Gravitational Collapse in the PIM Space

The previous post on this blog was called Gravitational Waves in the MDM World. Building further on space science, I would like to use the concept of gravitational collapse, which is the process that happens when a star or other space object is born. In this process, a myriad of smaller objects are gathered into a more dense object.

PIM (Product Information Management) is part of the larger MDM (Master Data Management) world. PIM solutions offered today serves very well the requirements for organizing and supporting the handling of product information inside each organization.

However, there is an instability when observing two trading partners. Today, the most common mean to share product data is to exchange one or several spreadsheets with product identification and product attributes (sometimes also called properties or features). Such spreadsheets may also contain links to digital assets being product images, line drawing documents, installation videos and other rich media stuff.

PIM1

As an upstream provider of product data, being a manufacturer or upstream distributor, you have these requirements:

  • When you introduces new products to the market, you want to make the related product data and digital assets available to your downstream partners in a uniform way
  • When you win a new downstream partner you want the means to immediately and professionally provide product data and digital assets for the agreed range
  • When you add new products to an existing agreement with a downstream partner, you want to be able to provide product data and digital assets instantly and effortless
  • When you update your product data and related digital assets, you want a fast and seamless way of pushing it to your downstream partners
  • When you introduce a new product data attribute or digital asset type, you want a fast and seamless way of pushing it to your downstream partners.
  • You may want to push product data and digital assets from several different internal sources.

As a downstream receiver of product data, being a downstream distributor, retailer or end user, you have these requirements:

  • When you engage with a new upstream partner you want the means to fast and seamless link and transform product data and digital assets for the agreed range from the upstream partner
  • When you add new products to an existing agreement with an upstream partner, you want to be able to link and transform product data and digital assets in a fast and seamless way
  • When your upstream partners updates their product data and related digital assets, you want to be able to receive the updated product data and digital assets instantly and effortless
  • When you choose to use a new product data attribute or digital asset type, you want a fast and seamless way of pulling it from your upstream partners
  • If you have a backlog of product data and digital asset collection with your upstream partners, you want a fast and cost effective approach to backfill the gap.

Fulfilling this with exchanging spreadsheets (and other peer-to-peer solutions) in the eco-system of trading partners is a chaotic mess.

PIM2

If you look at it from upstream being a manufacturer or upstream distributor the challenge is that you probably have hundreds of downstream receivers of product information. Each one requires their form of spreadsheet or other interface. They may even ask you to use their specific supplier portal meaning hundreds of different learning exercises on your side.

As a downstream receiver of product information being a downstream distributor, retailer or end user you have the opposite challenges. You probably have hundreds of upstream providers. If you go for having your own supplier portal you need to teach each of your suppliers and you have the software license and others burdens.

There is a need for a service that sits between the upstream and downstream trading partners. This service should help the upstream trading partners being manufactures and upstream distributors with sharing product data to many different downstream trading partners as well as it should eliminate or reduce the downstream trading partners need for implementing and maintaining supplier portals.

PIM3

In the end such a service will collapse the doomed galaxy of spreadsheets into an agile process driven service for sharing product data – called the Product Data Lake.

PIM4

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4 thoughts on “Gravitational Collapse in the PIM Space

  1. kenoconnordataconsultant 21st February 2016 / 13:45

    Reblogged this on Ken O'Connor Data Consultant and commented:
    All organisations have critical business processes. In today’s data driven world, business success depends on the quality of data that underpins your critical business processes, and flows between them.

    On 12th Feb 2016, the UK Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) published a “Data Review” of how 50 firms in the Insurance Industry assess the quality of data that underpins the validity and integrity of one of their most important business processes, their Solvency II Internal Model”.

    Regardless of the industry you are in, I recommend that you read the review. It contains examples of good practice, but also many “war stories” showing where firms got it wrong. One recurring theme is the failure of firms to realise the dependency between upstream and downstream business processes, and the data flow between them.

    Today is 21st Feb 2016 – and this morning I read a post by Henrik Lilliendahl that I have re-blogged here. Henrik’s post deals with Product Information Management (PIM) and is completely independent of the Insurance Industry or Solvency II. Yet Henrik has summarised brilliantly the relationship between upstream and downstream business processes (business partners), and the need for a “Data Broker Service” between them.

  2. Henrik Liliendahl 23rd February 2016 / 17:49

    Thanks for commenting Ken Yep, same principles apply in other scenarios.

  3. G Frégé 1st March 2016 / 17:12

    Interesting view of the typical issues… for over-passing the Excel lake, please look at solution such as the “Shotfarm Product Contend Network” or CNET (product data aggregation)… However, companies will still need a PIM tool to manage internally the “product data life cycle” (from en-boarding to publication). cheers

    • Henrik Liliendahl 1st March 2016 / 18:59

      Thanks Gilles for adding in. The Product Data Lake stands out as a process oriented service, which seamlessly connects the provider side upstream and the receiver side downstream. The best setup for this is indeed if there is a good PIM solution in both ends.

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