Everyday Digital Transformation

Ben Rund of Informatica has a Youtube video running these days with the title/question: Enough Heard on Digital Transformation by Uber & AirBnB?

I share this sentiment with Ben. You don’t have to disrupt the whole world to take part in digital transformation and you don’t have to start something completely new. As an established enterprise you can transform your current business and combine the good things from the past with the new opportunities aroused from the digital evolution.

Forrester, the other analyst firm, some years ago devided digital transformation into a loop of:

  • Digital Customer Experience
  • Digital Operational Excellence

The below figure visualizes this landscape:


What I would like to elaborate on related to this picture is the business ecosystem of your enterprise, which must be included in the everyday digital transformation.

Let’s take the example of product information management:

However, connect is better than collect. If you are dependent on receiving spreadsheets with product information from your trading partners or you let them put their spreadsheets into your supplier product data portal, you have an everyday digital transformation in front of you.

The solution for that is Product Data Lake.


Shipping Product Information

When looking out of the windows from Product maersk-seen-from-pdl-in-sunshineData Lake global headquarters (well, that is also our home office) we see our neighbour, which is the global headquarters of Maersk, a major worldwide operating shipping company.

In all humbleness we do very parallel business. Maersk is good at moving goods. We are going to move data about the goods. Product data or product information if you like.

The reason of being for a shipping company is that it would be very ineffective for each manufacturer of goods, if they should arrange and carry out the transportation of their manufactured goods to each distributor around the world. Furthermore, it would be equally ineffective, if each distributor should arrange and carry out the transportation of their range of goods to each reseller or large end buyer.

Until now, this ineffectiveness has unfortunately been the case when it comes to exchanging data about the goods. Manufacturers are asked by their distributors to provide product information in a different way for each – most often meaning in a different spreadsheet. And the same craziness repeats itself when it comes to exchanging data between distributors, resellers and large end users of product information.

At Product Data Lake we have set sail to end this insanity and bring digitalization to shipping of product information. Learn more about how exactly we will arrange that journey on Product Data Lake Documentation and Data Governance.

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Ways of Sharing Product Data in Business Ecosystems

Sharing product data within business ecosystems of manufacturers, distributors, retailers and end users has grown dramatically during the last years driven by the increased use of e-commerce and other customer self-service sales approaches.

At Product Data Lake we recently had a survey about how companies shares product data today. The figures were as seen below:

our survey

The result shows that there are different approaches out there. Spreadsheets still rules the world though closely, in this survey, followed by external data portals. Direct system to system approaches are also present while supplier portals seems to be not that common.

At the Product Data Lake we aim to embrace those different approaches. Well, regarding use of spreadsheets and digital asset files via eMail our embracement is meant to be that of a constrictor snake. The Product Data Lake is the solution to end the hailstorms of spreadsheets with product data within cross company supply chains.

For external data portals, the Product Data Lake offers the concept of a data reservoir. A data reservoir in the Product Data Lake can be with an industry focus or with a special focus on certain data elements as for example sustainability data as described in the post Sustainability Data in PIM.

Direct systems to system exchange can be orchestrated through the Product Data Lake and supplier portals can served by the Product Data Lake. In that way existing investments in those approaches, that typically are implemented to serve basic data elements shared with your top trading partners, can be supplemented by a method that caters for exchange with all your trading partners and covering all data elements and digital assets.

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Take an Ultra Short Survey on Product Data Exchange

How do you exchange product data with your trading partners today? At the Product Data Lake we would like to know some more about that. We do expect that many still send eMails with spreadsheets and digital assets. But please tell us how it is with you. Take the survey by clicking here.


Also please comment on this blog post on your plans or if you work with Product Information Management (PIM) as a service provider and have experiences to share.

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Data Management for Business Ecosystems

Business ecosystems is an important concept of the digital age. The father of business ecosystems, James F. Moore, defined business ecosystems as:

“An economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individuals—the organisms of the business world. The economic community produces goods and services of value to customers, who are themselves members of the ecosystem. The member organisms also include suppliers, lead producers, competitors, and other stakeholders”.

The problem with data management methodologies and tools today, as I see it, is that they emphasizes on the needs inside the corporate walls of a single company without much attention to, that every single company is a member of one or several business ecosystems as examined in the post called MDM and SCM: Inside and outside the corporate walls.

Opening your data management, including your Master Data Management (MDM), up to the outside is scary business, as the ecosystems often will include your competitors as well as mentioned in the post Toilet Seats and Data Quality.

Nevertheless, if you want your company to survive in the digital age by building up your company’s digitilazation effort you have to extend your data management strategy to encompass the business ecosystems where you are a member.

And now some promotion:

Helene light 03
The Product Data Lake: A tool for business ecosystems

Take A Quick Tour around the Product Data Lake

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A Quick Tour around the Product Data Lake

The Product Data Lake is a cloud service for sharing product data in the eco-systems of manufacturers, distributors, retailers and end users of product information.

PDL tour 01As an upstream provider of products 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.

The Product Data Lake facilitates these requirements by letting you push your product data into the lake in your in-house structure that may or may not be fully or partly compliant to an international standard.

PDL tour 02

As an upstream provider, you may want to push product data and digital assets from several different internal sources.

The product data lake tackles this requirement by letting you operate several upload profiles.

PDL tour 03

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 introduce 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.

The Product Data Lake facilitates these requirements by letting you pull your product data from the lake in your in-house structure that may or may not be fully or partly compliant to an international standard.

PDL tour 04

In the Product Data Lake, you can take the role of being an upstream provider and a downstream receiver at the same time by being a midstream subscriber to the Product Data Lake. Thus, Product Data Lake covers the whole supply chain from manufacturing to retail and even the requirements of B2B (Business-to-Business) end users.

PDL tour 05

The Product Data Lake uses the data lake concept for big data by letting the transformation and linking of data between many structures be done when data are to be consumed for the first time. The goal is that the workload in this system has the resemblance of an iceberg where 10% of the ice is over water and 90 % is under water. In the Product Data Lake manually setting up the links and transformation rules should be 10 % of the duty and the rest being 90 % of the duty will be automated in the exchange zones between trading partners.

PDL tour 06

TwoLine Blue

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It is not all about People or Processes or Technology

People Processes TechnologyWhen following the articles, blog posts and other inspirational stuff in the data management realm you frequently stumble upon sayings about a unique angle towards what it is all about, like:

  • It is all about people, meaning that if you can change and control the attitude of people involved in data management everything will be just fine. The problem is that people have been around for thousands of years and we have not nailed that one yet – and probably will not do that isolated in the data management realm. But sure, a lot of consultancy fees will go down that drain still.
  • It is all about processes. Yes it is. The only problem is that processes are dependent on people and technology.
  • It is all about technology. Well, no one actually says so. However, relying on that sentiment – and that shit does happen, is a frequent reason why data management initiatives goes wrong.

The trick is to find a balance between a priceworthy people focused approach, a heartfelt process way of going forward and a solid methodology to exploit technology in the good cause of better data management all aligned with achieving business benefits.

How hard can it be?

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Master Data Agility and Business Agility

The term “data agility” was aired recently in a Forbes.com article by H.O. Maycotte. The article is called Ready, Set, Go – How Fast Is Your Data?

The article revolves around getting your data more fit. Notably, it is not about getting data fit for a known purpose of use, which is the thinking that has been around in the data and information quality realm for years. It is about having the data that makes you able to quickly adjust business strategies to meet changing customer needs.

AgileSome of this data will be master data. Master data is arguably the most difficult kind of data to work with in order to achieve data agility. This challenge was examined in the post Business Agility, Continuous Improvement and MDM.

A week ago I had the pleasure of hosting a workshop on the linkage between Business Process Management (BPM) and Master Data Management (MDM) at the Marcus Evans MDM conference in Barcelona, Spain. One of the solutions we referred to many times was to establish a common reporting approach across BPM and MDM grounded on the sentiment that you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Setting improved agility as a goal for a master data programme is an additional approach. I am working on such a programme right now. Our executive sponsor actually wanted selling more stuff to be the goal. My promise is that the improved master data agility will lead to improved business agility that will lead to being able to sell more stuff in the future.

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Global MDM versus Local BPM

The linkage between Master Data Management (MDM) and Business Process Management (BPM) was intensively discussed at a workshop on a MDM conference organized by Marcus Evans in Barcelona, Spain today. More than 30 master data professionals from a range of large mainly European originated companies attended the workshop.

There was a broad agreement about that the intersection between MDM and BPM is growing – and should be doing so.

Google EarthOne of the challenges identified is that MDM tends to be global within the enterprise while BPM tends to be local.

The global versus local theme has frequently been mentioned as a challenge over the decade MDM has existed as a discipline. The core MDM global versus local challenges spans over common definitions, common value tables and common data models across different geographies. Having a mix of common business rules and business rules that have to be local adds to the difficulties. When applying the full impact of business process management with the variety of formal and informal organizational structures, decision rules and working culture there are certainly both wins and obstacles in linking MDM and BPM.

I think the commonly used phrase about thinking globally and acting locally makes sense in the intersection between MDM and BPM. Thinking big and starting small helps too.

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Business Agility, Continuous Improvement and MDM

Being able to react to market changes in an agile way is the path to the survival of your business today. As you may not nail it in the first go, the ability to correct with continuous improvement is the path for your business to stay alive.

open-doorDoing business process improvement most often involves master data as examined in the post Master Data and Business Processes. The people side of this is challenging. The technology side isn’t a walkover either.

When looking at Master Data Management (MDM) platforms in sales presentations it seems very easy to configure a new way of orchestrating a business process. You just drag and drop some states and transitions in a visual workflow manager. In reality, even when solely looking at the technical side, it is much more painful.

MDM solutions can be hard to maneuver. You have to consider existing data and the data models where the data sits. Master data is typically used with various interfaces across many business functions and business units. There are usually many system integrations running around the MDM component in an IT landscape.

A successful MDM implementation does not just cure some pain points in business processes. The solution must also be able to be maneuvered to support business agility and continuous improvement. Some of the data quality and data governance aspects of this is explored in the post Be Prepared.

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