Exploring Data Insights with IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management and IBM Watson Explorer
IBM Redbooks Solution Guide
Published 13 August 2014, updated 08 December 2014
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Authors: Uday Nandam, Whei-Jen Chen
Today’s businesses, applications, social media, and online transactions generate more data than ever before. This data can be explored and analyzed to provide tremendous business value. IBM® Watson™ Explorer and IBM InfoSphere® Master Data Management (InfoSphere MDM) enable organizations to simultaneously explore and derive insights from enterprise data that was traditionally stored in "silos" in enterprise applications, different data repositories, and in different data formats. This IBM Redbooks® Solution Guide provides a quick overview of the 360-degree view of the enterprise data that Watson Explorer and InfoSphere Master Data Management can bring to you.
Today’s businesses, applications, social media, and online transactions generate more data than ever before. This data can be explored and analyzed to provide tremendous business value. IBM® Watson™ Explorer and IBM InfoSphere® Master Data Management (InfoSphere MDM) enable organizations to simultaneously explore and derive insights from enterprise data that was traditionally stored in "silos" in enterprise applications. This data can be in different data repositories and in different data formats.
Applications that are developed by using Watson Explorer and InfoSphere MDM identify data relationships across these silos. These solutions unlock the business value that is inherent in a unified, 360-degree view of the information that is related to business entities, such as application users, customers, and products.
Figure 1 shows how the MDM integration of data from multiple sources enhances the 360-degree information applications that you can create by using Watson Explorer.
Figure 1. Integration between Watson Explorer and InfoSphere MDM
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Research indicates that today’s digital universe contains 2.7 zettabytes (2.7 x 1021 bytes) of data, and this data is expected to grow to 35 zettabytes by 2020. Massive volumes of complex data are being generated at a rapid pace. This phenomenon is known as "big data". Sources for this data include social media, digital pictures and videos, customer transactions, system location and log data, and cell phone GPS signals.
Imagine that you are a customer service representative and that your last caller of the day claims that another representative promised them a significant discount. You have no record of this customer or offer. Not wanting to risk losing the customer, you spend a significant amount of time searching through multiple systems, trying to find the missing link or information. This situation is not uncommon because of the vast amount of information that is available across different corporate sources and the variety of customer touch points.
Watson Explorer provides organizations with a combined, trusted 360-degree view of both structured and unstructured data from within and outside the enterprise.
Master data management (MDM) is a key component to enable a single, trusted understanding of products and customers. It provides the insights that are required to act appropriately.
IBM InfoSphere MDM supports a consistent understanding of master data entities and their relationships. This trusted view can be presented to Watson Explorer to ensure that accurate information is delivered to users. Watson Explorer can also leverage the master record to extract and include visibility from other data sources to create an even broader view of a customer or product. MDM might be unaware of these sources.
The enhanced 360-degree view solution that is delivered by Watson Explorer combines structured data from enterprise systems. These enterprise systems include customer relationship management, supply chain management, order tracking systems, and customer support databases. The data might also include unstructured content from sources such as email, file shares, and content management systems.
This solution creates a unified workspace for customer-facing professionals, marketers, and other decision makers that provide an enhanced 360-degree view of customers, products, and more. It delivers the data and analytics that these users need in context and tailored to their role and current activities.
Applications that are based on the Watson Explorer Application Builder can incorporate data from both inside and outside the enterprise, and analytics in context (Figure 2). The solution can combine all this data and content with analytics that are relevant to the current situation and user role while ensuring that it delivers only trusted data.
Figure 2. Applications incorporating data from various sources
The solution architecture is composed of two main IBM products:
- InfoSphere Master Data Management
- Watson Explorer
InfoSphere Master Data Management provides a trusted view of an entity, such as person, product, or location. The two products are connected through the InfoSphere MDM connector, as shown in Figure 3. The data from different sources is imported and indexed to get a 360-degree view of an entity.
Figure 3. 360-degree view solution architecture
InfoSphere Master Data Management customers gain additional value by capitalizing on Watson Explorer.
Government agencies face demands from taxpayers to provide access to information in an intelligent, citizen-centric manner. For example, someone that is involved in a home-remodeling project does not want to provide the same information to the local planning commission and then to the permit department. Those departments should be able to access each other’s information seamlessly.
Citizens expect the same level of integrated service from government agencies as they receive from top-rated service companies.
By integrating Watson Explorer with MDM, governments are empowered with a complete, citizen-centric, e-Government application solution (Figure 4). InfoSphere MDM provides government services with the agility and flexibility to receive and share information rapidly. With the addition of Watson Explorer, they provide access to a current, accurate, and complete view of citizen and business information, making it possible for them to respond to constituent needs in real time.
Both governments and citizens save time and money, and taxpayer satisfaction increases.
Citizens gain the following advantages:
- Easy access to government information and services
- Instantaneous feedback on issues and topics
- Able to engage in dialogs with officials
Seamless interoperability exists across agencies and departments, enabling officials to accomplish the following improvements:
- Share and view the same information about individuals.
- Reduce administrative costs.
- Increase efficiencies and service levels.
Figure 4. Example of citizen-centric application capitalizing on InfoSphere MDM and Watson Explorer
Banks focus on building customer relationships, yet few can deliver the customer insight that can be used to take action on all channels to transform operational processes. Customer and product information is still fragmented across multiple systems. Without an authoritative master record of their customers and products, banks might struggle to provide consistent service across all channels. This situation can inhibit their ability to sell the most appropriate products to customers or to reduce operating expenses. InfoSphere MDM enables banks to use this strategic vision by helping them make high-value core information available across the enterprise to support critical business processes.
Customers want (and have been given) more ways to interact with their banks. Individuals no longer interact solely with a single local branch. They can call and do business on the web and through mobile applications. Banks must ensure that local branches, call-center customer representatives, and online systems can access all customer information that was collected through all previous interactions. This capability provides a seamless experience for customers, reduces attrition, and drives new sales. InfoSphere MDM enables banks to implement cross-channel integration and match the channel to the individual. For example, a client with a few accounts and lower balances might prefer to use the self-service channel to avoid additional fees. Another customer with a complex financial situation might be willing to pay a higher price for service if they can speak to a service representative in person.
InfoSphere MDM also helps banks recognize customers across multiple systems and provides customers with a complete view of their assets across channels. The result is a consistent experience, whether the customer is banking at the branch, online, or by mobile phone. At the same time, banks can use InfoSphere MDM to help reduce costs, streamline customer information processing, simplify client onboarding and new account setup, and eliminate duplicate mailings.
InfoSphere MDM makes it easy to manage a customer’s privacy across channels, and generate accurate and timely reports for regulatory compliance. Centrally managing the hundreds of reference tables that are associated with regulations might help a bank save millions of dollars, significantly improve data quality, and reduce (by weeks) the time that is required to complete all of the necessary reports. Because it helps companies consolidate information, InfoSphere MDM can also streamline business processes. For example, a financial institution wanted an aggregate customer view to enable new marketing strategies and increase the number of products that are owned per customer. This company deployed InfoSphere MDM to integrate data from eight business systems to develop a more accurate view of its customers. The project helped increase the marketing effectiveness of the company's rewards programs and its account penetration.
Integrating MDM with Watson Explorer can further enable an institution to capitalize on internal and external documents and social data. This approach might further enhance its marketing effectiveness by making additional information about the customer available to client representatives, as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5. Example of a client representative window when looking up or engaging with a customer
A wide variety of platforms and combinations are possible for IBM Watson Explorer and InfoSphere MDM solutions. You can find detailed information about the exact platforms that are supported within the documentation for both products:
- InfoSphere MDM
InfoSphere Master Data Management V11.3 has several editions:
- InfoSphere Master Data Management Enterprise Edition
- InfoSphere Master Data Management Advanced Edition
- InfoSphere Master Data Management Standard Edition
- InfoSphere Master Data Management Collaborative Edition
- InfoSphere Master Data Management Reference Data Management
- InfoSphere Master Data Management Custom Domain Hub Stand Alone
InfoSphere MDM ordering information is shown in Table 1.
Table 1. Ordering part numbers and feature codes of InfoSphere MDM
|Program name||PID number||Charge unit description|
|IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management V11.3||5725-E59||Per resource value unit|
Watson Explorer 9.0 consists of several editions, and is only available through IBM Passport Advantage:
- IBM InfoSphere Data Explorer Standard Edition
- IBM InfoSphere Data Explorer Enterprise Edition
Watson Explorer ordering information is shown in Table 2.
Table 2. Ordering part numbers and feature codes of Watson Explorer
|Program name||PID number||Charge unit description|
|IBM InfoSphere Data Explorer 9.0||5725-I17||Per resource value unit|
To find the complete ordering information, go to the ordering information website:
For more information, see the following documents:
- Building 360-Degree Information Applications, SG24-8133:
- 5 Things to Know about IBM Watson Explorer 188.8.131.52:
- 5 Things to Know about IBM InfoSphere MDM Probabilistic Matching Engine for InfoSphere BigInsights™ 11.3.0:
- A Practical Guide to Managing Reference Data with IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management Reference Data Management Hub, SG24-8084:
- Smarter Modeling of IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management Solutions, SG24-7956:
- Aligning MDM and BPM for Master Data Governance, Stewardship, and Enterprise Processes, SG24-8059:
- Implementing IBM InfoSphere Change Data Capture for DB2® z/OS® V6.5, REDP-4726:
Also, product information is available at the following websites:
- IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management product page:
- IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management V11.3 documentation:
- IBM Watson Explorer product page:
- IBM Offering Information page (announcement letters and sales manuals):
On this page, enter IBM Watson Explorer or IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management, select the information type, and then click Search. On the next page, narrow your search results by geography and language.
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This material has not been submitted to any formal IBM test and is published AS IS. It has not been the subject of rigorous review. IBM assumes no responsibility for its accuracy or completeness. The use of this information or the implementation of any of these techniques is a client responsibility and depends upon the client's ability to evaluate and integrate them into the client's operational environment.
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