Wide or Deep? MDM vs. PIM

Some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from our customers are:

  • Why do I need another MDM application?
  • What are the differences between MDM and PIM?
  • Do I really need an MDM and a PIM solution?

In many ways, these questions are based upon a faulty assumption, namely that product data management (PIM) and Master Data Management (MDM) are the same thing. While are closely related, but they are most certainly not the same – at least if you subscribe to our definitions of PIM and MDM.  In our view MDM has several goals:

  1. To gather together all the business concepts that drive the business, not just the data, but also the context and rules for its use.
  2. To refine the master data to represent the most complete and current view of information, including merging data from multiple sources into a “golden copy” record.
  3. To allow the business to manage the content, context and relationships in the master data.
  4. To do this for ALL master and/or reference data in the enterprise.

Product Information Management, or PIM, solutions apply some of the same processes to data, such as application of business rules, merging data, and allowing business users access and control of the content.  However, PIMs do this almost exclusively for product data, and have additional requirements such as content syndication (preparing the data for consumption by web portals, catalogs, etc.), image management, formatting, and interfaces with e-commerce sites like Amazon, a company’s own website, etc.  The goals of PIM are slightly different than for MDM:

  1. Management and enrichment of product data, including full-text descriptions, images, and related documents.
  2. To support integration of marketing data with the product data to form integrated content.
  3. To allow the marketing department to perform these tasks without IT assistance, and with required workflow and security.
  4. To fully integrate product management, experience management and commerce.

As you look at these differentiators, you may notice a common theme: putting data into the correct context to allow business users to control their own data. Both Product Information Management (PIM) and Master Data Management (MDM) tools are configured to understand the context in which the data is being viewed and to optimize that view for the task being performed.

Magnitude MDM is designed to allow enterprise-wide data management, connecting multiple domains of data in a single integrated model. This allows business users to define market segmentation, customer classifications, location management, vendor/product links, etc.  The view of product data held in MDM is often the “operational” view.  This might be the way sales, manufacturing, logistics or finance views the data.  But ultimately, the key is to capture ALL the important master and reference data, then model the way that data is related to itself, regardless of the domains being managed.  Think of this as the “wide” view of data.  To use the popular analogy of bodies of water, the MDM repository is like a reservoir – a collection of clean water (data) ready to be consumed.  It may be fed from (data) lakes, streams, etc.

Agility® PIM is designed to integrate product data from all the places it may live, including Magnitude MDM as well as ERPs like SAP or Oracle E-Business Suite, or any additional sources of product data.  Agility allows users to consume the structured data from the source and then optimize it for various channels of distribution.  Users can enrich the data with unstructured content through our own (or a third party) digital asset management system.  Finally, it allows the syndication of the content, including offering previews of each channel. This ensures that they are not just getting the best out of Agility, but also creating the best possible product content in Agility.  This is the “deep” view of product data – not just the size, color, or weight, but also what it looks like, what it is made of, how many are on hand, etc.

Magnitude Software is uniquely positioned to “close the loop” on Product Information Management and provide 360-degree views of products. Using the various platforms in our software portfolio, you can integrate an enterprise-level view of Master Data with use-case-specific views for operations, finance, sales, etc., as well as marketing-specific views of products and the ability to syndicate them. And, by adding in our Data Warehouse Automation product, “DIW,” users can present key decision makers with detailed reports and analysis of the business as well as recent activities like marketing campaigns, product promotions, etc.

So, MDM vs. PIM -which do you need?  A wide view of all your enterprise data or a deep-dive view of product data – or perhaps both?  Whatever your need, including “deep” views of domains other than product, Magnitude has a solution for you.