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Here’s why your business needs product information management

Chief Product Architect & Offering Manager, Persistent, an IBM Business Partner

Does your company have a single source of truth for your business’ most important data? Then it’s time to learn why you need to invest in product information management.

Product information management (PIM) is a subset of the overarching Master Data Management (MDM) space, and it’s primary use is to help you create a master copy of product information. In this context, “products” could be the actual physical products which you sell in stores, or it could also be “soft” products, such as credit cards, loans or mortgages. Today, I’ll solely focus on physical products. 

Businesses maintain product information across a broad range of systems. It could be stored somewhere in enterprise resource planning (ERP), a product lifecycle management system (PLM), a cloud database—or worst of all, a spreadsheet. To make matters worse, many companies have multiple of these systems—either because of “shadow IT” efforts from disconnected teams, or because of mergers or acquisitions over the years.

Our team once worked with a client – not a small business, they produce about $6 billionin revenue – mention to us they are losing millions a year because they can’t get accurate product information out to websites consistently. They had no governance nor control over the spreadsheets being shared between product owners. We had yet another organization with billion-dollar revenue reach out to us because of the same challenges of using spreadsheets.

The traditional enterprise ERPs, PLMs, supply chain management systems – and especially spreadsheets – aren’t built for the efficacies which are needed for managing, governing or syndicating product information.

There are many reasons why organizations need a robust PIM solution. The most important reason is because of continuously increasing consumer demand for digital commerce. We’re all buying more stuff online through web or mobile rather than visiting stores. When shopping online, a consumer is not only looking for a competitive price but also accurate product information with images and videos of the product to make an informed purchasing decision. A robust PIM solution can feed up-to-date product information into eCommerce platforms in an automated and reliable way. 

Another reason you might need a PIM solution is to keep strict governance around the product information. For example, a company probably would not want just anyone to update compliance-related information on a product, which could create legal liabilities for the business. 

A PIM solution also allows you to build governance around such requirements with robust workflow capabilities that control access to the attributes following the unique requirements of an organization. A PIM solution also allows you to associate appropriate digital assets – such as images, videos or product brochures – with the exact corresponding product. Only the correct assets get syndicated to downstream channels—eCommerce, mobile, POS or marketing collateral. Here’s one example: you probably do not want to serve the same high-res image on website to the mobile app as it would probably slow down the shopping experience for the end user. A PIM solution can ensure you send the right product information to the downstream channels in a consistent, automated and reliable way.

Ready to learn more how PIM can help your business? Read this report to understand how PIM and MDM come together to help you master your product data. Or visit the IBM Master Data Management product page to learn how to get started.