(un)structured

Josh Payne on content analytics, enterprise content and information management

You want a copy of my driver’s license? . . . Again?

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From nytimes.com, via New York State Department of Motor Vehicles

“We’ll need a copy of your driver’s license, birth certificate and wedding certificate.”

I need to dig this information out. Again. Sometimes I have it in my wallet. Sometimes I have to dig around my files. Sometimes I have to go the safety deposity box. The same organization is going to scan another copy of my supporting documentation. My brain is saying “Don’t you already have this? I gave this to you 2 months ago!” but my mouth says “Sure, will do, I’ll fax it right over.”

The same organizations — whether it be insurers, banks, health care providers, government agencies — are constantly asking for the same information from us. The more we interact with the same bureaucracy, the more that bureaucracy asks us for the same information, over and over again. What’s your social security number? Date of birth? Your address? Insurance ID number? And it goes beyond the hard data in forms. Photocopies of this. Faxes of that. Copied and scanned in.

Why?

Though we perceive each of these organizations as unified and whole, oftentimes behind the marketed facade of brand uniformity is a patchwork of

different departments and lines of business. And each line of business frequently gathers and stores this information for their own needs. At a bank, the mortgage group gathers their information that they need. And the retail banking group gathers what they need. And of course the small business group gathers what they need.

Thus ConglomerateBankofYourCountry keeps asking you for the same information. And they keep storing it.  You and I think that they’re sharing all this information. But in reality, for each transaction, we’re dealing with different people in different organizations who probably come from different acquired companies through merger and acquisition. They all have their own infrastructure with their own business applications on their own servers with their own databases. And each of them store copies of all this hard data about you as a customer.

An entire discipline in information management has sprung up to solve these kinds of problems — master data management. Master data is high-value core information about customes (and other entities) that an organization stores. So the master data about me as a customer entails hard data like a clean version of my name, my up-to-date, accurate address, my email and other high-quality data that the organization generates about me — like the types of services I do purchase from them . . . and what services I have yet to purchase from them.

Rather than forcing customers to repeatedly deliver the same information to an organization, master data management facilitates the creation of the golden version of data about me as a customer — and then shares this single view of the customer across the organization to different departments.

Now, when you’re engaging me in a new transaction, or a new customer service interaction, instead of forcing me as a customer to provide all this information, you as an organization can pull up the master data instead. (I’m only touching on the tip of the iceberg here with respect to the benefits of master data management).

Let’s bring this back to ECM (because this post is too long already)

As the name implies, traditionally, master data management has been focused on structured data as opposed to unstructured content. But as we in the ECM industry know, unstructured information — content — makes up 80% of the information in an organization. Unstructured information provides more context than simple data. So as organizations work to solve problems with master data management, its only appropriate that they begin to incorporate the information in enteprise content managment repositories — their trusted content — to fill out their single view of the customer.

Rather than simply incorporating the date of birth in a master data record, organizations can incorporate a scanned image of the birth certificate.

Just as there is a discipline inside organizations to form their structured data into master data, this discipline needs to be expanded to incorporate enterprise content — this “master content” belongs alongside master data to provide greater depth and context to a view of a customer.  As case management applications and records management practices improve the quality and trustworthiness of content, this content — master content — can be delivered to master data solutions to deliver a more complete view of the customer.  More context, readily available means better customer outcomes.

The net effect? ConglomerateBankofYourCountry won’t be asking you and I for our driver’s license . . . yet again.

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Written by Josh Payne

January 11, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Master Content

2 Responses

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  1. […] particular customer — you need to focus on the information you can trust — ideally the master data and the associated trusted content. This trusted content that informs your view of your customer or other entity is “master […]

  2. […] a comment » This is part three in a three part series exploring master content. Part one explored the business need. Part two explored the definition of master content […]


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