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Every Enterprise Must Define Its Own Data Management Journey

Laura Hahn, Director, Enterprise Data Management at TD Ameritrade, shares key learnings from her experiences implementing the financial services company’s master data management platform

Every company must forge its own path when it comes to data management.

As TD Ameritrade Director, Enterprise Data Management Laura Hahn says in this week’s episode of the Business of Data podcast, there’s no one approach that works for everyone.

“You have to be careful of borrowing another company’s ‘why’,” she warns. “Start with the company’s strategy and the company’s initiatives and map those onto data capabilities.”

“Be willing for that to look different from any other company that you know about,” she continues. “You really have to figure out the ‘why’ you want to do it that’s specific to your organization.”

TD Ameritrade’s ‘why’ is to arm staff with useful insights about how clients are managing their money by connecting the data across all their accounts.

Hahn explains: “The journey for us has been about moving from account centricity to really understanding the client and all of the money they have some sort of responsibility for and what their goals are.”

The company recently implemented a master data management platform to achieve this goal. Hahn views this platform as being central to the company’s data management strategy going forwards, but says securing support for the project was a challenge.

“I would say, sexier tends to get started sooner,” she quips. “It’s all about appetite in your company to adopt [data-driven] capabilities and bring them into the norms of the firm.”

She says that the key to developing this appetite at TD Ameritrade was identifying who would do their jobs differently if they had access to those insights. From there, it was about speaking the language of those stakeholders to show them what they were missing.

“We really had to work on examples and actually draw from the data itself,” she recalls. “How many accounts does Laura Hahn have with us? Look at all the things she’s doing.”

“You have to drop the data management jargon,” she concludes. “Going around and selling people a ‘single source of truth’ or a ‘mastered client record’ doesn’t mean anything to [most staff].”

Key Takeaways

  • Cater to the needs of your organization. Successful data management strategy starts with understanding your business, not copying others
  • Make data management relatable. Translate the benefits of what you’re doing into the language of the business users you want to help
  • Find a needle you can move. Prioritize projects that align with corporate goals and where there’s sufficient demand from the business for them to drive real value