Edgenet is a provider of PIM & GDSN solutions with clients like AutoZone, Wal-Mart, Google & Bing Shopping, and more.
The effective consolidation of product information and reconfiguration of processes built thereupon is however critical for a successful strategic business outcome. A distributor of catalogs, for example, looking to expand into five new countries without having to realign its catalog production processes will probably be unable to execute on such a strategy. PIM becomes strategically necessary when major customers start demanding that new data sharing standards (such as global data synchronization) be supported, in conjunction with an international expansion strategy.
PIM in this example represents a solution for centralized, media-independent data maintenance for providing purchasing, production and communications data for repeated use on/in multiple IT systems, languages, output media and publications. It also provides a solution for efficient data collection, management, refinement and output. Information is utilized in varying environments and contexts such as for detailed product descriptions with pricing info in product catalogs or for size and weight data for calculating freight costs in a logistics department. The increasing number of channels for product data (e.g., web sites, smartphones, tablets, print catalogs, electronic data feeds, bricks-and-mortar-stores) emphasized the need for product information management, as information kept by businesses is frequently scattered throughout disparate departments and held by certain employees or systems instead of being available centrally. Data are saved in various formats or are only available in hard copy form. Product data often exists in ERP systems, R&D PLM systems, spreadsheets and personal databases.
The solution has to integrate seamlessly into inventory management and logistics systems in order to provide real cost savings. Centralized data management is particularly well-suited for company websites, as documents, content and media objects such as product images can be linked with other business objects such as customers or products. An e-commerce component manages the ordering process and the online presentation of dynamic content.
Distinction can be made between four separate sub-areas. PIM systems are used to manage structured data in a business context for feeding into any kind of distribution channel, from electronic catalogs to online shops to print catalogs. Content management systems (CMS) are more commercially oriented and provide a framework for knowledge management or informational service offerings through the management of unstructured, document-type content. Enterprise content management is a term encompassing technologies, methods and tools used for gathering, imaging, storing, archiving and providing electronic content. Document management systems (DMS) are deployed for archiving, and PDM involves the management of structured, technical data for such applications as parts diagrams and lists.
Also, startup like Salsify Inc. is offering a very good SaaS service the help bridge the gap between suppliers and retailers when sharing product information.
In terms of company IT infrastructure, this means having a PIM platform running over alongside a classic Oracle or open-source database such as MySQL with a J2EE application server, and/or xml based exchange of product information (e.g., using the Open ICEcat format). This forms a foundation upon which to build sales and procurement business processes. With PIM solutions, access and user authorizations for all database information, ordering processes linked with such inventory management systems as SAP and the mechanisms for modular expansions are managed via a web-based administration interface. PIM systems consolidate all product information onto a single platform.
Adnovate has positioned as a niche player. According to independent technology research company Gartner 's latest Magic Quadrant for Master Data Management of Product Data Solutions in 2013 leading vendors in the market are Oracle, IBM, Stibo Systems, Riversand and Tibco Software. A newer provider ClaraStream offers a cloud-based solution focused on helping mid-market retailers manage their product information across online channels.
The better the layout and output capabilities of the associated desktop publishing program, the more catalog production can be automated. Centrally maintained data can also be accessed for print or CD catalogs and websites. The publishing component of an e-business solution creates pooled data, making it possible to save and manage catalog content in a media-independent manner.
Forrester Research, another independent technology research company, identified in their 2014 Forrester Wave the leading Product Information Management vendors as Hybris, IBM, Informatica, Stibo Systems and Riversand.
A central set of product data can be used to feed consistent, accurate and up-to-date information to multiple output media such as web sites, print catalogs, ERP systems, and electronic data feeds to trading partners. Product Information Management or PIM refers to processes and technologies focused on centrally managing information about products, with a focus on the data required to market and sell the products through one or more distribution channels. PIM systems generally need to support multiple geographic locations, multi-lingual data, and maintenance and modification of product information within a centralized catalog to provide consistently accurate information to multiple channels in a cost-effective manner.
Data exchange interface standards such as Open ICEcat, etilize, CNET, BMEcat and OCI allow seamless interchange of electronic catalogs between vendors on the one hand and purchasing firms and marketplace operators on the other. Procurement systems and platforms such as online marketplaces are based upon electronic catalogs. PIM systems can load descriptive product information as content into a catalog management solution, where products are grouped and managed for specific target markets. Procurement solutions are closely related, which automate the procurement process for purchasing goods and services. These create transparency for the product data of multiple vendors to support the centralized management of multi-supplier catalogs and facilitate price and quality research.
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PIM solutions are most relevant for use by medium to large-sized firms in retailing, consumer goods and manufacturing. The following are the primary considerations in opting for a PIM solution:.
PIM started gaining broader attention among customers in the second half of 2004, as market analysts and the media began taking a closer look at this type of solution.
PIM becomes essential when integrating with SaaS vendors. Keeping the core product classification consistent throughout a workflow involving multiple SaaS partners supports the core SaaS proposition of rapid to market, cost effective solutions.
What is product information