According to PC Magazine Encyclopedia, data transparency is the ability to easily access and work with data no matter where they are located or what application created them and the assurance that data being reported are accurate and are coming from the official source. Every industry from medical to retail use and rely on data transparency every day. As my background resides within the retail and consumer packaged goods industry, I am going to focus on this industry to explain the use and importance of data transparency by starting with the overall collection and use of data and then how to obtain the transparency portion of the equation.

With the eruption of digital technologies, companies are collecting large quantities of data about consumers’ shopping habits and actions, both online and in-store; usually referred to as Big Data. Nurturing this trend are innovative, connected products; this includes fitness trackers, Smart TVs, home systems, such as Google’s Nest Thermostat which adjusts heating and cooling as it learns home owners’ habits, and much more that gather and transfer information every second of everyday. The original consumer data collectors were websites and cellphone applications. So, how is this data utilized? With the ability to track users’ actions online, marketers then had ammunition to derive and deliver targeted advertising and content, with the hopes of increasing sales. Today, intelligent, modern technology in physical products, such as a smartphone, allow businesses to collect new types of information, including users’ locations, allowing for geo-targeting, and shopping behavior. This granularity of personal consumer data collection allows rapid, customized, individualized and constant adaptation to users’ preferences; this has become central to the shopper’s individual experience and more importantly a retail marketing department’s dream, since it is essentially the code that unlocks a shopper’s wants and needs. This type of data can also allow pricing departments to price products regionally and even by store level based on price preferences of their shoppers.

To provide a quick example of another industry’s use for this type of data, according to, today’s data streams have made it possible to tackle complex challenges in fields such as health care, environmental protection, and urban planning, for example, Medtronic’s digital blood-glucose meter. The meter wirelessly connects an implanted sensor to a device that alerts patients and health care providers when blood-glucose levels are nearing concerning thresholds, allowing preemptive treatments.

The big question is, how is the data managed and regurgitated? Aside from collecting a shopper’s habits and actions, I am going to shift focus to the actual products that are being consumed. According to Gartner, Master Data Management, or MDM, comes into play for a trusted, single view of product data. MDM product data solutions are products that can:

·        Support global identification, linking, and synchronization of product information across varied data sources through semantic reconciliation of master data
·        Create and manage a single, centralized system of data record
·        Enables delivery of a single product view to all users to support various business needs
·        Support ongoing data master data requirements through monitoring and corrective action procedures

The need for businesses to maintain a consistent, sharable, user-friendly interface to obtain data is at an all-time high and has been a struggle for businesses of all sizes to obtain. Not only is the need at an all-time high, but the importance of it has been rapidly increasing and becoming a requirement within various industries. The ability to achieve this type of product master data and management is especially crucial for customer-centric organizations. The business drivers that are surfacing the need for a MDM solution and a single-view of product information include obtaining the ability to cross and upsell products to drive increased revenues, reduced time to market for new products (the time it takes a product to hit the shelves), better multichannel and omni-channel integration, increased customer service during pre and post-sale, increased supply chain transparency, and increased internal compliance.

The MDM solution can house data such as customer product, material, make-up, services, asset, vendor and financial information; information can become as granular to where ingredients in a food-based product can be traced back to its origin. As data gets this granular, the more room for human-error; MDM allows and ensures that the quality and consistency of the data. There are many companies that can offer this type of solution, but who are the top players who can manage this cluster of data and ensure its path to the user is streamlined, consistent and accurate? Gartner’s magic quadrant has identified the following companies as the leaders in this industry:

·        Oracle
·        Stibo Systems
·        Riversand
·        IBM
·        TIBCO Software
There are also other niche players in the market, but not applicable across all industries or avenues, for example, some solutions are only build for e-commerce, multichannel businesses.

As we only scratched the surface of the need and importance of MDM and data transparency, this should provide a high-level view of what data transparency and management are and what they can derive.
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Liz Skipor

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