Master Data, Product Information, Digital Assets and Digital Ecosystems

When it comes to mastering product data there are these three kinds of data and supporting managing disciplines and solutions:

  • Master data and the supporting Master Data Management (MDM) discipline and a choice of MDM solutions for the technology part
  • Product information and the supporting Product Information Management (PIM) discipline and a choice of PIM solutions for the technology part
  • Digital assets and the supporting Digital Asset Management (DAM) discipline and a choice of DAM solutions for the technology part

What these disciplines are and how the available solutions relate was examined in the post How MDM, PIM and DAM Sticks Together. This post includes a model for that proposed by Simon Walker of Gartner (the analyst firm).

The right mix for your company depends on your business model and you will also have the choice of using a best of breed technology solution for your focus, that being MDM, PIM or DAM, as well as there are choices for a same branded solution, and in some cases also actually integrated solution, that supports MDM, PIM and DAM.

When selecting a (product) data management platform today you also must consider how this platform supports taking part in digital ecosystems, here meaning how you share product data with your trading partners in business ecosystems.

For the digital platform part supporting interacting with master data, product information and digital assets with your trading partners, who might have another focus than you, the solution is Product Data Lake.


How MDM, PIM and DAM Stick Together

When working with product data I usually put the data into this five level model:

Five levels

The model is explained in the post Five Product Data Levels.

A recent post by Simon Walker of Gartner, the analyst firm, outlined the possible system landscape. The post is called Creating the 360-Degree view of Product.


Simon defines these three kind of platforms for managing a 360 degree product data view:

  • MDM of product master data solutions help manage structured product data for enterprise operational and analytical use cases
  • PIM solutions help extend structured product data through the addition of rich product content for sales and marketing use cases
  • DAM solutions help users create and manage digital multimedia files for enterprise, sales and marketing use cases

These two models fit quite well together:


And oh, when it comes to creating a business ecosystem digital platform for exchanging product data with trading partners, the best model looks like this:


Learn more about Product Data Lake here.

PIM, Product MDM and Multi-Domain MDM

Over on the Informatica Perspectives blog Monica McDonnell of Informatica seems to be determined to separate Product Information Management (PIM) and Product Master Data Management (Product MDM) as we now have the second attempt in the post PIM is not Product MDM Part 2.

I can easily see the reason for this quest for Informatica, as Informatica will very much like to position the Heiler acquisition as an Informatica Multi-Domain MDM aware PIM solution as mentioned in the post MDM Aware MDM Solutions.

There will always be pros and cons for having capabilities delivered in smaller best of breed packages opposed to in larger integrated packages. On the MDM market the vendors pitch their offerings according to how they got there. SAP is using Hybris as an eCommerce focused PIM add-on to SAP. On the other hand Stibo Systems and Riversand have been adding MDM to PIM and now adds Multi-Domain to MDM as reported in the post The second part of the Multi-Domain MDM Magic Quadrant is out.

In the PIM / Product MDM realm we have several other considerations on how to address different disciplines with technology support. An important capability within PIM is Digital Asset Management (DAM) as described in the post Digital Assets and Product MDM. DAM can be a separate application or part of PIM / Product MDM. Technology support for Data Governance could also come separately as reported in the post Data governance tools: The new snake oil?

QuadrantNow, back to PIM versus Product MDM. I’m not sure it is wise to divorce these two. It seems to be a kind of back looking exercise. I would like to marry them as part of looking forward in a multi-domain MDM world. To catch up on Monica’s arguments PIM has been much about the sell-side of things. I think we should be better at integrating the buy-side and the sell-side of Product MDM / PIM as examined in the post An Alternative Multi-Domain MDM Quadrant.

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Digital Assets and Product MDM

Digital Asset Management (DAM) solutions are often seen working beside or within product Master Data Management (MDM) solutions.

I guess I might have been some of the first folks working with relating digital assets and enterprise software. That was in the early 90’s when I worked with Wang Laboratories that was a pioneer in handling digital images in the IT world.

Digital assets today are typically stored as files of well-known types as jpg, png and pdf. Within product MDM they are images of products, installation guides, safety handling sheets and so on.

The rise of the multi-channel theme has emphasized the importance of digital asset management capabilities.

Data quality is as ever an imperative. Related to well-known data quality dimensions that for example for product images means:

  • Uniqueness: You want to use the same image in your printed catalogue and on your web shop.
  • Accuracy: The image must show the described product and not something else.
  • Consistency: The images for similar products should have the same style.
carlsberg six pack
A random product image

Many of the leading product MDM solutions were born in the printed catalogue era. Here the product image was the dominant digital asset. Adding eCommerce and mCommerce means that a lot more digital asset types must be handled.

Usually we see digital assets as unstructured, or sometimes semi-structured, data. Therefore we often relate structured keywords in order to control the digital assets.

Digital assets should flow and should be controlled in the eco system of manufacturers, distributors, retailers and end users of the products. Here we have the same issues as with the structured product attributes. Giving the foreseeable steep increase in the volume, velocity and variety of the digital assets used as part of product MDM, we must drastically improve our capability in Sharing Product Master Data.

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