Tag Archives: PIM

Commerce Ready Data for B2B & B2C at Informatica World

If you’ve been contemplating to transform your business, making it a priority to embrace digital transformation, this year’s Informatica World 2015, in Las Vegas, has a series of B2B and B2C sessions for you. Here are some I wish to recommend:

B2B Commerce Ready Data

PartsSource Improve Customer Experience with Product Information in Medical Parts
Brian Thomas, Director of Application, PartsSource

A leading provider of medical replacement parts solutions, PartsSource will discuss how it uses Informatica PIM as the foundation for its omnichannel strategy and to support its industry-first one-stop shop online catalog for medical parts. PartsSource will explain how Informatica helped reduce the time needed to launch and update products from 120 minutes to 2 minutes using fewer employees, making it easier than ever to connect over 3,300 hospitals to thousands of OEMs and suppliers.

B2C Commerce Ready Data

Elkjop and Monsanto: PIM and MDM to Manage Product and Customer Data
Thomas Thykjer, Master Data Architect, Elkjop Nordics AS
Jim Stellern, US Commercial Data Management and BI IT Lead, Monsanto

Elkjop, the largest consumer electronics retailer in the Nordic countries, increased both its product range offering and the quality of its product information across its entire portfolio by leveraging the strong embedded Data Quality tools found in the Informatica PIM. Elkjop will also discuss how they reduced their yearly development costs and operating costs.

Monsanto developed a strategy to address customer data quality issues, clearly articulated the business value of implementing the strategy, and successfully implemented the solution leveraging Informatica MDM and a new data governance program.

Register to Informatica World Now!

Omnichannel Ready: What’s New in PIM 8?

Latest Features, Demo and Roadmap

Stefan Reinhardt, Senior Product Manager PIM, R&D DEU PIM, Informatica
Ben Rund, Sr. Director Product Marketing, Information Quality Solutions, Informatica

Are you commerce ready? Can you say the same about your data? Are you focused on the betterment of your supply chain, marketing, ecommerce, merchandising and category management This session, aimed at those wanting to sell more products faster.

Learn what’s new with PIM 8:

  • Kits and bundles for superior cross-selling
  • High data volumes architecture
  • Role- and task-based web interfaces for increased efficiency on product content collaboration
  • Business user dashboard
  • 1WorldSync data pool syndication for compliant CPG data
  • Product Data as a Service (DaaS) for price intelligence and content benchmarking.

We will be covering all those new features during the session through in a live demo.

Furthermore, we will also cover the PIM roadmap, showcasing how PIM is evolving and gaining MDM like features, by fueling product data apps for different use cases and industries, leveraging the Intelligent Data Platform.

User Group Session for Omnichannel

Are you looking to talk to the experts? Don’t miss out on our user group sessions where you will be able to discuss and work directly with the R&D and product management experts. They will be there to answer your questions as well as hear your thoughts and feedback. It’s your opportunity to be heard and get an answer to your question, don’t miss out!

Register to Informatica World Now!

37 Sessions to Master the Digital Transformation

An overall of 37 sessions, focused on different Master Data Management and Information Governance, key disciplines and the foundation of successfully mastering digital transformation, will be held on the 12th and 13th of May.

View the agenda grid to get an overview

View the session catalog to understand more details

Register to Informatica World Now!

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Posted in PiM, Public Sector, Retail, Telecommunications, Total Customer Relationship | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Your Product Data Costing You Sales?

data

Great Product Information Answers Every Question Customers will Ever Ask

Shoppers want and expect a consistent experience regardless of the sales channel they choice. They also expect an ever increasing assortment of products with detailed descriptions and will go were their needs are met.

39% of US online adults cite that they would consider buying from an online retailer they had never previously purchased from if the retailer offered detailed product information. Forrester

I was recently looking to purchase a new bike and came across the following two descriptions for the same bike at different online retailers;

Retailer 1: “With sturdy 700c wheels the Specialized Crosstrail Disk is where the street meets the trail. With the efficiency of a road bike and the versatility of a mountain bike this is a hybrid that is ready for adventure.

The sturdy but light A1 aluminum frame offers a comfortable, well balanced ride and has lugs ready to take mudguards and/or rack. Bumps on rough tracks are smoothed out by the suspension fork which can also be locked out, for efficiency, on smooth roads.

Hydraulic disk brakes offer efficient reliable performance in all weather conditions giving you the confidence to ride all year round. The triple chain set combined with a 9 speed cassette gives a very wide range of gears so you can take on all terrain; from steep country lanes to fast city streets.”

Further tabs on reviews, technical specs, etc.

Retailer 2: Specialized Crosstrail Disc 2015. Your Price: €690.00 (with redirect to Specialized website)

Which retailer would you contact first?

Deliver trusted, consistent and rich product data were, and when it is needed in the right format.

As your business expands across all sales channels e.g. in-store, kiosk, you may have multiple e-commerce sites, full price, discount and clearance or sales via third party site like Amazon, Facebook, etc. or add a contact center to take telephone orders. Add in, an ever growing assortment and increased number of suppliers, with recent EU legislation on product labeling (no. 1169) adding another dimension for retailers and consumer goods manufactures to adhere to, the task of managing product data becomes very complex and onerous.

Product Information Management Tools

Managing thousands of products with multiple attributes in Excel or home grown tools is no longer feasible. And with business users e.g. marketers, merchandizer now making the decision on Product Information Management tools, they are looking for the same ease of use they experience in Excel.  But before deciding on or implementing a product information management tool you need ask yourself;

  • What does good product information look like for your business?
  • What do you want your product information to achieve?
  • How does your organization synthesize this information?
  • What product data should be highlighted in each channel?
  • How are your competitors presenting product data?
  • Where is yours currently underperforming?

Once you have answered the above you need some guiding principles for great product data that will ensure your PIM implementation will deliver the benefits you expected. These include;

Think ‘customer experience’ – Product information isn’t a by-product of selling. It’s an essential service, for your customers and for other users of product data. Customer experience pivots around product information

Up to standard – Treat product data with the same care and diligence as the product itself.

It goes without saying that it needs to meet: The category-specific industry standards (like ETIM or Eclass for electronic products or GDSN/GS1 for consumer packaged goods). The legal requirements for compliance (e.g., for organic food or pharmaceuticals)

Customer-centric – Great product information answers every question your customers will ever ask. Don’t forget that this includes internal customers – like shipping or fulfillment – who often need very specific information (e.g., in the U.S., compliance laws for certain products can vary significantly between states).

Join us at Informatica World 2015 to hear from your peers and Informatica experts on how to get the best from your Product Information Management.

Follow us @INFARetail

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Guiding Your Way to Master Data Management Nirvana

Achieving and maintaining a single, semantically consistent version of master data is crucial for every organization. As many companies are moving from an account or product-centric approach to a customer-centric model, master data management is becoming an important part of their enterprise data management strategy. MDM provides the clean, consistent and connected information your organizations need for you to –

  1. Empower customer facing teams to capitalize on cross-sell and up-sell opportunities
  2. Create trusted information to improve employee productivity
  3. Be agile with data management so you can make confident decisions in a fast changing business landscape
  4. Improve information governance and be compliant with regulations

Master Data ManagementBut there are challenges ahead for the organizations. As Andrew White of Gartner very aptly wrote in a blog post, we are only half pregnant with Master Data Management. Andrew in his blog post talked about increasing number of inquiries he gets from organizations that are making some pretty simple mistakes in their approach to MDM without realizing the impact of those decisions on a long run.

Over last 10 years, I have seen many organizations struggle to implement MDM in a right way. Few MDM implementations have failed and many have taken more time and incurred cost before showing value.

So, what is the secret sauce?

A key factor for a successful MDM implementation lays in mapping your business objectives to features and functionalities offered by the product you are selecting. It is a phase where you ask right questions and get them answered. There are few great ways in which organizations can get this done and talking to analysts is one of them. The other option is to attend MDM focused events that allow you to talk to experts, learn from other customer’s experience and hear about best practices.

We at Informatica have been working hard to deliver you a flexible MDM platform that provides complete capabilities out of the box. But MDM journey is more than just technology and product features as we have learnt over the years. To ensure our customer success, we are sharing knowledge and best practices we have gained with hundreds of successful MDM and PIM implementations. The Informatica MDM Day, is a great opportunity for organizations where we will –

  • Share best practices and demonstrate our latest features and functionality
  • Show our product capabilities which will address your current and future master data challenges
  • Provide you opportunity to learn from other customer’s MDM and PIM journeys.
  • Share knowledge about MDM powered applications that can help you realize early benefits
  • Share our product roadmap and our vision
  • Provide you an opportunity to network with other like-minded MDM, PIM experts and practitioners

So, join us by registering today for our MDM Day event in New York on 24th February. We are excited to see you all there and walk with you towards MDM Nirvana.

~Prash
@MDMGeek
www.mdmgeek.com

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Posted in Big Data, Customers, DaaS, Data Governance, Master Data Management, PiM, Product Information Management | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Magnificent Seven Facts on B2C eCommerce in North America

The latest North American B2C e-commerce market report is out now. For my followers I took the freedom to summarize some “Magnificent Seven Facts on B2C eCommerce in North America” in a short blog.  The report covers United States, Canada and Mexico, but as well comparisons to Europe and Asia. According to this report, North American B2C e-commerce market is expected to reach $494.0 billion in 2014.

The Magnificent Seven Facts

  1. 122.5 million households in North America
  2. 336 million internet users in North America
  3. North America makes up 29.2% of the total global online sales ($1,552.0bn) in 2013.
  4. In terms of global B2C e-commerce, North America ranked third in 2013, behind Asia-Pacific and Europe
  5. North American consumers spent on average$2,116 online in2013. This is significantly above the global average of €1,280.
  6. With an average spending per e-shopper of $2,216, American consumers spent most online in2013. Canadians ranked second with an average spending of $1,577, while Mexican e-shoppers on average spent $1,133 online in2013.
  7. Canadians are more likely to shop mobile

Mobile Commerce: Canada Leads the Pack

Within North America, mobile commerce is most popular in Canada, with more than half of the online purchases per week being made through a mobile device. At 38.2%, US Americans still make their mobile purchases in the safe surroundings of their homes.

What are the barriers preventing mobile purchasing?

barriers mobile shopping north america

Free downloads available now

Would you like to find out more about global e-commerce? The free light versions of our Regional/Continental Reports can be downloaded here.

 

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The Supply Chain Impact of Adding an Allergen to a Chocolate Bar

supply_chainThroughout the lifecycle of a consumable product, many parties are constantly challenged with updating and managing product information, like ingredients and allergens. Since December 13th, 2014, this task has become even more complex than before for companies producing or selling food and beverage products in the European Union due to the new EU 1169/2011 rules. As a result, changing the basic formula of a chocolate bar by adding one allergen, like nuts for example should be carefully considered as it can have a tremendous impact on its complete supply chain if manufacturer and retailer(s) want to remain compliant with EU regulation 1169/2011 and to inform the consumer about the changes to the product.

EU_1169_nuts_to_a_chololate_bar-supply_chainLet’s say, the chocolate bar is available in three (3) varieties: dark-, whole milk and white chocolate. Each of the varieties is available in two (2) sizes: normal and mini size. The chocolate bar is distributed in twelve (12) countries within the European Union using different packaging. This would require the manufacturer to introduce 72 (3 varieties * 2 sizes * 12 countries) new GTINs at an item level. If the chocolate producer decides to do any package or seasonal promotions, multipacks or introduce a new variety, this number would even be higher. The new attributes, including updated information on allergens, have to be modified for each product and 72 new GTINs have to be generated for the chocolates bars by the chocolate manufacturer’s data maintenance department. Trading partners have to be updated about the modifications, too. Assuming the manufacturer uses the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), the new GTINs will have to be registered along with their new attributes eight weeks before the modified product will be available. In addition to that, packaging hierarchies have to be taken into consideration as well. Let’s say, each item has an associated case and pallet, the number of updates would sum up at 216 (72 updates * 3 product hierarchies).

Managing the updates related to the product modifications, results in high administrative and other costs. Trading partners across the supply chain report significant impact to their annual sales and costs. According to GS1 Europe, one retailer reported 6,000-8,000 GTIN changes per year, leading to 2-3% of additional administrative and support costs. If the GTIN had to change for every new minor variant of a product, they forecast the number of changes per year could rise to 20,000-25,000, leading to a significant increase in further additional administrative and support costs.

The change of the chocolate bar’s recipe also means that a corresponding change to the mandatory product data displayed on the label is required. This means for the online retailer(s) selling the chocolate bar that they have to update information displayed in the online shops. Considering that a retailer has to deliver exactly the product that is displayed in his online shop, there will be a period of time when the old version of the product and the new version coexist in the supply chain. During this period it is not possible for the retailer to know if the version of the product ordered on a website will be available at the time and place the order is picked.

GS1 Europe suggests handling this issue as follows: Retailers working to GS1 standards use GTINs to pick on-line orders. If the modified chocolate bar with nuts is given a new GTIN it increases the possibility that the correct variant can be made available for picking and, even if it is not available at the pick point, the retailer can recognize automatically if the version being picked is different from the version that was ordered. In this latter case the product can be offered as a substitute when the goods are delivered and the consumer can choose whether to accept it or not. On their websites, GS1 provides comprehensive information on how to comply with the new European Food Information Regulation.

Using the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN), suppliers and retailers are able to share standardized product data, cut down the cost of building point to point integrations and speed-up new product introductions by getting access to the most accurate and most current product information. The Informatica GDSN Accelerator is an add-on to the Informatica Product Information Management (PIM) system that provides an interface to access a GDSN certified data pool. It is designed to help organizations securely and continuously exchange, update and synchronize product data with trading partners according to the standards defined by Global Standards One (GS1). GDSN ensures that data exchanged between trading partners is accurate and compliant with globally supported standards in maintaining uniqueness, classification and identification of source and recipients. Integrated in your PIM System, the GDSN Accelerator allows for leveraging product data of highest standards to be exchanged with your trading partners via the GDSN.

Thanks to the automated product data exchange, efforts and costs related to the modification of a product, as demonstrated in the chocolate bar example can be significantly reduced for both, manufacturers and retailers. The product data can be easily transferred to the data pool and you can fully control the information sharing with a specific trading partner or with all recipients of a target market.

Related blogs:

How GS1 and PIM Help to Fulfill Legal Regulations and Feed Distribution Channels

5 Ways to Comply with the New European Food Information Regulation

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Posted in B2B Data Exchange, PiM | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Bringing the “Local Experience” Online: Today’s Farm Store is Data Driven

Today’s Farm Store is Data Driven

Today’s Farm Store is Data Driven

Have you ever found yourself walking into a store to buy one thing, only to leave 2 hours later with enough items to fill 2 mini vans? I certainly have. Now, imagine the same scenario, however this time, you walk in a store to buy ranch supplies, like fencing materials or work boots, but end up leaving with an outdoor fire pit, fancy spurs, a pair of Toms shoes, a ski rack and a jar of pickled egg. If you had no idea these products could be purchased at the same place, you clearly haven’t been to North 40 Outfitters.

Established in Northwestern United States, North 40 Outfitters, a family owned and operated business, has been outfitting the hardworking and hard playing populace of the region. Understanding the diverse needs of its customers, hardworking people, North 40 Outfitters carries everything from fencing for cattle and livestock to tools and trailers. They have gear for camping and hunting—even fly fishing.

Named after the Homestead Act of 1862, an event with strong significance in the region, North 40 Outfitters heritage is built on its community involvement and support of local small businesses. The company’s 700 employees could be regarded as family. At this year’s Thanksgiving, every employee was given a locally raised free range turkey to bring home. Furthermore, true to Black Friday’s shopping experience, North 40 Outfitters opened its door. Eschewing the regular practice of open as early as 3 AM, North 40 Outfitters opened at the reasonable 7 o’clock hour. They offered patrons donuts as well as coffee obtained from a local roaster.

North 40 Outfitters aims to be different. They achieve differentiation by being data driven. While the products they sell cannot be sourced exclusively from local sources, their experience aims to do exactly that.

The Problem

Prior to operating under the name North 40 Outfitters, the company ran under the banner of “Big R”, which was shared with several other members of the same buying group. The decision to change the name to North 40 Outfitters was the result of a move into the digital realm— they needed a name to distinguish themselves. Now as North 40 Outfitters, they can focus on what matters rather than having to deal with the confusion of a shared name. They would now provide the “local store” experience, while investing in their digital strategy as a means to do business online and bring the unique North 40 Outfitters experience and value nationwide.

With those organizational changes taking place, lay an even greater challenge. With over 150,000 SKUs and no digital database for their product information, North 40 Outfitters had to find a solution and build everything from the ground up. Moreover, with customers demanding a means to buy products online, especially customers living in rural areas, it became clear that North 40 Outfitters would have to address its data concerns.

Along with the fresh rebrand and restructure, North 40 Outfitters needed to tame their product information situation, a critical step conducive to building their digital product database and launching their ecommerce store.

The Solution

North 40 Outfitters was clear about the outcome of the recent rebranding and they knew that investments needed to be taken if they were to add value to their existing business. Building the capabilities to take their business to new channels, ecommerce in this case, meant finding the best solution to start on the right foot. Consequently, wishing to become master of their own data, for both online and in-store uses, North 40 Outfitters determined that they needed a PIM application that would act as a unique data information repository.

It’s important to note that North 40 Outfitters environment is not typical to that of traditional retailers. The difference can be found in the large variation of product type they sell. Some of their suppliers have local, boutique style production scales, while some are large multi-national distributors. Furthermore, a large portion of North 40 Outfitters customers live in rural regions, in some cases their stores are a day’s drive away. With the ability to leverage both a PIM and an ecommerce solution North 40 Outfitters is now a step closer to outfitting everyone in the Northwestern region.

Results

It is still very early to talk about results, since North 40 Outfitters has only recently entered the implementation phase. What can be said is that they are very excited. Having reclaimed their territory, and equipped with a PIM solution and an ecommerce solution they have all the right tools to till and plow the playing field.

The meaning of North 40 Outfitters

To the uninitiated the name North 40 Outfitters might not mean much. However, there is a lot of local heritage and history standing behind this newly rebranded name. North 40 is derived from the Homestead Act of 1862. The Act refers to the “North forty”, to the Northern most block of the homesteader’s property. To this day, this still holds significance to the local community. The second half of the brand: “Outfitters” is about the company’s focus on the company ability to outfit its customers both for work and play. On the one hand, you can visit North 40 Outfitters to purchase goods aimed at running your ranch, such as fencing material, horse related goods or quality tools. At the same time, you can buy camping and backpacking goods—they even sell ice fishing huts.

North 40 Outfitters ensures their customers have what they need to work the land, get back from it and ultimately go out and play just as hard if not harder.

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PIM is not Product MDM, Part 2

Part 1 of this blog touched on the differences between PIM and Product MDM.  Since both play a role in ensuring the availability of high quality product data, it is easy to see the temptation to extend the scope of either product to play a more complete part.  However, there are risks involved in customising software.  PIM and MDM are not exceptions, and any customisations will carry some risk.

In the specific case of looking to extend the role of PIM, the problems start if you just look at the data and think:  “oh, this is just a few more product attributes to add”.  This will not give you a clear picture of the effort or risk associated with customisations.  A complete picture requires looking beyond the attributes as data fields, and considering them in context:  which processes and people (roles) are supported by these attributes?

Recently we were asked to assess the risk of PIM customisation for a customer.  The situation was that data to be included in PIM was currently housed in separate, home grown and aging legacy systems.  One school of thought was to move all the data, and their management tasks, into PIM and retire the three systems.  That is, extending the role of PIM beyond a marketing application and into a Product MDM role.  In this case, we found three main risks of customising PIM for this purpose.  Here they are in more detail:

1. Decrease speed of PIM deployment

  • Inclusion of the functionality (not just the data) will require customisations in PIM, not just additional attributes in the data model.
    • Logic customisations are required for data validity checks, and some value calculations.
    • Additional screens, workflows, integrations and UI customisations will be required for non-marketing roles
    • PIM will become the source for some data, which is used in critical operational systems (e.g. SAP).  Reference checks & data validation cannot be taken lightly due to risks of poor data elsewhere.
  • Bottom line:  A non-standard deployment with drive up implementation cost, time and risk.

2.  Reduce marketing agility

  • In the case concerned, whilst the additional data was important to marketing, it is primarily supporting by non-marketing users and processes including Product Development, Sales and Manufacturing
  • These systems are key systems in their workflow in terms of creating and distributing technical details of new products to other systems, e.g. SAP for production
  • If the systems are retired and replaced with PIM, these non-marketing users will need to be equal partners in PIM:
    • Require access and customised roles
    • Influence over configuration
    • Equal vote in feature/function prioritisation
  • Bottom Line:  Marketing will no longer completely own the PIM system, and may have to sacrifice new functionality to prioritise supporting other roles.

3.  Risk of marketing abandoning the hybrid tool in the mid-term

  • An investment in PIM is usually an investment by Marketing to help them rapidly adapt to a dynamic external market.
    • System agility (point 2) is key to rapid adaption, as is the ability to take advantage of new features within any packaged application.

PiM

  • As more customisations are made, the cost of upgrades can become prohibitive, driven by the cost to upgrade customisations.
    • Cost often driven by consulting fees to change what could be poorly documented code.
    • Risk of falling behind on upgrades, and hence sacrificing access to the newest PIM functionality
  • If upgrades are more expensive than new tools, PIM will be abandoned by Marketing, and they will invest in a new tool.
  • Bottom line:  In a worst case scenario, a customised PIM solution could be left supporting non-marketing functionality with Marketing investing in a new tool.

The first response to the last bullet point is normally “no they wouldn’t”.  Unfortunately this is a pattern both I and some of my colleagues have seen in the area of marketing & eCommerce applications.  The problem is that these areas are so fast moving, that nobody can afford to fall behind in terms of new functionality.  If upgrades are large projects which need lengthy approval and implementation cycles, marketing is unlikely to wait.  It is far easier to start again with a smaller budget under their direct control.  (Which is where PIM should be in the first place.)

In summary:

  • Making PIM look and behave like Product MDM could have some undesirable consequences – both in the short term (current deployment) and in the longer term (application abandonment).
  • A choice for customising PIM vs. enhancing your landscape with Product MDM should be made not on data attributes alone.
  • Your business and data processes should guide you in terms of risk assessment for customisation of your PIM solution.

Bottom Line:  If the risks seem too large, then consider enhancing your IT landscape with Product MDM.  Trading PIM cost & risk for measurable business value delivered by MDM will make a very attractive business case.

 

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5 Key Factors for Successful Print Publishing

print publishing

Product Information Management Facilitates Catalog Print Publishing

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.

4. 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.

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PIM is Not Product MDM – Product MDM is not PIM

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)

PIM image

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)

MDM image

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:

  1. A focus on good quality product data is relatively recent trend.  Different industries started by addressing different challenges.
    1. 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.
    2. Product MDM has been used predominately by manufacturers of goods, looking to standardise and support global processes, reporting and analytics across departments.
  2. Now, manufacturers are increasingly looking to take control of their product information outside their organisation.
    1. This trend is most notable in Consumer Goods (CG) companies.
    2. Increasingly consistent, appealing and high quality data in the consumer realm is making the difference between choosing your product vs. a competitor’s.
    3. CG must ensure all channels – their own and their retail partner’s – are fed with high quality product data.
  3. So PIM is now entering organisations which should already have a Product MDM tool.  If they don’t, confusion arises.
    1. When Marketing buys PIM (and it normally is Marketing), quite frankly this shows up the poor product data management upstream of marketing.
    2. 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.

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Harrods: Product Information at the Heart of Customer Experience

Did you know Harrods introduces more than 1.7 million new products every year? This includes their own labels, as well as other brands. Recently, Peter Rush, the Harrods Solution Architect responsible for product information, spoke at Informatica’s MDM Day EMEA in London. At the event, he said there are:

“so many things we want to do: Product Information is at the heart of most of them.”

As part of the customer experience program, Harrods identified product information quality as a key asset, next to customer information management.

The Product Information Challenge Harrods was facing included the following:

  • A Lack of a single Product data store
  • Inappropriate Product Data objectives
  • Massive scale and volume of products and brands (1.7 million new products per year)
  • Concessions and Own Bought
  • Localized enrichment
  • Media Assets all over the estate

While discussing his product information management project, Peter gave a great and simple example. He showed the product descriptions below and asked, “Who knows which two products these are?”:

  1. XX 6621/74 BLK VN SS TOP 969B S
  2. XX37066 L/BLU PRK FLAN SH 440B MED

Then, he solved the mystery. The answer was this:

  1. Black V-neck sleeveless top
  2. Light blue parker print flannel shirt

Turning vision into reality needs a joint business and IT project

Peter said, it is important to build a “flexible team to meet needs of each project stage, with representation from key business areas”. The team should include representatives from groups like: Merchandise Data, Buying Team, Web Team, IT, CRM and the Shopfloor Team. In addition to their Core Project Team, Harrods defined a Steering Committee and a group of selected Super Users.

Benefit summary: a combination of people, technology and process

At the end of the session, I was impressed by this graphic. This image sums up the essentials of product information management success. It is about the people, who are able to do the right things. It is about how technology enables automation. It is about the process which turns information into value.
Finally it is important to mention our partner Javelin Group is leading the PIM implementation at Harrods. Also Andy Hayler, analyst from The Information Difference, wrote an article for the CIO Magazine.

Harrods: Product Information at the Heart of Customer Experience

Harrods: Product Information at the Heart of Customer Experience

 

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