How the Covid-19 Outbreak Can Change Data Management

From sitting at home these are my thoughts about how data management can be changed due to the current outbreak of the Covid-19 (Corona) virus and the longer-term behaviour impact after the pandemic hopefully will be over.

Ecommerce Will Grow Faster

Both households and organizations are buying more online and this trend is increasing due to the urge of keeping a distance between humans. The data management discipline that underpins well executed ecommerce is Product Information Management (PIM). We will see more organizations implementing PIM solutions and we must see more effective and less time-consuming ways of implementing PIM solutions.

Data Governance Should Mature Faster

The data governance discipline has until now been quite immature and data governance activities have been characterized by an endless row of offline meetings. As data governance is an imperative in PIM and any other data management quest, we must shape data governance frameworks that are more ready to use, and we must have online learning resources available for both professionals and participating knowledge workers with various roles.

Data Sharing Could Develop Faster

People, organizations and countries initially act in a selfish manner during a crisis, but we must realize that collaboration including data sharing is the only way forward. Hopefully we will see more widespread data sharing enterprise wide as this will ease remote working. Also, we could see increasing interenterprise (business ecosystem wide) data sharing which in particular will ease PIM implementations through automated Product Data Syndication (PDS).

Covid Data Management

10 MDMish TLAs You Should Know

TLA stands for Three Letter Acronym. The world is full of TLAs. The IT world is indeed full of TLAs. The Data Management world is also full of TLAs. Here are 10 TLAs from the data management space that surrounds Master Data Management:

Def MDM

MDM: Master Data Management can be defined as a comprehensive method of enabling an enterprise to link all of its critical data to a common point of reference. When properly done, MDM improves data quality, while streamlining data sharing across personnel and departments. In addition, MDM can facilitate computing in multiple system architectures, platforms and applications. You can find the source of this definition and 3 other – somewhat similar – definitions in the post 4 MDM Definitions: Which One is the Best?

The most addressed master data domains are parties encompassing customer, supplier and employee roles, things as products and assets as well as location.

Def PIM

PIM: Product Information Management is a discipline that overlaps MDM. In PIM you focus on product master data and a long tail of specific product information – often called attributes – that is needed for a given classification of products.

Furthermore, PIM deals with how products are related as for example accessories, replacements and spare parts as well as the cross-sell and up-sell opportunities there are between products.

PIM also handles how products have digital assets attached.

This data is used in omni-channel scenarios to ensure that the products you sell are presented with consistent, complete and accurate data. Learn more in the post Five Product Information Management Core Aspects.

Def DAM

DAM: Digital Asset Management is about handling extended features of digital assets often related to master data and especially product information. The digital assets can be photos of people and places, product images, line drawings, certificates, brochures, videos and much more.

Within DAM you are able to apply tags to digital assets, you can convert between the various file formats and you can keep track of the different format variants – like sizes – of a digital asset.

You can learn more about how these first 3 mentioned TLAs are connected in the post How MDM, PIM and DAM Stick Together.

Def DQM

DQM: Data Quality Management is dealing with assessing and improving the quality of data in order to make your business more competitive. It is about making data fit for the intended (multiple) purpose(s) of use which most often is best to achieved by real-world alignment. It is about people, processes and technology. When it comes to technology there are different implementations as told in the post DQM Tools In and Around MDM Tools.

The most used technologies in data quality management are data profiling, that measures what the data stored looks like, and data matching, that links data records that do have the same values, but describes the same real world entity.

Def RDM

RDM: Reference Data Management encompass those typically smaller lists of data records that are referenced by master data and transaction data. These lists do not change often. They tend to be externally defined but can also be internally defined within each organization.

Examples of reference data are hierarchies of location references as countries, states/provinces and postal codes, different industry code systems and how they map and the many product classification systems to choose from.

Learn more in the post What is Reference Data Management (RDM)?

Def CDI

CDI: Customer Data Integration is considered as the predecessor to MDM, as the first MDMish solutions focused on federating customer master data handled in multiple applications across the IT landscape within an enterprise.

The most addressed sources with customer master data are CRM applications and ERP applications, however most enterprises have several of other applications where customer master data are captured.

You may ask: What Happened to CDI?

Def CDP

CDP: Customer Data Platform is an emerging kind of solution that provides a centralized registry of all data related to parties regarded as (prospective) customers at an enterprise.

In that way CDP goes far beyond customer master data by encompassing traditional transaction data related to customers and the emerging big data sources too.

Right now, we see such solutions coming both from MDM solution vendors and CRM vendors as reported in the post CDP: Is that part of CRM or MDM?

Def ADM

ADM: Application Data Management is about not just master data, but all critical data that is somehow shared between personel and departments. In that sense MDM covers all master within an organization and ADM covers all (critical) data in a given application and the intersection is looking at master data in a given application.

ADM is an emerging term and we still do not have a well-defined market – if there ever will be one – as examined in the post Who are the ADM Solution Providers?

Def PXM

PXM: Product eXperience Management is another emerging term that describes a trend to distance some PIM solutions from the MDM flavour and more towards digital experience / customer experience themes.

In PXM the focus is on personalization of product information, Search Ingine Optimization and exploiting Artificial Intelligence (AI) in those quests.

Read more about it in the post What is PxM?

Def PDS

PDS: Product Data Syndication connects MDM, PIM (and other) solutions at each trading partner with each other within business ecosystems. As this is an area where we can expect future growth along with the digital transformation theme, you can get the details in the post What is Product Data Syndication (PDS)?

One example of a PDS service is the Product Data Lake solution I have been working with during the last couple of year. Learn why this PDS service is needed here.

It Is Black Friday and Cyber Monday All the Time at the Disruptive MDM / PIM / DQM List

The upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday are synonymous with good deals.

At the Disruptive MDM / PIM / DQM List there are good deals all the days.

As a potential buyer on the look for a solution covering your Master Data Management (MDM), Product Information Management (PIM) and/or Data Quality Management (DQM) needs you can use the free service that based on your context, scope and requirement selects the best fit solution(s). You can start here.

Black Friday

As a solution provider you can against a very modest fee register your solution here.

Happy Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

10 Data Management TLAs You Should Know

TLA stands for Three Letter Acronym. The world is full of TLAs. The IT world is full of TLAs. The Data Management world is full of TLAs. Here are 10 TLAs from the data management world that have been mentioned a lot of times on this blog and the sister blog over at The Disruptive MDM / PIM / DQM List:

MDM = Master Data Management can be defined as a comprehensive method of enabling an enterprise to link all of its critical data to a common point of reference. When properly done, MDM improves data quality, while streamlining data sharing across personnel and departments. In addition, MDM can facilitate computing in multiple system architectures, platforms and applications. You can find the source of this definition and 3 other – somewhat similar – definitions in the post 4 MDM Definitions: Which One is the Best?

PIM = Product Information Management is a discipline that overlaps MDM. In PIM you focus on product master data and a long tail of specific product information related to each given classification of products. This data is used in omni-channel scenarios to ensure that the products you sell are presented with consistent, complete and accurate data. Learn more in the post Five Product Information Management Core Aspects.

DAM = Digital Asset Management is about handling rich media files often related to master data and especially product information. The digital assets can be photos of people and places, product images, line drawings, brochures, videos and much more. You can learn more about how these first 3 mentioned TLAs are connected in the post How MDM, PIM and DAM Stick Together.

DQM = Data Quality Management is dealing with assessing and improving the quality of data in order to make your business more competitive. It is about making data fit for the intended (multiple) purpose(s) of use which most often is best to achieved by real-world alignment. It is about people, processes and technology. When it comes to technology there are different implementations as told in the post DQM Tools In and Around MDM Tools.

RDM = Reference Data Management encompass those typically smaller lists of data records that are referenced by master data and transaction data. These lists do not change often. They tend to be externally defined but can also be internally defined within each organization. Learn more in the post What is Reference Data Management (RDM)?

10 TLA show

CDI = Customer Data Integration, which is considered as the predecessor to MDM, as the first MDMish solutions focussed on federating customer master data handled in multiple applications across the IT landscape within an enterprise. You may ask: What Happened to CDI?

CDP = Customer Data Platform is an emerging kind of solution that provides a centralized registry of all data related to parties regarded as (prospective) customers at an enterprise. Right now, we see such solutions coming both from MDM solution vendors and CRM vendors as reported in the post CDP: Is that part of CRM or MDM?

ADM = Application Data Management, which is about not just master data, but all critical data however limited to a single (suite of) application(s) at the time. ADM is an emerging term and we still do not have a well-defined market as examined in the post Who are the ADM Solution Providers?

PXM = Product eXperience Management is another emerging term that describes a trend to distance some PIM solutions from the MDM flavour and more towards digital experience / customer experience themes. Read more about it in the post What is PxM?

PDS = Product Data Syndication, which connects MDM, PIM (and other) solutions at each trading partner with each other within business ecosystems. As this is an area where we can expect future growth along with the digital transformation theme, you can get the details in the post What is Product Data Syndication (PDS)?

The Pain of Getting Product Information from Your Suppliers

If you are a merchant (retailer or a B2B dealer) of tangible goods a huge challenge in today’s data driven world is the get complete product information from your suppliers being the importers, brand owners and/or manufacturers of the products.

There are plenty of bad ways of trying to do that:

  • Send them a spreadsheet to be filled in
  • Build a supplier portal where they can do the work
  • Get the data from a data pool
  • Outsource the collection process to someone far away

Sean Sinclair sums this up nicely in the LinkedIn article called Feeding the Monster – Product Data Onboarding for ‘Hundreds and Thousands’…

Coincidentally Sean and I at the same time worked with these challenges at two different major competing UK distributors/dealers of building materials up in the West Midlands.

The only solution will be to create a win-win situation for both manufacturers and merchants as explained in the post Merchants vs Manufacturers in the Information Age.

Standoff both sides narrow

Top 15 MDM / PIM Requirements in RFPs

A Request for Proposal (RFP) process for a Master Data Management (MDM) and/or Product Information Management (PIM) solution has a hard fact side as well as there are The Soft Sides of MDM and PIM RFPs.

The hard fact side is the detailed requirements a potential vendor has to answer to in what in most cases is the excel sheet the buying organization has prepared – often with the extensive help from a consultancy.

Here are what I have seen as the most frequently included topics for the hard facts in such RFPs:

  • MDM and PIM: Does the solution have functionality for hierarchy management?
  • MDM and PIM: Does the solution have workflow management included?
  • MDM and PIM: Does the solution support versioning of master data / product information?
  • MDM and PIM: Does the solution allow to tailor the data model in a flexible way?
  • MDM and PIM: Does the solution handle master data / product information in multiple languages / character sets / script systems?
  • MDM and PIM: Does the solution have capabilities for (high speed) batch import / export and real-time integration (APIs)?
  • MDM and PIM: Does the solution have capabilities within data governance / data stewardship?
  • MDM and PIM: Does the solution integrate with “a specific application”? – most commonly SAP, MS CRM/ERPs, SalesForce?
  • MDM: Does the solution handle multiple domains, for example customer, vendor/supplier, employee, product and asset?
  • MDM: Does the solution provide data matching / deduplication functionality and formation of golden records?
  • MDM: Does the solution have integration with third-party data providers for example business directories (Dun & Bradstreet / National registries) and address verification services?
  • MDM: Does the solution underpin compliance rules as for example data privacy and data protection regulations as in GDPR / other regimes?
  • PIM: Does the solution support product classification and attribution standards as eClass, ETIM (or other industry specific / national standards)?
  • PIM: Does the solution support publishing to popular marketplaces (form of outgoing Product Data Syndication)?
  • PIM: Does the solution have a functionality to ease collection of product information from suppliers (incoming Product Data Syndication)?

Learn more about how I can help in the blog page about MDM / PIM Tool Selection Consultancy.

MDM PIM RFP Wordle

PIM and PDS

Product Information Management (PIM) has a sub discipline called Product Data Syndication (PDS).

PIM and PDS

While PIM basically is about how to collect, enrich, store and publish product information within a given organization, PDS is about how to share product information between trading partners. One challenge here is that two trading partners very seldom use the same product classification system(s), taxonomy and structure for product information.

Some PIM vendors offer PDS as extensions to their PIM offerings. Examples are Stibo Systems and Salsify. Other MDM (Master Data Management) / PIM vendors are facilitating PDS through general data integration services in their wider data management offerings. Examples are Informatica and Dell Boomi.

Product Data Synchronization is a variant concept of PDS. The most known service is the Global Data Synchronization Network (GSDN) operated by GS1 through data pool vendors, where 1WorldSync is the dominant one. In here trading partners are following the same classification, taxonomy and structure for a group of products (typically food and beverage) and their most common attributes in use in a given geography.

However, from working as a consultant in the MDM and PIM space i know that there are lots of organizations who cannot utilize the current offerings in a cost effective way and having all their needs for covering the many product attributes you need to share today as well as product relationships and the related digital assets. This is the reason why we have launched a Product Data Syndication service called Product Data Lake.

The Need for Speed in Product Information Flow

One of the bottlenecks in Product Information Management (PIM) is getting product data ready for presentation to the buying audience as fast as possible.

Product data travels a long way from the origin at the manufacturing company, perhaps through distributors and wholesalers to the merchant or marketplace. In that journey the data undergo transformation (and translation) from the state it has at the producing organization to the state chosen by the selling organization.

However, time to market is crucial. This applies to when a new product range is chosen by the merchant or when there are changes and improvements at the manufacturer.

At Product Data Lake we enable a much faster pace in these quests than when doing this by using emails, spreadsheets and passive portals.

Take two minutes to test if your company is exchanging product data at the speed of a cheetah or a garden snail.

Cheetah

To use Excel or not to use Excel in Product Information Management?

Excel is used heavily throughout data management and this is true for Product Information Management (PIM) too.

The reason of being for PIM solutions is often said to be to eliminate the use of spreadsheets. However, PIM solutions around have functionality to co-exist with spreadsheets, because spreadsheets are still a fact of life.

This is close to me as I have been working on a solution to connect PIM solutions (and other solutions for handling product data) between trading partners. This solution is called Product Data Lake.

Our goal is certainly also to eliminate the use of spreadsheets in exchanging product information between trading partners. However, as an intermediate state we must accept that spreadsheets exists either as the replacement of PIM solutions or because PIM solutions does not (yet) fulfill all purposes around product information.

So, consequently we have added a little co-existence with Excel spreadsheets in today´s public online release of Product Data Lake version 1.10.

PDL version 1 10

The challenge is that product information is multi-dimensional as we for example have products and their attributes typically represented in multiple languages. Also, each product group has its collection of attributes that are relevant for that group of products.

Spreadsheets are basically two dimensional – rows and columns.

In Product Data Lake version 1.10 we have included a data entry sheet that mirrors spreadsheets. You can upload a two-dimensional spreadsheet into a given product group and language, and you can download that selection into a spreadsheet.

This functionality can typically be used by the original supplier of product information – the manufacturer. This simple representation of data will then be part of the data lake organisation of varieties of product information supplemented by digital assets, product relationships and much more.