Musing on Master Data Management, the New York City Water Supply… and Madonna?!

Musing on Master Data Management, the New York City Water Supply… and Madonna?!

By | May 18, 2020

MY DAD WAS A CIVIL ENGINEER for the New York City water department for 35 years, and when I was a kid it was fun to go to work with him when I was off from school because I got to see publicly inaccessible areas, buildings and underground spaces where the guts of the water supply system existed.

I learned all about how massive amounts of water from many different sources were cleaned, treated and filtered every day to supply resources to the many millions of people and businesses that needed it. My dad showed and taught me how the sediment and other particulate matter in the water was removed through cleansing processes known as coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation, and how the water needed to be cleaned to a point where it met strict government standards. I’m not going to bore you with more about these processes, but you gotta love the word “flocculation,” right?

Fast forward to today. In my role as vice president of Master Data Management (MDM) at Sphera, I see many parallels between what New York City does to provide clean water that meets strict standards and how the SpheraCloud MDM solution cleans and standardizes our customers’ master data—also to strict standards. In fact, Sphera has been providing expert master data optimization services for over 30 years, and we are known for having defined and created the standard for naming and State describing MRO-related master data, our Standard Modifier Dictionary (the SMD). The SMD is known worldwide as the optimum dictionary to apply to master MRO data so there are no duplicates and there is no ambiguity throughout the hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of master data records that a customer might have.

The SpheraCloud MDM solution doesn’t stop at just cleaning and standardizing your existing master data. It also provides easy-to-use master data governance tools to make sure newly created data is free of errors and does not duplicate something already in your master data catalog. And the SpheraCloud Governance tools apply the same trusted and proven SMD so that a customer’s master data catalog stays clean and standardized and does not require repeated data optimization service projects in the future.

And much like the water mains and piping that send clean water throughout New York City, SpheraCloud MDM has connectors to send clean master data to the enterprise resource planning, material requirements planning and other systems that need it to help users make the most cost-effective and efficient procurement, inventory and maintenance decisions and strategies possible. Our customers have been achieving Operational Excellence around their MRO master data for decades, and more recently we have seen customers approach us to apply SpheraCloud MDM to other master data, like for products and finished goods, and for industrial and facility services.

I had no idea back in the ’80s that the fun stuff I learned around the New York City water supply would come to mind 35 years later around something that would be called “Master Data Management,” but I’m glad it did!

I do need to mention that the coolest thing that ever happened when I tagged along with my dad to work had nothing to do with the water supply. One early morning I was with him as he did an inspection at New York City’s Central Park reservoir and suddenly the giant pop star Madonna appeared as she was out for a run on the reservoir jogging path. I was a big fan, and my dad and I got to exchange some small talk with her as she wished us a great day. And it was! So, not to be too cheesy, but if you need to “Get into the groove” on cleaning, governing and connecting your master data to support your Operational Excellence programs, please contact us.

Neal Rosen

Neal Rosen is Sphera’s vice president of Master Data Management. He has worked in the EHS&S and Operational Excellence IT space for more than 25 years.

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