MDM challenges.
I look forward to the journey ahead and to helping all of you get to the point where your MDM program is viewed as foundational to your organizational success. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Let’s figure it out together.