As 2017 came to an end, and 2018 was still fresh, many industry analysts, journalists, and other thought leaders predicted that 2018 would be the “Year of Data.” With the increasing adoption of technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Big Data, not to mention the (at the time) impending deadline to adhere to GDPR laws in Europe and similar rules anticipated in other jurisdictions like California, the prediction was not too far out on the limb.

And, the prediction was, in many ways, right on the money. Due to high profile data breaches and new regulations, data security has been a much-discussed topic in 2018. AI and Machine learning have made giant steps forward, especially in consumer devices (see Corey Mellick’s latest blog post on the subject.) Big Data, Business Intelligence, and Analytics saw increases in interest and adoption, and, according to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for MDM, published recently, while demand appears to have flattened, it is evident that MDM is now considered to be a foundational element of any data management program. The report also reflected some change in the MDM space with the addition of Profisee and Semarchy while a long-standing technology vendor, Oracle, dropped off the report.  However, the relative position of the other vendor technologies changed very little from the group’s 2017 report, indicating maturity in the market.

For us at Amplifi, 2018 was also the “Year of Data.” We took our decade-plus years of experience and lessons learned working with enterprise companies to address their e-commerce, digital marketing, and transformation efforts, and doubled down on addressing the foundational elements of data management that often determine the success or failure of other digital initiatives. Our ranks grew so much that we had to move into a new, larger, office space in Atlanta and opened an office in Los Angeles. Throughout the year, we have talked to and worked with hundreds of companies ranging from multinational enterprises to regional companies in diverse industries like manufacturing, distribution, retail, grocery, and restaurants, to name a few.

The team has done some great work this year, but, perhaps the most important thing we did was listen. And, based on what we heard from our customers, prospects, partners and industry thought leaders, we feel comfortable making some bold, and some not so bold, predictions for 2019.

Data Teams Will Address Organizational Roadblocks with Non-Technological Processes

Digital transformation initiatives, however they are defined, are disruptive in nature. If planned and implemented well, they will improve operational efficiencies and disrupt the market. However, in the short term, there will always be an element of disruption to existing workflows, operations, and company culture. This internal disruption may be exacerbated by the lack of executive buy-in and support as well as inadequate resources to manage the change.

Managing the “People” side of “People, Processes, and Technology,” was a consistent theme in 2018 and in 2019 we expect to see an increased demand for teams seeking assistance:

  • Building a business case for MDM and other information management solutions
  • Conducting workshops to streamline business processes
  • Creating training materials to foster user adoption of new technologies
  • Identifying internal leaders and assembling teams to manage enterprise-wide change
  • Implementing processes to ease the disruption caused by introducing technological advancements

MDM Solution Market Will Become Even More Mature

While adoption of MDM technologies has become more widespread and mainstream over the last decade, by and large, the implementation of those solutions has been somewhat siloed in its approach. Rather than providing accurate, consistent multi-domain master data to the enterprise, many solutions have concentrated on a single domain, like Customer or Product, and/or are primarily confined to a single department or geographic business unit.

Also, as Gartner notes in its MQ for MDM, the management of non-master data, sometimes known as application data, has expanded due to the recognition that these types of information are essential to augment and enhance master data to expose a “360-degree” view.

In 2019, we will see the market expand past traditional point solutions for MDM to include:

  • More native cloud and hybrid implementation models
  • Higher demand for solutions that support multi-domain MDM use cases and will expose the relationships between master data in different domains for greater analysis and insights
  • Increased offerings of Application Data Management (ADM) solutions that may or may not include lightweight MDM capabilities that address specific use cases like Customer or Product Experience Management or “360-degree” views

Enterprises Will Seek an End-to-End Information Management Solution

Over the past few years, we have seen a welcome demand from companies to progress past merely remediating data and improving data quality to concentrating on efforts to make data actionable. Master data will remain an essential and foundational component of an overall informational management architecture. However, many forward-thinking enterprises are looking to implement more complex integration, business intelligence, and data analytics tools to support a holistic view of their most important asset.

While a “silver bullet” to meet customer demands doesn’t exist, with a proper strategy and roadmap, a robust architecture can be implemented using either point solutions, embedded technologies, or a hybrid of both that will allow a company to better understand their customers, products, and other assets so that they can make more informed decisions.

Data Governance Will Take a Front Seat

Earlier this year, a well-respected industry analyst revealed that one topic of inquiry dominated all others, by an extensive margin. According to research conducted from notes of speaking with leaders at the forefront of implementing digital initiatives within their companies, the topic of data governance was either part of the question or part of the response to concern more often than the next two subjects combined.

Topics like “data democratization” and “data literacy” have been hotly discussed in 2018, and we expect the conversations concerning them, and projects addressing them to increase in popularity in 2019. Enterprise-wide data governance and metadata management that supports the ability of all business users to access the data they need while the proper rules and workflows that govern access to and change management of that data is ensured will take its rightful place as an integral part of any successful information management initiative.