SAP readies data management app

Ann Bednarz

Network World Fusion (US)

SAP AG Tuesday unveiled software aimed at helping companies manage data in heterogeneous IT environments.

Master Data Management (MDM) is designed to synchronize data across diverse applications, reconciling customer, product or vendor information that’s stored in multiple systems inside and outside an enterprise.

MDM is part of SAP’s NetWeaver integration platform. It incorporates technology garnered from SAP’s integration infrastructure, business intelligence, knowledge management and portal software.

Connected as a hub to multiple systems, MDM allows users to link related objects according to a common data format and share the information with designated systems. Built-in analytical and search tools can identify identical or similar data objects across different systems and cleanse objects to keep master data consistent, SAP says.

As an example, SAP cites a scenario wherein manufacturers, suppliers and customers might identify a specific aircraft wheel assembly in slightly different ways – the manufacturer might identify the assembly as “assembly 85467,” while a supplier might call it “a330 wheel assembly.” If the systems aren’t in synch, redundant data can present a distorted picture of parts inventory, causing supply chain gaps, SAP says. MDM provides a framework to define the reference master data and associated metadata so that the aircraft manufacturer, customers and suppliers share a single definition.

One of the first companies planning to implement MDM is Royal Dutch/Shell Group, which worked with SAP to develop the data synchronization software.

MDM will help the company consolidate master data for its applications and users worldwide, said Willem Zuidema, a systems manager at Shell International, in a statement. In particular, Zuidema plans to use MDM to better track the company’s procurement expenditures. “The initial focus is on procurement, where consistent master data will provide the basis for accurate global spend information,” he said.

SAP first announced MDM at its Sapphire conference in Lisbon last year. It will start shipping the software this week, SAP announced at its TechEd conference going on in Basel, Switzerland.