SAP Master Data Governance – Roadmap Session at SAP Sapphire
(If you prefer listening to reading, you can also watch this video where I cover the content of this post in an online session.)
Last week, I outlined our plans for the SAP Master Data Governance solution portfolio at Sapphire, Orlando.
The roadmap session was fully packed, and our plans resonated well with the audience. There was great interest in our session, and we were privileged to be able to use the room for more than 30 minutes of additional time for Q&A afterwards. Now that I’m back home and over the jetlag, I would like to share the news with you in the SAP Community. (The slides below are the ones I used in the Sapphire session.)
Please note that the roadmap disclaimer indicating that future items are subject to change applies.
To get started, let me very briefly explain what SAP Master Data Governance (MDG) is, and which topics it addresses.
From our customers, we understand that the key purpose of master data management is to improve the quality of master data and to get a corporate-wide understanding of master data, so that they can run and optimize their business on a solid basis. That is why our master data management (MDM) product strategy is embedded into SAP’s broader business solutions strategy.
As you may know, companies take different approaches to MDM. For example, some allow for de-central ownership of master data and create a collective understanding by using master data consolidation to create key mapping between detected duplicates and to create a golden record. Others prefer central ownership of master data and distribute master data that is always created in high quality. Some companies decide to take a de-central approach for some domains – for example, customer master data – and a central approach for other domains – for example, when introducing new products. On top of that, many companies constantly monitor how the quality of master data evolves. And then they react if they find issues.
SAP MDG supports all these approaches and all combinations of these approaches in a very integrated and organized way, and this is very much appreciated by our customers.
Accordingly, SAP MDG is one application for all master data. It is not only for SAP master data. It comes with a lot of out-of-the-box, domain-specific capabilities that are, of course, based on SAP’s data models and business logic. But it is also a platform that is used by many customers to build master data governance processes on extended data models and completely custom-defined master data domains.
One of the key strengths of MDG is that all the processes for central governance, for consolidation, for data quality monitoring and remediation are all integrated and can be combined as required to cover all use cases and all implementation styles, for a complete enterprise master data management program.
Talking about the roadmap, our strategy and vision for MDG has been very consistent over the past years. And we are successfully executing along this vision. Our roadmap for MDG is driven by our core beliefs and by trends that we see in the market. We believe SAP can provide much more value to our customers than just any MDM tool provider, because we understand how master data is used in a business context. Leveraging this understanding, we create benefits for our customers. We can provide master data management capabilities that truly support many domains, many industries, and all approaches, embedded into the business. We have proven this with SAP MDG, and we will continue to deliver on this unique promise.
In addition, we see certain trends in the market, which I will get into in more detail below. First, I’d like to highlight how interrelated these trends are. For example, new sources for trusted data in the cloud, or data sharing in business networks in the cloud, will allow for more automation in keeping your master data records up to date. Or take the fact that digitization demands for higher volumes and better quality of master data, therefore needing more automation in master data management. As we all know, the market for business application software is moving towards modular applications and towards the cloud. For most companies, this move to the cloud is done in more than one single step. To allow for a step-by-step journey, modularization is a key enabler that allows to also move MDM capabilities to the cloud step-by-step, as required by the applications.
Let’s talk about the first trend: cloud. When business applications are moving to the cloud, the master data itself also needs to be provided there. And it is of course possible to fulfill this need with MDG. But we also make a pledge for use in the cloud: for example, we will continue to provide cloud-based master data integration services on the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP), and we will build out data quality services as microservices in the cloud. We currently offer Address-Validation-as-a-Service against always up-to-date address directories in the cloud, making sure you don’t have to to update address directories locally.
I already mentioned that a stepwise move of business applications to the cloud demands for a modular approach to MDM. We are addressing this need with federation of MDG. This will by the way also help to meet the increasing number of local compliance regulations that emerge in many countries. Modularization and cloud consumption will also enable our customers to get to a positive return on investment much faster and to grow their enterprise MDM program exactly where it’s needed for their strategic business initiatives. More on this further below.
Master data is the key resource of any digital transformation. We will enhance MDG to help companies become more intelligent, more agile, and to always process data compliantly.
Digitization will demand for modular, specialized business applications and we will help to provide harmonized, high-quality master data to these applications to enable end-to-end processes for Intelligent Enterprises. The key drivers we are focusing on are automation enablement, efficiency, and master data quality management.
In the modular application landscape of the future, providing frictionless digital processes will be a challenge. SAP’s Business Technology Platform (BTP) will be the foundation to achieve these end-to-end processes across specialized applications. SAP One Domain Model as the common language and SAP Master Data Integration for SAP and non-SAP integration will enable this.
And this will provide our customers with a very high return on their investment in master data quality, because BTP’s common data foundation will allow to broadly apply artificial intelligence as well as analytical scenarios to all data, and this is then powered by high quality master data provided by SAP MDG.
We actually see clear proof of this interrelation of digitization and investment in master data management, as many of the current SAP S/4HANA transformation programs at our customers use SAP MDG to prepare this fundamental move for their company.
As discussed, digitization is one of the key drivers for automation in MDM. We will leverage SAP’s deep knowledge of business applications, analytics, and business networks to reduce the need for manual tasks in achieving high master data quality. We are leveraging third-party data providers to drive automation in master data creation. We provide ways to predict master data attribute values from the application context, and we plan to continue to use more artificial intelligence to support master data quality tasks. This will help to reduce the human effort in MDM and to avoid human errors.
This kind of automation will need an agile, rapidly-scaling MDM solution that can be extended fast, scales quickly, and easily integrates with new systems, new business processes and new data types. It is our belief that in the long run a modular approach to MDM will be more effective to meet this agility, more effective than a monolithic approach.
Let us now talk about Federation. I already pointed out how a more modular application landscape requires a modular approach to MDM and what other benefits for agility, speed, efficiency, and total cost of ownership (TCO) we expect from that approach. Accordingly, we provide this additional deployment option for MDG.
We believe in providing choices and non-disruptive journeys for our customers. That is why this additional deployment option is not only for new customers: it can also be used by existing customers by adding to their current implementation and safeguarding their earlier investment in SAP MDG.
As of today, most companies use one single MDG system to centrally manage the master data for the entire enterprise. And everybody can continue to do so. However, for some companies, one single monolithic MDM system for the whole company already presents some challenges. And as we discussed, these will even increase in the future.
The innovative approach with a federated MDG landscape will allow these companies to go for a more modular approach. They can, for example, get their MDM journey started with an extremely low initial investment by just subscribing to a highly standardized Software-as-a-Service solution just for core master data attributes (SAP MDG, cloud edition). And then, in the future, they can grow into a platform approach, or they can federate to more application-specific deployments of MDG, and manage master data aspects exactly where they are best understood. We believe that we will provide companies with a faster time to value, with increased flexibility that enables a broader MDM scope, and with a lower TCO.
In this blog post on the complete MDG roadmap I cannot dig into all the concepts of federation and its benefits in detail. There have been numerous publications on that topic, like this one. We will just focus on the basics here.
Let me explain the deployment options for SAP MDG we are planning to provide to our customers: The key difference is whether you want one single global MDG system – we call this a centrally-managed MDG, or whether you want a federated network of several MDG systems. These are the two different columns of the two-by-two-matrix above.
Within centrally-managed MDG, the question is whether you want a public cloud software-as-a-service solution for the core data attributes. This would be SAP MDG, cloud edition in the upper left box. Or whether you want to govern core attributes and also SAP S/4HANA attributes. Then you should use SAP MDG on SAP S/4HANA.
For federation you need to decide who the one global owner of the core data should be. Data ownership is one of the key concepts of federation. At one central point, you define for the complete organization which part of the master data is owned by which system. There is always one single system that is the core data owner. This system, for example, decides whether any business partner is a global duplicate. And this core data owner also orchestrates the federated process across all MDG systems. This core data owner can either be SAP MDG, cloud edition – the top right box – or SAP MDG on SAP S/4HANA – the bottom box.
In addition to that one core data owner, you can have multiple application data owners. Each one of these owns different aspects of the master data – perhaps for one region or for one business unit. These application data owners will typically be co-deployed with existing operational SAP S/4HANA systems that you have in your landscape for that region or that business unit anyway.
I must add that parts of this picture are still future roadmap topics. In particular, I’m referring to the business partner domain as the first master data domain. More domains will follow over the next few years. At the end of this post, you will also get a multi-year outlook and I will explain what exactly is planned by when. But with the above overview, I wanted to give you the full picture.
For centrally-managed MDG as well as for core data owners, we plan to support either SAP MDG, cloud edition or SAP MDG on SAP S/4HANA private cloud or on-premise. For application data owners, we intend to support all versions of SAP S/4HANA including public cloud.
This concludes what I wanted to say on modularization (or the additional option to deploy MDG in a federated network) and the other trends.
Before I explain one additional option we will introduce for MDG very soon, let me first set the context by explaining what ABAP Cloud is.
Some of you may have heard our board member Jürgen Müller talk about this at the SAP TechEd Keynote a few months ago. Or perhaps you have already read more details about it. For those of you who have not: ABAP Cloud is an evolution of the classic ABAP development model. ABAP Cloud allows building cloud-ready business applications, services, and extensions.
ABAP Cloud has first been made available via the SAP BTP ABAP environment (also known as “Steampunk”), but in late 2022 it has also been made available in SAP S/4HANA public cloud, private cloud and on-premise. Maybe you have heard the term “embedded steampunk”. In BTP and S/4HANA public cloud, the clean approach with ABAP Cloud is the only supported way to develop own applications or to extend SAP’s applications, while in S/4HANA private cloud and on-premise, Classic ABAP is still allowed in addition.
What does this mean for our customers? Let me first state that everything that runs today will also run tomorrow. But there is the option to start leveraging the benefits of ABAP Cloud. You can start building new extensions using ABAP Cloud. You can switch this on for the development object you are working on, and the system will check whether you adhere to the rules of ABAP Cloud – like only using released and stable APIs and only using certain language artifacts. And you can make sure that all future extensions are upgrade-proof by design.
You can also have the system check your existing extensions and see what changes would be required to transition them to ABAP Cloud. If you have already read more on ABAP Cloud, this is referred to as “tier 1” extensions. If you cannot immediately replace the full code, it might be possible to wrap the existing code so that the wrapper is already clean, and only in the encapsulated classic code, you need to check what is fit for the cloud and for upgrades – this approach is referred to as “tier 2”.
Again, ABAP Cloud was first available on SAP BTP and is now available on S/4HANA as well. I gave this quick insight into ABAP Cloud because – building on the benefits of ABAP Cloud – we are introducing the “cloud-ready mode” in SAP MDG.
The cloud-ready mode is an additional option of how you will be able to configure and extend processes and applications in MDG. Cloud-ready mode in MDG follows the same golden path that ABAP Cloud is currently paving. Similarities in strategy and roadmap are intentional.
As I just pointed out, the new cloud-ready ABAP development model was first introduced in Steampunk allowing customers to build custom ABAP apps and extensions in the cloud on SAP BTP.
In the same way, cloud-ready mode was introduced in SAP MDG, cloud edition in 2021, allowing customers to run MDG for business partners in the cloud on SAP BTP. We did not really talk much about that fact, because as of today, SAP MDG, cloud edition is a multi-tenant Software-as-a-Service solution. We do not yet provide the solution as a Platform-as-a-Service offering. We intend to do this in the future. Only then, customers and partners will have full access to the ABAP environment and they can code their own extension in MDG, cloud edition. Only then will you actually see that there is ABAP Cloud (under the hood).
The ABAP Cloud development model is now also available in all SAP S/4HANA editions, allowing customers and partners to build cloud-ready and upgrade-stable custom ABAP Cloud code, directly on the SAP S/4HANA stack. We will make use of that for cloud-ready mode in MDG.
We plan to enable the cloud-ready mode first in SAP MDG on SAP S/4HANA cloud, private edition and on-premise, with the 2023 release of SAP S/4HANA. And as a next step, in SAP S/4HANA cloud, public edition in the year 2024.
We will focus on the business partner domain first and add more domains later. In addition, cloud-ready mode in MDG will in the future offer a framework ready for the cloud that allows our customers and partners to extend existing domains or build new domains. Of course, all extensions and new domains can be implemented with ABAP Cloud either in SAP MDG on SAP S/4 HANA (as embedded Steampunk) or in SAP MDG, cloud edition on SAP BTP (on Steampunk).
All of this are still topics on the roadmap and as I already said, I have an overview of planned innovations per year further below. But how will our customers be able to benefit from this new option?
Wherever cloud-ready mode is already offered, each company can choose which option to use, classic mode or cloud-ready mode. For all new customers, we will of course recommend to directly switch on cloud-ready mode for the available domains to ensure that all their extensions are ready for the cloud.
There will be a few scenarios where it will be required to switch on cloud-ready mode: for example, if you would like to use the benefits of data ownership in new processes for federation in MDG. But since a parallel use of classic and cloud-ready mode is supported, you can start using cloud-ready mode in selected use cases and then step-by-step convert your processes to cloud-ready mode – if you would like to use the benefits of cloud-ready mode also for your existing processes.
Once you take a closer look at the new cloud-ready mode, you will notice that all processes are completely based on the latest SAP Fiori technology, leveraging all the benefits of Fiori, like easy adaptions and using Fiori elements for a very consistent user experience, also very consistent compared to the latest versions of other SAP applications.
If you switch on cloud-ready mode, you will notice a very congruent process design across all processes in SAP MDG, for example also between single-object processing and mass processing. For very simple extensibility cases, adaptation via predefined fields is provided, and there are some new capabilities like integration of cloud services or data providers into your processes.
As mentioned before, we intend to introduce this very consistent approach and architecture across all versions of SAP MDG on SAP BTP as well as on SAP S/4HANA on-premise, private cloud and public cloud.
Let me just highlight two more planned innovations before I will summarize our plans by providing the roadmap overview. The first topic is data provider integration:
As you may have noticed, we have already started providing first scenarios for data provider integration in SAP MDG, cloud edition: we offer creation and enrichment of business partner data based on reference data from our partner Corporate Data Quality. The goal is to help our customers increase the automation in master data management. You should be able to leverage high quality data that is provided by trusted sources or that you share with other companies in a community approach.
We currently offer the creation and enrichment of single records. In the future, we also want to enable mass scenarios with automatic updates of changes coming from the data providers. We also want to provide out-of-the box connectivity to other providers like Dun & Bradstreet and to enable you to connect your own data provider of choice. And we plan to bring these capabilities to MDG on S/4HANA with a first delivery this year.
The last roadmap item that I would like to highlight here is business partner hierarchy management:
The goal for this topic is an application-agnostic legal business partner hierarchy. Don’t get me wrong: this is not supposed to only be manual maintenance of a hierarchy. This, too, is planned to involve automation of the process. The idea is that you can use data sources like external data provides to retrieve legal hierarchies (like a Dun & Bradstreet family tree) and that MDG can load that data and solve conflicts, for example, if there are incompatible changes.
Of course, there are manual maintenance and processes to ensure the governance of the hierarchy changes, but we also plan to provide automatic derivation of your own representation of a legal hierarchy based on the external data, and you should also be able to consolidate changes coming, for example, from file uploads or other sources.
And then we plan to offer replication of the hierarchy information using SAP Master Data Integration services on BTP, so that applications can consume these hierarchies. And SAP is of course also planning to provide the consumption of these hierarchies in various applications as part of the roadmap for these applications.
Also for data provider integration, we plan to provide this capability in SAP MDG, cloud edition first (in the year 2024) and thereafter we plan to provide this in SAP MDG on SAP S/4HANA (most probably in the year 2025).
As promised before, here is an overview as a snapshot of all the innovations we have planned for the next few years. This information is also available (and always up to date) via the SAP Roadmap Explorer.
This table reads from left to right, starting with recent innovations on the left, and then the planned innovations along the years 2023, 2024 and 2025. I know that this looks a bit like an eye chart, and I would anyways recommend that you take a detailed look at the Roadmap Explorer.
For now, I will just highlight some of the most important planned innovations:
- This year, 2023, we plan to provide Federation with SAP MDG on SAP S/4HANA as core data owner for business partner data. If you remember the 2-by-2 matrix above, this is the bottom right corner, which shall then also be possible with the newest release of SAP S/4HANA by Q4 this year. And also for this year, we plan to provide the option to enable cloud-ready mode for business partner data in SAP MDG on SAP S/4HANA.
- Next year, in 2024, we plan to provide the application-agnostic legal business partner hierarchy in SAP MDG cloud edition I mentioned, which is also planned for S/4HANA one year later. And also in 2024, we plan to enable all relevant MDG processes for business partner data on SAP S/4HANA cloud, public edition. This includes the option to use SAP S/4HANA public cloud as an application data owner in a network of federated MDGs.
- In 2025, we intend to focus a lot on the product domain. Maybe as a context, introducing the cloud-ready mode for product data as well as federation for the product domain will require an SAP S/4HANA release. This cannot be done by us in a Feature Pack. As you may know, 2025 will be the next release for SAP S/4HANA on premise and private cloud. That is why we plan to consolidate the relevant innovations for the product domain in that year.
And in addition, there are all the other planned innovations which you saw in the table above and which you can investigate in more detail in the SAP Roadmap Explorer.
This last slide that I presented at Sapphire just summarizes what I have outlined above:
SAP Master Data Governance is the solution for your entire enterprise master data management program. It is an application that provides preconfigured, domain-specific master data governance. At the same time, it is an open platform to extend and build, in order to manage your own master data domains for all SAP and non-SAP landscapes. SAP MDG is also a key enabler that will help you get ready for your future business transformations.
Many things are already available today, and I have also outlined that all the innovations on our roadmap for MDG that follow our main themes of automation and federation to enable our customers’ digital transformation and their path to the cloud. Our roadmap for SAP MDG has its focus on unlocking these additional benefits for our customers, and adheres to our core belief that SAP can do more than just provide a toolbox for master data management.
Stay tuned for more news about planned developments and the future direction of the MDG solution portfolio.
In the meantime, you can stay up to date by following the SAP Community Topic Page for SAP Master Data Governance and joining the Questions & Answers forum and Blog space.