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Author's profile photo Corrie Birkeness

Managing Master Data in the Cloud: a guide for Chief Data Officers (CDOs)

Part One: Managing Master Data in the Cloud


What Do CDOs Need to Consider?

This blog was developed from a Thought Leadership whitepaper written by Maria Villar.  Managing Data in the Cloud is a guide to help Chief Data Officers (CDOs) manage data sources, quality, processes, analytics, and more.  This is Part One in a three-part series.

For companies pursuing a “cloud first” IT environment, the CDO must reevaluate the company’s data strategy. While managing all critical data is important, managing data in the cloud requires special consideration.

Let’s assume a company has chosen to run one or more of its business software applications or business processes from a cloud software solution provider, for example, software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), or business process as a service (BPaaS).

Running a cloud software solution involves standard business processes and infrastructure. Whether to use an underlying cloud infrastructure that is private, hybrid, or public is a decision the CIO team must make. Performance and responsiveness will be key criteria of this decision because delighting business users can quickly fail when they have to wait. And wait.


Authoritative Data Sources And Leading Systems

Deciding which critical master data fields will be managed (and where they are to be created, maintained, and replicated) is vital for the CDO. These decisions must be made early in your cloud deployment. The decision becomes even more important when multiple cloud software applications use the same master data.


Data Quality Management

Typically, the primary responsibility and operation for data quality management will still be with the CDO’s data management team and not the cloud software solution provider. To assist the data quality efforts, the cloud software solution providers may provide data quality management services or add-ons.


Data Processes And Lifecycle Management

When deciding which cloud software or master data management (MDM)solution and repository to use as the leading system and trusted source, you will need to consider which data lifecycle processes will be executed in the cloud software solution. Most cloud software solutions can execute these tasks as part of their standard functionality, but it will be up to the CDO team to decide if that capability is used. If you do not use the “out-of-the-box” cloud capability, then a central create-and-update data process and software application (such as an MDM system) must be developed.


Data Liability And Risks

While cloud software environments often have stronger security and data protection than what is found on premise, there will still be risks the CDO must evaluate. In addition to defining the data lifecycle tasks to be performed by the cloud software provider, the CDO must also understand and clearly document the liability risk for data exposure and data risk mitigation obligations.


What Must Be In The Cloud Software Provider’s Contract?

  • Privacy compliance responsibilities, such as the “data processor” role for GDPR and other similar privacy regulations.
  • Data location assessment for where sensitive data (such as customer, employee, and patient information) can be hosted.
  • Security and data transfer risk management to assess the encryption and anonymization provided by the cloud provider.
  • A contingency plan enabling you to switch vendors and ensure all company data in the cloud is provided.
  • Identity management across multiple SaaS, PasS, or BPaaS vendors, including key mapping of critical fields across SaaS.


In our next edition, we will discuss managing cloud data warehouses and analytics.


For more information

  • Read all three of the blog posts in the Managing Data in the Cloud series on the SAP Community (by searching on “Managing Data in the Cloud Series”)
  • Take the outcome-driven data strategy master class.  Start the video course and get the workbook.
  • Read the full whitepaper, Managing Data in the Cloud, discussing each topic in more detail.
  • Visit for tools to help you on your journey to creating an outcome-driven enterprise data strategy.
  • Reach out to us (Maria for North America and Tina for everywhere else) to inquire about a 1:1 enterprise data strategy discussion

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