Tag Archives: Silos

Product Information Management (PIM) is a Silo Breaker!

cultural silos

When Silos Prevent Progress

Much is being said about how quickly information is stacking up which is creating quite the paradox. On one hand, information is being gathered in spades to enable quick problem solving. On the other, information is locked in disparate systems, hindering the very reason why information was collected in the first place. How can you turn information into actionable knowledge?


I lean on David Aeker for defense. In his Spanning SilosAeker convincingly pointed out that a silo is a metaphor for “organizational units that contain their own management team and talent and lack of motivation…to work with or even communicate with other units.” Hence, the very idea of collaboration and flow of information is challenged, resulting in products and solutions that claim to solve the problem but in reality further segregate the knowledge base.

A Unified Approach

What we need is a unified paradigm for capturing, storing, organizing and searching content as well as people. Interestingly, PIM is an application approach to aggregate product data in order to transform it into information relevant to multiple channels. This may appear to result in another silo but that is a very shaky way to look at PIM. PIM is more than an application to master product data, PIM is all about collaboration.


We should remember that creation of product information is all about the process of bringing together cross-departmental contributions that lead to the final artifact. Given the nature of product information, it is more than a workflow scenario that assists the collection of information at the right time from the right source. In fact, product information touches the entire enterprise. For instance, PIM supports transactional systems such as order fulfillment and warehouse management, or it can be more merchandise-oriented by supporting multichannel marketing. It crosses to the enterprise as well. Think about how reviews and feedback on products will impact the information that is dynamically attached to products.

The enemy of silos is fertile communication across the board, which is reflected down to operations. With all the key teams working on the same platform, PIM facilitates a collaborative environment where real teams made up of people from multiple departments sit and work on the same construction site by promoting cross-fertilization, immediate appreciation across department and a quick turnaround.

Image source: http://www.winnersfdd.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Cultural-Silos-generic.jpg

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Ultimate Scalability

How could you implement hundreds or thousands of applications, all of which have custom data models and process variations, and still deliver one version of the truth to the business? This is somewhat of a rhetorical question since it is exactly what IT professionals in virtually all large enterprise do every day. The question is still valid however since many of the prevailing “best practices”, while being the best we have, are not actually very good at solving the problem. I started this discussion in last week’s blog entitled Mass Customization of Data and continue this week with advice on how to do it. (more…)

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Mass Customization of Data

You might think I’m crazy suggesting this, but we need to create more, not less, customized data. Actually, it’s not that we NEED more customized data, what we need is to accept the reality of variation in data and, rather than fight it, adopt methods that effectively support it. Specifically, I suggest we should apply mass customization techniques to information management.

Loraine Lawson’s recent post on Why Businesses Keep Building Data Silos supports this argument.  Silos are not going away so we better figure out how to deal with them efficiently.


Posted in Data Integration, Enterprise Data Management, Integration Competency Centers, Master Data Management, Operational Efficiency | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments