We’re back in the office today after a full day yesterday at Internet Retailing’s London conference. There were many interesting speakers, presentations and workshops, and we did manage to sneak away and catch some of them. Still, this was our home for most of the day. Lots of people stopped by, and that was great, so we’re not complaining. By the way, this event was sponsored by Demandware and, in case you missed it, just last month we were pleased to announce that we’d become one of their technology partners. Demandware Commerce clients can now implement Agility® product information management software in a fraction of the normal time. With 100% of the sophistication that comes with the simplest PIM on the planet.
We were incredibly gratified last month to learn that Ventana Research had given us their Technology Innovation Award, which honors „pioneers who have developed clear visionary and transformative technology, going above and beyond to introduce new advancements in use of technology, analytics and information.“ Ventana Research CEO and Chief Research Officer Mark Smith has written a thorough explanation of why we were singled out, and you can read that here. I’m personally grateful for the thoughtful analysis and perspective and I like every word of it. But if I had to pick two favorites they’d be “simple” and “sophisticated.” Product information management and master data management are often referred to as internal plumbing. That’s not a very sophisticated metaphor, but to push it further: if you’ve ever remodeled a bathroom, you know that, so long as you can pay for it, nothing you can dream up to do will faze your contractor in the least, except when it comes to moving the soil stack, which is not for the faint of heart. I hate to say it but that’s how PIM is too often viewed. The kind of thing you hope you’ll never have to change. But every product-centric company has to come to terms with it at some point. What usually happens is that one day it becomes impossible to ignore the fact that there are too many silos of data; that departments are duplicating tasks; that results are inconsistent; that the status quo is getting in the way of progress and growth. The pressure is building to get more products to more channels, quicker, with richer data. And that’s when someone finally decides to have a look at the plumbing. The thing every department has its own unique reasons for not wanting to mess with. Two years ago, after about 200 man/woman-years of customer-led R&D, we took stock. We felt pretty confident about our software’s functionality. And we realized that there probably wasn’t a unique customer requirement that we hadn’t seen and accommodated. But getting an entire organization, top to bottom, right to left, to sign on to a major overhaul of a central, essential process, even when their existing one is admittedly out of date and woefully inefficient? Well, that was still usually a very tough, painfully drawn-out exercise. We found that what was sorely lacking in the PIM space in general was the kind of simplicity and elegance of design that makes technology easy and even pleasurable to use. So that every stakeholder can look past the immediate challenges of remodeling the enterprise, to readily see and experience the value and benefits. We decided then to make simplicity our development mindset and company-wide mantra. We would never stop pushing ourselves to add new and improved features, but we gave ourselves the added challenge of making Agility® the simplest PIM available. Configuration, workflow, reporting, syndication to ecommerce platforms, iPad and Page Design capabilities, and so on. Every element was re-examined, re-assessed, simplified. We’re especially chuffed about our brand new Agility Modular Interface (we like to call it AMI, with a French accent) that lets every individual user in every department tailor our software according to their own needs. Choose a role and workspace, customize it with some nifty pre-built gadgets and drop-and-drag tools, and go. No need for the IT specialist. It looks good, feels good, works great, right away, no matter where you sit. And it’s something that hasn’t been done before. Managing product data, as most people reading this will understand all too well, is extremely complex. It’s touched by individuals in every department – creative, ecommerce, content managers, product managers, merchants, translators, vendors, et al; it’s enriched, approved, syndicated, designed with, and relied on for accuracy, at every level and every point of customer interaction. It has to be trustworthy and richly multidimensional. It has to smoothly flow into ecommerce and other enterprise applications and feed an ever-growing number of channels and touch points. Again, it’s inherently complex and cumbersome, and we couldn’t be prouder to have won an award for making it simple. But of course it isn’t merely simple. In the words of someone not often quoted in our trade, Leonardo da Vinci, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
And because in googling him I just stumbled upon a design he made of a flush valve toilet that in its day would certainly have been worthy of a Technology Innovation Award, and because it nicely closes the circle on all this potty talk, I’ll say no more and leave you with it here. Thanks for reading!
Richard Hunt, CEO, Agility Multichannel
Leonardo’s sketch of a valve flush toilet
We’re in the middle of our European E-Commerce Workshop in York right now. After a full day in session we had a nice dinner tonight in a 14th century dining hall and then some of us went on a ghost walk. Now everyone’s asleep, except the blogger, who’s too scared to sleep. Full workshop report and more photos coming soon.
Agility Multichannel was founded by these three in 2011. But Agility® PIM software has been around for more than ten years. And the company – previously as Pindar – has been developing, implementing, integrating and supporting product and content management and marketing solutions for over two decades. Richard and Graham have been a part of it since the beginning.
To get things started on this new blog, let’s begin with some essential background. Where. Who. What.
Agility Multichannel has two offices. One, in York, UK:
And another, in Chicago, US, up there on the sixth floor:
We have a terrific team in Bangalore, India, as well:
Our management trio: Jason Simpson, CMO; Richard Hunt, CEO; Graham Cook, CTO:
Agility Multichannel was founded by these three in 2011. But Agility® PIM software has been around for more than ten years. And the company – previously as Pindar – has been developing, implementing, integrating and supporting product and content management and marketing solutions for over two decades. Richard and Graham have been a part of it since the beginning. All together, our developers and support team have roughly a thousand man/woman years of experience. We provide some related services too. We have many customers, all over the world, and we have numerous integration and technology partners in key regions and sectors. Each year we invite everyone to gather together at user group meetings and workshops that we host in Europe and North America. They’re a great exchange of insights and ideas that we enjoy and learn a lot from.
On our website you’ll find several use cases and much more information about us and our software and about PIM and MDM for product data, in broad strokes and fine detail. From time to time we’ll be delivering some specialised content here on this blog. In the meantime, here are a few of our guiding principles and some of what we think are Agility’s superior features: We believe that in today’s multichannel marketplace, the core of trust between you and your customer lies in your product information – your „record of truth.“ And we believe that trust is an asset that can’t be overvalued. Agility drives multichannel commerce, from the initial base SKU data aggregation – from suppliers, portals, spreadsheets… – through the distribution of product information via marketing channels, to sales analysis. It tightly integrates with other enterprise systems. So data can reside in Agility or it can simply be linked there, from all sources; viewed, edited and enriched for internal use or for flawlessly consistent, multidimensional, totally trustworthy promotions and communications, through all channels and touch points, in every language and region. We’re an independent company, so our software comes with no strings (or stacks) attached. No need to scrap and replace the whole infrastructure. We’ve already said it but it bears repeating: your existing systems – for instance, your ecommerce platform – will work great with Agility. We’re here to help you leverage – not forfeit – that investment. We’re dedicated to painless implementation and expeditious ROI. Our experience doing this over decades gives us a big advantage here. We’ve learned how to get it right the first time. We’re equally dedicated to giving each individual user an elegant interface that is as simple as can be – well tailored and easy on the eye. Our long experience listening to the people who use Agility day in and day out has taught us to put this right at the top of our priorities. The continuous, collaborative work we do with any one of our customers to enhance our software is to the benefit of all. They range from fast-growth and medium-sized to Fortune 500. They have 2-2000 users; manage a single language or 40+; have 800 or millions of SKUs; access our system from a single site or from multiple locations around the world. But all of them are product-based and marketing-focused, and our PIM is an integral part of their MDM infrastructure and winning multichannel commerce strategy. We’re right there at the core, where that trust resides, and we consider it an honored position. Thanks for reading. We hope you’ll visit here again soon. You can also find us on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, Slideshare, Vimeo, you name it. And don’t forget the phone. We also make house calls.