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To consistency and beyond

Much of the conversation around MDM of Product Data and PIM has traditionally been centered on one word: consistency. If customers don’t find consistent data – prices and savings, weights, dimensions, colors, descriptions, etc. – where ever they look (and they’re looking everywhere), they won’t be your customers for long. That’s no longer theoretical. It’s today’s baseline reality.

The next generation of customer engagement? The next generation of customer engagement?

 

The day before yesterday at the Ventana Research Technology Innovation Summit (where we received a handsome award) I had the pleasure of being on a panel discussing “Next Generation Customer Engagement – Improving the Interaction and Experience.” It got me thinking and feeling excited about the path we’ve chosen for Agility®. Much of the conversation around MDM of Product Data and PIM has traditionally been centered on one word: consistency. If customers don’t find consistent data – prices and savings, weights, dimensions, colors, descriptions, etc. – where ever they look (and they’re looking everywhere), they won’t be your customers for long. That’s no longer theoretical. It’s today’s baseline reality. The discussion about consistency is settled.  It’s time to look beyond. Getting past this first, critical threshold of customer engagement requires replacing multiple silos with a MDM of Product Data or PIM system that must be integrated with the supply chain, the internal ERP and merchandising system and with order management and ecommerce systems.  I’m certainly not knocking consistency – where accuracy, speed-to-market and customer satisfaction matter (again, everywhere) it’s absolutely essential and must be done right. But in today’s digital environment no company (and no PIM vendor) can afford to stop there. You may be keeping up with the proliferation of channels and touch points. But are you keeping up with your customers, whose sophistication and expectations are growing apace? If not, you’re facing huge risks and missing even greater opportunities. In a world where omnichannel is replacing multichannel as a buzzword, and buying journeys are all-consuming – invading life at home, in the office, the gym, the school pick-up line… – it isn’t enough for each message received to reliably echo the one preceding it. Products, like the people who use them, have their own unique DNA. They’re consistent, yes, but in multiple dimensions. Nor are buyers’ needs and wants static. They’re dynamic; sensitive to location, time of day and many other influences. A simple illustration: a customer looking at a website from home may well search for store hours and directions, which can trigger special offers that propel them out the door. In the store, they’re fed real-time information on where to find the items they’re interested in, along with features, benefits, comparisons and related products. shopping bike Studies have shown that mobile usage dominates early in the day, PC during working hours, and tablet later in the evening. Each device, each app, offers new perspective. To keep customers engaged now, product information and assets should relate, respond and complement, accordingly; structured specifically for email campaigns, websites, or tablets; for store signage or for marketplaces like Amazon. And all of this brings us back to that savvy customer, getting more and more sophisticated and discerning every day, not just about the technology but about their own wants, needs and tastes. Beyond the consistent must lie the personalized. Personalizing product data may seem mind-bogglingly complex but at Agility Multichannel we’ve long seen it coming, and we know that it can only be achieved if there’s a dynamic interaction between the product information management system and all other technologies at the core of the business. That’s why Agility® provides seamless integration with all key channel solution providers in the areas of commerce, marketplaces, campaign management, digital publishing, analytics, etc.

Mark Smith presents Agility Multichannel with Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award 11/12/13 Mark Smith presents Agility Multichannel with Ventana Research Technology Innovation Award 11/12/13

 

Interaction is where Agility excels and stands apart from the crowd. Again, this brings us right back to people.  With Agility v6 and our Agility Modular Interface (AMI), every person responsible for authoring, approving, enriching and syndicating product information – vendors, merchants, product managers, content managers, et al – can view this data in context, exactly as it will appear in each channel and touch point, ensuring that it’s structured optimally, so that multidimensional view of the product can emerge for each customer, on his/her own terms. Usability is for us a driving principle. Unlike any other PIM, our interface is not just intuitive and simple to use but it can be custom configured for every individual end user. This ensures that they’re not just getting the most out of it but also putting the most into it. Our workflows, which are exquisitely easy to set up, are designed to encourage collaboration between teams, departments and stakeholders, and that’s just as important as the interaction between technologies. Your team’s engagement begets your customer’s engagement. Quality input results in quality output. Silos to consistency to personalization. The beyond is now.

Richard Hunt, President and CEO, Agility Multichannel