Category Archives: Master Data Management
While virtual reality isn’t new, the technology has recently been picking up speed in the tech world. With Facebook’s purchase virtual reality company Oculus earlier this year, the momentum behind the technology hasn’t ceased to increase. With the commercialization of a consumer ready virtual reality product next year, what does it mean beyond the realm of gaming? Is it significant for brand manufacturers and retailers? Will VR be a trend, or reserved solely to gaming or will it reshape how consumers all over the world interact with brands and products?
I was only recently made aware of those new technologies, by my colleague Nicholas Goupil. He introduced me to products such as the Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR, which are products poised to participate in revolutionizing the gaming industry. While not a “gamer” myself, it was nearly impossible not to think about the commercial possibilities.
Gaming aside, what does it mean for brands and retailers? Could this new wave of VR products provide customers with experiences that will redefine product merchandising?
Some thoughts on use cases for Virtual Reality
- Travel and Hospitality – Become a globetrotter from the comfort of your home. (Japan example)
- Real Estate – Walk thought a house as if you were there.
- Test drive a new car’s interior from the comfort of your home
- Movies: forget 4K resolution, how about full 360 degrees 4K real time recording and playback?
- Sport events: experience replays or the game in full 360 degrees motion
- Concerts: Have the best seat in the house (no pun intended)
Clearly, VR products like the Oculus Rift are still in development, with consumer products promised for 2015. With the company’s recent acquisition of Nimbus AR, a company focused on making the VR experience a more natural and interactive one, the future of such a product seem endless.
What are your thoughts and expectations with VR? Do you think it will be life changing for consumers and businesses? Rendering large volume digital assets is no longer a issue today. For me Virtual Reality will open total new ways to envision customer experience in 2015 and beyond.
The other day I ran across an article on CMO.com from a few months ago entitled “Total Customer Value Trumps Simple Loyalty in Digital World”. It’s a great article, so I encourage you to go take a look, but the basic premise is that loyalty does not necessarily equal value in today’s complicated consumer environment.
Customers can be loyal for a variety of reasons as the author Samuel Greengard points out. One of which may be that they are stuck with a certain product or service because they believe there is no better alternative available. I know I can relate to this after a recent series of less-than-pleasant experiences with my bank. I’d like to change banks, but frankly they’re all about the same and it just isn’t worth the hassle. Therefore, I’m loyal to my unnamed bank, but definitely not an advocate.
The proverbial big fish in today’s digital world, according to the author, are customers who truly identify with the brand and who will buy the company’s products eagerly, even when viable alternatives exist. These are the customers who sing the brand’s praises to their friends and family online and in person. These are the customers who write reviews on Amazon and give your product 5 stars. These are the customers who will pay markedly more just because it sports your logo. And these are the customers whose voices hold weight with their peers because they are knowledgeable and passionate about the product. I’m sure we all have a brand or two that we’re truly passionate about.
Total Customer Value in the Pool
My 13 year old son is a competitive swimmer and will only use Speedo goggles – ever – hands down – no matter what. He wears Speedo t-shirts to show his support. He talks about how great his goggles are and encourages his teammates to try on his personal pair to show them how much better they are. He is a leader on his team, so when newbies come in and see him wearing these goggles and singing their praises, and finishing first, his advocacy holds weight. I’m sure we have owned well over 30 pair of Speedo goggles over the past 4 years at $20 a pop – and add in the T-Shirts and of course swimsuits – we probably have a historical value of over $1000 and a potential lifetime value of tens of thousands (ridiculous I know!). But if you add in the influence he’s had over others, his value is tremendously more – at least 5X.
This is why data is king!
I couldn’t agree more that total customer value, or even total partner or total supplier value, is absolutely the right approach, and is a much better indicator of value. But in this digital world of incredible data volumes and disparate data sources & systems, how can you really know what a customer’s value is?
The marketing applications you probably already use are great – there are so many great automation, web analytics, and CRM systems around. But what fuels these applications? Your data.
Most marketers think that data is the stuff that applications generate or consume. As if all data is pretty much the same. In truth, data is a raw ingredient. Data-driven marketers don’t just manage their marketing applications, they actively manage their data as a strategic asset.
How are you using data to analyze and identify your influential customers? Can you tell that a customer bought their fourth product from your website, and then promptly tweeted about the great deal they got on it? Even more interesting, can you tell that that five of their friends followed the link, 1 bought the same item, 1 looked at it but ended up buying a similar item, and 1 put it in their cart but didn’t buy it because it was cheaper on another website? And more importantly, how can you keep this person engaged so they continue their brand preference – so somebody else with a similar brand and product doesn’t swoop in and do it first? And the ultimate question… how can you scale this so that you’re doing this automatically within your marketing processes, with confidence, every time?
All marketers need to understand their data – what exists in your information ecosystem , whether it be internally or externally. Can you even get to the systems that hold the richest data? Do you leverage your internal customer support/call center records? Is your billing /financial system utilized as a key location for customer data? And the elephant in the room… can you incorporate the invaluable social media data that is ripe for marketers to leverage as an automated component of their marketing campaigns?
This is why marketers need to care about data integration…
Even if you do have access to all of the rich customer data that exists within and outside of your firewalls, how can you make sense of it? How can you pull it together to truly understand your customers… what they really buy, who they associate with, and who they influence. If you don’t, then you’re leaving dollars, and more importantly, potential advocacy and true customer value, on the table.
This is why marketers need to care about achieving a total view of their customers and prospects…
And none of this matters if the data you are leveraging is plain incorrect or incomplete. How often have you seen some analysis on an important topic, had that gut feeling that something must be wrong, and questioned the data that was used to pull the report? The obvious data quality errors are really only the tip of the iceberg. Most of the data quality issues that marketers face are either not glaringly obvious enough to catch and correct on the spot, or are baked into an automated process that nobody has the opportunity to catch. Making decisions based upon flawed data inevitably leads to poor decisions.
This is why marketers need to care about data quality.
So, as the article points out, don’t just look at loyalty, look at total customer value. But realize, that this is easier said than done without a focusing in on your data and ensuring you have all of the right data, at the right place, in the right format, right away.
Now… Brand advocates, step up! Share with us your favorite story. What brands do you love? Why? What makes you so loyal?
LNC Group analysts recently released their second PIM market and vendor report. And, for the second time, Informatica has been positioned as the leader in the 2014 PIM Market Performance Wheel, issued by LNC in Germany.
Informatica Ranked First in Latest LNC PIM Market Performance Wheel
Informatica’s continued leadership position in the LNC PIM Market Performance Wheel reaffirms the strong execution and vision of our PIM product. Our ranking also reaffirms the acceptance of our product among our customers. Our PIM focus is to provide a data-fueled application that empowers business users to sell their products more quickly. When integrated with Informatica’s leading multidomain Master Data Management (MDM) product (based on our Intelligent Data Platform) our customers have a complete solution. This integrated solution is both flexible and business-user focused. This allows our customers to offer the right product to the right customer at the right time.
It has been a year of strong recognition for the Informatica PIM product line. After being positioned as a leader in the Forrester PIM Wave, being named a HOT Vendor in the Ventana Research PIM Index, the leading position in the Information difference MDM landscape, hitting the bulls eye as champion in Bloor’s MDM report and the highest revenue growth with 57% due to Gartner’s MQ for product data (average market growth was 8.7%), the LNC Market Performance Wheel completes the picture of our PIM vision.
LNC’s PIM Market Performance Wheel covers the top eight ranked vendors analyzing four categories as technology, ability to execute, market strength, and future readiness. These are the key findings:
- Informatica PIM achieved the highest ranking of all vendors with 85 points and leads three of four categories evaluated
- Informatica PIM realized the best in market strength
- Informatica leads the pack in ability to execute
- Informatica has the highest future readiness rank
Read this report to understand the major PIM vendors, including Informatica, and their strengths and weaknesses. Our Informatica PIM delivers real value to customers across multiple industries, business cases, and geographical regions. Informatica PIM helps companies to sell more products, faster.
Informatica PIM provides a centralized platform for omnichannel commerce. We empower companies like yours to:
- Improve customer experience
- Optimize supply chain
- Speed up time to market
The PIM Market Performance Wheel is the perfect resource if you’re exploring a PIM project. Learn more … download the German version now
According to Accenture – 2013 Global Consumer Pulse Survey, “85 percent of customers are frustrated by dealing with a company that does not make it easy to do business with them, 84 percent by companies promising one thing, but delivering another; and 58 percent are frustrated with inconsistent experiences from channel to channel.”
Consumers expect more from the companies they do business with. In response, many companies are shifting from managing their business based on an application-, account- or product-centric approach to a customer-centric approach. And this is one of the main drivers for master data management (MDM) adoption. According to a VP of Data Strategy & Services at one of the largest insurance companies in the world, “Customer data is the lifeblood of a company that is serious about customer-centricity.” So, better managing customer data, which is what MDM enables you to do, is a key to the success of any customer-centricity initiative. MDM provides a significant competitive differentiation opportunity for any organization that’s serious about improving customer experience. It enables customer-facing teams to assess the value of any customer, at the individual, household or organization level.
Amongst the myriad business drivers of a customer-centricity initiative, key benefits include delivering an enhanced customer experience – leading to higher customer loyalty and greater share of wallet, more effective cross-sell and upsell targeting to increase revenue, and improved regulatory compliance.
To truly achieve all the benefits expected from a customer-first, customer-centric strategy, we need to look beyond the traditional approaches of data quality and MDM implementations, which often consider only one foundational (yet important) aspect of the technology solution. The primary focus has always been to consolidate and reconcile internal sources of customer data with the hope that this information brought under a single umbrella of a database and a service layer will provide the desired single view of customer. But in reality, this data integration mindset misses the goal of creating quality customer data that is free from duplication and enriched to deliver significant value to the business.
Today’s MDM implementations need to take their focus beyond mere data integration to be successful. In the following section, I will explain 3 levels of customer views which can be built incrementally to be able to make most out of your MDM solution. When implemented fully, these customer views act as key ingredients for improving the execution of your customer-centric business functions.
Trusted Customer View
The first phase of the solution should cover creation of trusted customer view. This view empowers your organization with an ability to see complete, accurate and consistent customer information.
In this stage, you take the best information from all the applications and compile it into a single golden profile. You not only use data integration technology for this, but also employ data quality tools to ensure the correctness and completeness of the customer data. Advanced matching, merging and trust framework are used to derive the most up-to-date information about your customer. You also guarantee that the golden record you create is accessible to business applications and systems of choice so everyone who has the authority can leverage the single version of the truth.
At the end of this stage, you will be able to clearly say John D. who lives at 123 Main St and Johnny Doe at 123 Main Street, who are both doing business with you, are not really two different individuals.
Customer Relationships View
The next level of visibility is about providing a view into the customer’s relationships. It takes advantage of the single customer view and layers in all valuable family and business relationships as well as account and product information. Revealing these relationships is where the real value of multidomain MDM technology comes into action.
At the end of this phase, you not only see John Doe’s golden profile, but the products he has. He might have a personal checking from the Retail Bank, a mortgage from the Mortgage line of business, and brokerage and trust account with the Wealth Management division. You can see that John has his own consulting firm. You can see he has a corporate credit card and checking account with the Commercial division under the name John Doe Consulting Company.
At the end of this phase, you will have a consolidated view of all important relationship information that will help you evaluate the true value of each customer to your organization.
Customer Interactions and Transactions View
The third level of visibility is in the form of your customer’s interactions and transactions with your organization.
During this phase, you tie transactional information, historical data and social interactions your customer has with your organization to further enhance the system. Building this view provides you a whole new world of opportunities because you can see everything related to your customer in one central place. Once you have this comprehensive view, when John Doe calls your call center, you know how valuable he is to your business, which product he just bought from you (transactional data), what is the problem he is facing (social interactions).
A widely accepted rule of thumb holds that 80 percent of your company’s future revenue will come from 20 percent of your existing customers. Many organizations are trying to ensure they are doing everything they can to retain existing customers and grow wallet share. Starting with Trusted Customer View is first step towards making your existing customers stay. Once you have established all three states discussed here, you can arm your customer-facing teams with a comprehensive view of customers so they can:
- Deliver the best customer experiences possible at every touch point,
- Improve customer segmentation for tailored offers, boost marketing and sales productivity,
- Increase cross-sell and up-sell success, and
- Streamline regulatory reporting.
Achieving the 3 views discussed here requires a solid data management platform. You not only need an industry leading multidomain MDM technology, but also require tools which will help you integrate data, control the quality and connect all the dots. These technologies should work together seamlessly to make your implementation easier and help you gain rapid benefits. Therefore, choose your data management platform. To know more about MDM vendors, read recently released Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for MDM of Customer Data Solutions.
Citrix: You may not realize you know them, but chances are pretty good that you do. And chances are also good that we marketers can learn something about achieving fortune teller-like marketing from them!
Citrix is the company that brought you GoToMeeting and a whole host of other mobile workspace solutions that provide virtualization, networking and cloud services. Their goal is to give their 100 million users in 260,000 organizations across the globe “new ways to work better with seamless and secure access to the apps, files and services they need on any device, wherever they go.”
Citrix is a company that has been imagining and innovating for over 25 years, and over that time, has seen a complete transformation in their market – virtual solutions and cloud services didn’t even exist when they were founded. Now it’s the backbone of their business. Their corporate video proudly states that the only constant in this world is change, and that they strive to embrace the “yet to be discovered.”
Having worked with them quite a bit over the past few years, we have seen first-hand how Citrix has demonstrated their ability to embrace change.
Back in 2011, it became clear to Citrix that they had a data problem, and that they would have to make some changes to stay ahead in this hyper competitive market. Sales & Marketing had identified data as their #1 concern – their data was incomplete, inaccurate, and duplicated in their CRM system. And with so many different applications in the organization, it was quite difficult to know which application or data source had the most accurate and up-to-date information. They realized they needed a single source of the truth – one system of reference where all of their global data management practices could be centralized and consistent.
The marketing team realized that they needed to take control of the solution to their data concerns, as their success truly depended upon it. They brought together their IT department and their systems integration partner, Cognizant to determine a course of action. Together they forged an overall data governance strategy which would empower the marketing team to manage data centrally – to be responsible for their own success.
As a key element of that data governance / management strategy, they determined that they needed a Master Data Management (MDM) solution to serve as their Single Trusted Source of Customer & Prospect Data. They did a great deal of research into industry best practices and technology solutions, and decided to select Informatica as their MDM partner. As you can see, Citrix’s environment is not unlike most marketing organizations. The difference is that they are now able to capture and distribute better customer and prospect data to and from these systems to achieve even better results. They are leveraging internal data sources and systems like CRM (Salesforce) and marketing automation (Marketo). Their systems live all over the enterprise, both on premises and in the cloud. And they leverage analytical tools to analyze and dashboard their results.
Citrix strategized and implemented their Single Trusted Source of Customer & Prospect solution in a phased approach throughout 2013 and 2014, and we believe that what they’ve been able to accomplish during that short period of time has been nothing short of phenomenal. Here are the higlights:
- Used Informatica MDM to provide clean, consistent and connected channel partner, customer and prospect data and the relationships between them for use in operational applications (SFDC, BI Reporting and Predictive Analytics)
- Recognized 20% increase in lead-to-opportunity conversion rates
- Realized 20% increase in marketing team’s operational efficiency
- Achieved 50% increase in quality of data at the point of entry, and a 50% reduction in the rate of junk and duplicate data for prospects, existing accounts and contact
- Delivered a better channel partner and customer experience by renewing all of a customers’ user licenses across product lines at one time and making it easy to identify whitespace opportunities to up-sell more user licenses
That is huge! Can you imagine the impact on your own marketing organization of a 20% increase in lead-to-opportunity conversion? Can you imagine the impact of spending 20% less time questioning and manually massaging data to get the information you need? That’s game changing!
Because Citrix now has great data and great resulting insight, they have been able to take the next step and embark on new fortune teller-like marketing strategies. As Citrix’s Dagmar Garcia discussed during a recent webinar, “We monitor implicit and explicit behavior of transactional leads and accounts, and then we leverage these insights and previous behaviors to offer net new offers and campaigns to our customers and prospects… And it’s all based on the quality of data we have within our database.”
I encourage you to take a few minutes to listen to Dagmar discuss Citrix’s project on a recent webinar. In the webinar, she dives deeper into their project, the project scope and timeline, and to what she means by “fortune telling abilities”. Also, take a look at the customer story section of the Informatica.com website for the PDF case study. And, if you’re in the mood to learn more, you can download a complimentary copy of the 2014 Gartner Magic Quadrant for MDM of Customer Data Solutions.
Hat’s off to you Citrix, and we look forward to working with you to continue to change the game even more in the coming months and years!
The digital industry is increasingly discussing the topic of Commerce Relevancy. Commerce Relevancy makes information relevant to consumers at the right time and place. Specifically, it ensures sales and marketing offers and materials are personalized at the highest level and consistent across all customer touch points. This post will talk about how much Commerce Relevancy matters and will explain the six building blocks that comprise it.
Commerce Relevancy in Fashion
I am a runner. For motivation, I track the majority of my runs on my iPhone. I use an arm band from a leading sports apparel company to carry my iPhone. I’m a great supporter of this apparel brand in general. I love their style so I shop from them frequently. Sometimes, when I travel the US, I shop in their outlet stores. Primarily, however, I shop on their official web-store using my iPad or mobile phone. Since I am a “fashion victim”, it is not easy for me to remember all the channels, shops and websites I have used to buy this brand’s products.
Why am I telling you all this?
For the past few weeks, I’ve repeatedly received email newsletters from this brand, promoting sporting outfits that don’t match my style or size. (Most of the promotion has been products for women, rather than for men, etc.) As a repeat customer, this lack of promotional accuracy has frustrated me. I have purchased many items from this brand. I’ve even shared their logo on twitter and Facebook. Despite my commitment to the brand, the brand still does not know which products I need or which styles I prefer.
Commerce Relevancy in Automotive
I have had a similar experience with my favorite car manufacturer. My wife and I have purchased three of this brand’s cars in the past. We currently lease one of their cars. When I need maintenance, I only visit this brand’s authorized repair garages. I only use official spare parts. Despite my loyalty to the brand, every time I call their stores, I am asked for my phone number. No one from the brand has ever approached me to test a new car, even though my current lease will soon end.
Once, when my current car was being repaired for several days, I requested permission to test drive a particular model, until my current car was ready. I was interested in this new model as a potential next purchase. I was told “it is not possible to test drive the car you’re interested in during the repair process. You may only use the official car rental service.”
Can Relevant Information Make the Difference?
The chapter of “Commerce Relevancy” started in 2013. The eBook on the “Informed Purchase Journey” mentions that consumers use average of 10.4 sources of information before taking a purchasing decision.
What this means for all companies and business people who sell products and services:
They have to earn every new sale to customer who is demanding more information than ever before.
The Meaning of Commerce Relevancy
In order to enable Commerce Relevancy, companies are now asking themselves how to connect the dots between supplier, location, customer and product information. In this business use cases customer profiles or target group personas get match with product information in sales and marketing. The key challenge his to connect the data but also to provide them to customer facing apps and touch points.
6 Building Blocks of Commerce Relevancy
- Product powered: Inside and outside your organization customer and employees have a consistent view of the products you sell, regardless of the touch point.
- Customer centric: No matter, where or how a client interacts with your company, you are able to generate a single view of the customer with address, interaction, and relation data.
- Relationship driven: The biggest value today and tomorrow lays in “connecting the dots” between different information like the availability of a product, from a supplier or warehouse, to the client who demands it.
- Bi-directional: Serving clients with really tailored marketing is only one way – the other way is the feedback on products and services and how this can be re-used.
- Predictive power: With Commerce Relevancy, companies take simple eCommerce recommendations to the next level. This means predicting the next logical action, based in information. This can empower business users to do the right things, data-driven. This makes the customer spend more, data-driven. Happy to give you examples if you reach out to me @benrund
- Real-time data: Customer always want it now. Changes on product offerings, transactions customer make, service centers they call – a service agent always needs to have the complete view with real time data.
Stay tuned for the next chapter of this blog series: “How companies can achieve commerce relevancy step by step.” It impacts, people, processes and technology.
Every fall Informatica sales leadership puts together its strategy for the following year. The revenue target is typically a function of the number of sellers, the addressable market size and key accounts in a given territory, average spend and conversion rate given prior years’ experience, etc. This straight forward math has not changed in probably decades, but it assumes that the underlying data are 100% correct. This data includes:
- Number of accounts with a decision-making location in a territory
- Related IT spend and prioritization
- Organizational characteristics like legal ownership, industry code, credit score, annual report figures, etc.
- Key contacts, roles and sentiment
- Prior interaction (campaign response, etc.) and transaction (quotes, orders, payments, products, etc.) history with the firm
Every organization, no matter if it is a life insurer, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, a fashion retailer or a construction company knows this math and plans on getting somewhere above 85% achievement of the resulting target. Office locations, support infrastructure spend, compensation and hiring plans are based on this and communicated.
So why is it that when it is an open secret that the underlying data is far from perfect (accurate, current and useful) and corrupts outcomes, too few believe that fixing it has any revenue impact? After all, we are not projecting the climate for the next hundred years here with a thousand plus variables.
If corporate hierarchies are incorrect, your spend projections based on incorrect territory targets, credit terms and discount strategy will be off. If every client touch point does not have a complete picture of cross-departmental purchases and campaign responses, your customer acquisition cost will be too high as you will contact the wrong prospects with irrelevant offers. If billing, tax or product codes are incorrect, your billing will be off. This is a classic telecommunication example worth millions every month. If your equipment location and configuration is wrong, maintenance schedules will be incorrect and every hour of production interruption will cost an industrial manufacturer of wood pellets or oil millions.
Also, if industry leaders enjoy an upsell ratio of 17%, and you experience 3%, data (assuming you have no formal upsell policy as it violates your independent middleman relationship) data will have a lot to do with it.
The challenge is not the fact that data can create revenue improvements but how much given the other factors: people and process.
Every industry laggard can identify a few FTEs who spend 25% of their time putting one-off data repositories together for some compliance, M&A customer or marketing analytics. Organic revenue growth from net-new or previously unrealized revenue is what the focus of any data management initiative should be. Don’t get me wrong; purposeful recruitment (people), comp plans and training (processes) are important as well. Few people doubt that people and process drives revenue growth. However, few believe data being fed into these processes has an impact.
This is a head scratcher for me. An IT manager at a US upstream oil firm once told me that it would be ludicrous to think data has a revenue impact. They just fixed data because it is important so his consumers would know where all the wells are and which ones made a good profit. Isn’t that assuming data drives production revenue? (Rhetorical question)
A CFO at a smaller retail bank said during a call that his account managers know their clients’ needs and history. There is nothing more good data can add in terms of value. And this happened after twenty other folks at his bank including his own team delivered more than ten use cases, of which three were based on revenue.
Hard cost (materials and FTE) reduction is easy, cost avoidance a leap of faith to a degree but revenue is not any less concrete; otherwise, why not just throw the dice and see how the revenue will look like next year without a central customer database? Let every department have each account executive get their own data, structure it the way they want and put it on paper and make hard copies for distribution to HQ. This is not about paper versus electronic but the inability to reconcile data from many sources on paper, which is a step above electronic.
Have you ever heard of any organization move back to the Fifties and compete today? That would be a fun exercise. Thoughts, suggestions – I would be glad to hear them?
In his recent article: “The catalog is dead – long live the catalog,” Informatica’s Ben Rund spoke about how printed catalogs are positioned as a piece of the omnichannel puzzle and are a valuable touch point on the connected customer’s informed purchase journey. The overall response was far greater than what we could have hoped for; we would like to thank all those that participated. Seeing how much interest this topic generated, we decided to investigate further, in order to find out which factors can help in making print publishing successful.
5 key Factors for Successful Print Publishing Projects
Today’s digital world impacts every facet of our lives. Deloitte recently reported that approximately 50% of purchases are influenced by our digital environment. Often, companies have no idea how much savings can be generated through the production of printed catalogues that leverage pre-existing data sources. The research at www.pim-roi.com talks of several such examples. After looking back at many successful projects, Michael and his team realized the potential to generate substantial savings when the focus is to
optimize “time to market.” (If, of course, business teams operate asynchronously!)
For this new blog entry, we interviewed Michael Giesen, IT Consultancy and Project Management at Laudert to get his thoughts and opinion on the key factors behind the success of print publishing projects. We asked Michael to share his experience and thoughts on the leading factors in running successful print publishing projects. Furthermore, Michael also provides insight on which steps to prioritize and which pitfalls to avoid at all costs, in order to ensure the best results.
1. Publication Analysis
How are objects in print (like products) structured today? What about individual topics and design of creative pages? How is the placement of tables, headings, prices and images organized nowadays? Are there standards? If so, what can be standardized and how? To get an overall picture, you have to thoroughly examine these points. You must do so for all the content elements involved in the layout, ensuring that, in the future, they can be used for Dynamic Publishing. It is conceivable that individual elements, such as titles or pages used in subject areas, could be excluded and reused in separate projects. Gaining the ability to automate catalog creation potentially requires to compromise in certain areas. We shall discuss this later. In the future, product information will probably be presented with very little need to apply changes, 4 instead of 24 table types, for example. Great, now we are on the right path!
2. Data Source Analysis
Where is the data used in today’s printed material being sourced from? If possible or needed, are there several data sources that require to be combined? How is pricing handled? What about product attributes or the structure of product description tables in the case of an individual item? Is all the marketing content and subsequent variations included as well? What about numerous product images or multiple languages? What about seasonally adjusted texts that pull from external sources?
This case requires a very detailed analysis, leading us to the following question:
What is the role and the value of storing product information using a standardized method in print publishing?
The benefits of utilizing such processes should be clear by now: The more standards are in place, the greater the amount of time you will save and the greater your ability to generate positive ROI. Companies that currently operate with complex systems supporting well-structured data are already ahead in the game. Furthermore, yielding positive results doesn’t necessarily require them to start from scratch and rebuild from the ground up. As a matter of fact, companies that have already invested in database systems (E.g. MSSQL) can leverage their existing infrastructures.
3. Process Analysis
In this section of our analysis, we will be getting right down to the details: What does the production process look like, from the initial layout phase to the final release process? Who is responsible for the “how? Who maintains the linear progression? Who has the responsibilities and release rights? Lastly, where are the bottlenecks? Are there safeguards mechanisms in place? Once all these roles and processes have been put in place and have received the right resources we can advance to the next step of our analysis. You are ready to tackle the next key factor: Implementation.
Here you should be adventurous, creative and open minded, seeing that compromise might be needed. If your existing data sources do not meet the requirements, a solution must be found! A certain technical creative pragmatism may facilitate the short and medium planning (see point 2). You must extract and prepare your data sources for printed medium, such as a catalog, for example. The priint:suite of WERK II has proven itself as a robust all-round solution for Database Publishing and Web2Print. All-inclusive PIM solutions, such as Informatica PIM, already has a standard interface to priint:suite available. Depending on the specific requirements, an important decision must then be made: Is there a need for an InDesign Server? Simply put, it enables the fully automatic production of large-volume objects and offers accurate data preview. While slightly less featured, the use of WERK II PDF renderers offers similar functionalities but at a significantly more affordable price.
Based on the software and interfaces selected, an optimized process which supports your system can be developed and be structured to be fully automated if needed.
For individual groups of goods, templates can be defined, placeholders and page layouts developed. Production can start!
5. Selecting an Implementation Partner
In order to facilitate a smooth transition from day one, the support of a partner to carry out the implementation should be considered from the beginning. Since not only technology, but more importantly practical expertise provides maximum process efficiency, it is recommended that you inquire about a potential partner’s references. Getting insight from existing customers will provide you with feedback about their experience and successes. Any potential partner will be pleased to put you in touch with their existing customers.
What are Your Key Factors for Successful Print Publishing?
I would like to know what your thoughts are on this topic. Has anyone tried PDF renderers other than WERK II, such as Codeware’s XActuell? Furthermore, if there are any other factors you think are important in managing successful print publishing, feel free to mention them in the comments here. I’d be happy to discuss here or on twitter at @nicholasgoupil.
Working for Informatica has many advantages. One of them is that I clearly understand the difference between Product Information Management (PIM) and Master Data Management (MDM) for product data[i]. Since I have this clear in my own mind, it is easy to forget that this may not be as obvious to others. As frequently happens, it takes a customer to help us articulate why PIM is not the same as Product MDM. Now that this is fresh in my mind again, I thought I would share why the two are different, and when you should consider each one, or both.
In a lengthy discussion with our customer, many points were raised, discussed and classified. In the end, all arguments essentially came down to each technology’s primary purpose. A different primary purpose means that typical capabilities of the two products are geared towards different audiences and use cases.
PIM is a business application that centralizes and streamlines the creation and enhancement of consistent, but localised product content across channels. (Figure 1)
Figure 1: PIM Product Data Creation Flow
Product MDM is an infrastructure component that consolidates the core global product data that should be consistent across multiple and diverse systems and business processes, but typically isn’t. (Figure 2)
Figure 2: MDM Product Data Consolidation Hub
The choice between the two technologies really comes down the current challenge you are trying to solve. If you cannot get clean and consistent data out through all your sales channels fast enough, then a PIM solution is the correct choice for you. However, if your organisation is making poor decisions and seeing bloated costs (e.g. procurement or inventory costs) due to poor internal product data, then MDM technology is the right choice.
But, if it is so simple – why I am even writing this down? Why are the lines blurring now?
Here is my 3-part theory:
- A focus on good quality product data is relatively recent trend. Different industries started by addressing different challenges.
- PIM has primarily been used in retail B2C environments and distributor B2B or B2C environments. That is, organisations which are primarily focused around the sale of a product, rather than the design and production of the product.
- Product MDM has been used predominately by manufacturers of goods, looking to standardise and support global processes, reporting and analytics across departments.
- Now, manufacturers are increasingly looking to take control of their product information outside their organisation.
- This trend is most notable in Consumer Goods (CG) companies.
- Increasingly consistent, appealing and high quality data in the consumer realm is making the difference between choosing your product vs. a competitor’s.
- CG must ensure all channels – their own and their retail partner’s – are fed with high quality product data.
- So PIM is now entering organisations which should already have a Product MDM tool. If they don’t, confusion arises.
- When Marketing buys PIM (and it normally is Marketing), quite frankly this shows up the poor product data management upstream of marketing.
- It becomes quite tempting to try to jam as much product data into a PIM system as possible, going beyond the original scope of PIM.
The follow-on question is clear: why can’t we just make a few changes and use PIM as our MDM technology, or MDM as our PIM solution? It is very tempting. Both data models can be extended to add extra fields. In Informatica’s case, both are supported by a common, feature-rich workflow tool. However, there are inherent risks in using PIM where Product MDM is needed or Product MDM where PIM is needed.
After discussions with our customer, we identified 3 risks of modifying PIM when it is really Product MDM functionality that is needed:
- Decrease speed of PIM deployment
- Reduce marketing agility
- Risk of marketing abandoning the hybrid tool in the mid-term
The last turned out to be the least understood, but that doesn’t make it any less real. Since each of these risks deserves more explanation, I will discuss them in Part 2 of this Blog. (Still to be published)
In summary, PIM and Product MDM are designed to play different roles in the quest for the availability of high quality product data both internally and externally. There are risks and costs associated with modifying one to take on the role of the other. In many cases there is place for both PIM and MDM, but you will still need to choose a starting point. Each journey to high quality product data will be different, but the goal is still the same – to turn product data into business value.
I (or one of my colleagues in a city near you) will be happy to help you understand what the best starting point is for your organisation.
[i] In case you were wondering, this is not the benefit that I joined Informatica for.