The science of managing information about products has existed for decades, although, Product Information Management (PIM) is a relatively new branch of Data Management. Historically, the solutions required to manage product content have been complex, since that data has multiple touch-points and affects the 3 pillars – People, Process and Technology. With a shift in the industry to promote business-focused, data-driven organizations, PIM was invented with a purpose to ease the collection, management and syndication of data, in a simple, easy and concise manner. However, there are still some myths from its past.
At Agility Multichannel, we believe these historical points of views are confusing. So, it’s important to not only dispel the common myths about PIM, but provide insight into the reality.
Myth 1: PIM is too complex to be a business-user tool
Reality: The invention of PIM was driven by a business-case to help with rich content management. Hence, it is fundamentally designed to be easily used by marketing, sales and merchandizing teams. As organizations embark on their digital transformation journey, PIM falls under the umbrella of the CMO office with some support from IT. The bottom line is that a technical background is not a requirement for the use of a PIM software, rather, PIM software empowers business users to be less reliant on IT.
Myth 2: PIM is for large enterprises only
Reality: This was a thing in the past. With the move towards multi-channel commerce, the need for single source of truth for product information is required for all companies large or small. In the past when comparatively less data was required to sell, SKU count was a determining factor for implementation of a data management software. The product portfolios have grown complex in the past decade and regardless of the SKU count, whether it is in 100s, 1000s or millions, a PIM solution enables the business to manage the golden-record of their portfolio. This ensures quicker time-to-market, while promoting the brand and product integrity for small, medium and large companies.
Myth 3: PIM is not an enterprise software, so it doesn’t need organizational change management
Reality: This is far from the truth. A PIM may be a rapid solution to support marketing and merchandizing departments to get products out to the market easily, but it still requires change management. Many companies implement PIM focusing only on the technology aspect, hoping to provide a platform for business users to work with a single-view of product. When things go wrong, usually technology is the first to be blamed. ‘People’ and ‘Process’ aspect are often over-looked. However, they’re actually crucial as ‘People’ will have to adopt to newer (better and easier) ways and ‘Processes’ to do their job. Just like any other software, change management is crucial when implementing a PIM system.
Myth 4: PIM is a project
Reality: A PIM implementation may be done in a project or a series of projects, but in reality, it is an entire program that changes the way business units create and manage their data. Consolidating the data from multiple disparate systems to provide a holistic view may sound very appealing, but the job doesn’t end there. Once in the PIM, the data requires governance and process management. PIM provides businesses with easy ways to govern data; however, someone still needs to define the policies and procedures.
Myth 5: PIM is the same as PLM, PCM or MDM
Reality: The focus on customer-centric commerce has led to introduction of solutions with features that appear to be identical. These solutions are not conflicting but rather complementary. The purpose of PLM is focused on product innovation, while MDM supports management of corporate data across multiple domains. And both PLM and MDM are product data sources for PIM. On the other hand, PCM is usually a recipient of data from PIM and is used to provide data enrichment capabilities for a website. PIM plays a very crucial role by being the central element of product data management. PIM helps you aggregate, enrich, syndicate and manage data quality for multi-channel distribution. Neither of PLM, PCM or MDM, can replace the robust feature set of a PIM.
By Sanchit Grover, Principal Solutions Architect – Agility Multichannel