By: Philip Howard, Research Director - Data Management, Bloor Research
Published: 5th August 2014
Copyright Bloor Research © 2014
There are essentially two different types of PIM (product information management). One is targeted at manufacturing and the other at marketing. Of course there is overlap, but the products that target on-line or printed catalogues tend to have a focus on that aspect of product management while manufacturing-style PIM has a rather different focus. It is unfortunate, therefore, that both product types have the same label. Moreover, based on recent discussions with Informatica it appears that the two are moving further apart rather than the reverse.
Specifically with respect to Informatica, the company has just released version 7.1 of Informatica PIM, which used to be the Heiler product, before being acquired by Informatica. This is very much in the marketing camp for PIM (along with Riversand and Stibo) with what the company calls omni-channel marketing support.
The most interesting new features, at least for me, are that Informatica PIM has been integrated with Informatica BPM (business process management), that the product now has a GDSN (global data synchronisation network) connector for B2B environments, and that it is been certified to run with IBM WebSphere Commerce.
Taken individually, each of these capabilities might be no more than interesting but collectively, especially when combined with future Informatica plans that I can’t disclose, it is clear that Informatica PIM is becoming much more than what I, at least, have historically thought of as PIM. Perhaps that is my misapprehension—I have always thought of PIM as MDM (master data management) for products and, as such, it was about ensuring the consistency and accuracy of product data: providing a 360o view of product information. And, yes, features like omni-channel marketing took PIM beyond pure MDM but I have always tended to think of this as merely an extension to core MDM capabilities.
However, once you start talking about BPM integration and B2B exchange I think you’re stretching that extension to breaking point. What I am hearing from Informatica is that there are actually a lot more things that you can do with product data than might be obvious at first glance. It’s rather as if CRM (customer relationship management) had not been invented and someone took CDI (customer data integration) and extended that into CRM.
There’s a second aspect to this. PIM is typically a technical sale. Even if it is part of a data governance solution it is typically IT-focused. However, when you starting talking about PIM in the context of real-time commerce or B2B exchange it becomes much more business focused. Indeed, this is precisely what Informatica has found. As a result, it is talking much more to business executives than it has in the past and this has implications beyond PIM itself but for Informatica more generally. Because the truth is that however good Informatica has traditionally been at selling to IT, it has not been very good at the business level. However, it is not difficult to see success at the PIM level rubbing off on other parts of Informatica and substantially improving its business level success.
Anyway, that is by the by. I really think that we need to start differentiating between the sort of PIM product that Airbus or Boeing might use and the PIM product that Dabs.com might use. While I am not usually a fan of marketing, surely someone can come up with an alternative for one or other of these PIMs.
Posted: 7th August 2014 | By Erasmus Holm :
Very interesting article Philip. From where I am sitting it is hardly news as we (Stibo Systems) have at least been doing PIM for manufacturing/distribution for many years.
Your points are very valid and I believe it also ends up with being that PIM for e.g Retail on/off-line commerce is very much a "hot" subject and have clear business cases.
I am however more a fan of compiling all the various definitions and 3 letter acronyms into simpler and clearer descriptions as the market for many can be confusing enough.
But good subject to bring up.
Posted: 8th August 2014 | By Ben Rund :
Thx Philip for your Blog on PIM 7.1 (which is a name for an App).
The key question for any of our customers' future business will be how to leverage intelligent and relevant data to predict the next logical action across different types of information.
With the growing amount of data and data consumers - data must be relevant to people to make their jobs better - weather it is data as a service or feeding the app they use to improve speed to market or better decision making.
Happy to discuss more on twitter @benrund
Posted: 8th August 2014 | By Rob Karel :
Great observations! While we actively support both buy-side and sell-side use cases, the commonality of requirements, users and business drivers has diverged over time. Our focus on customer experience and a buyers informed purchase journey targets multichannel marketers. The value drivers are customer loyalty, upsell and cross-sell optimization and maximizing revenue. It's a shift from data project focusing on cost reductions and improvements in operational efficiencies.
Master data and data relationships fuels optimal customer experiences. Your example of CRM and CDI is apt. PIM is an app managing the value and lifecycle of your product information and relationships, just as CRM is an app used to manage the value and lifecycle of your customer interactions and relationships.
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