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.

Several Sources of Truth about MDM / PIM Solutions

The previous post on this blog was about Forrester vs Gartner on MDM/PIM. This post was about who is recognized as a major Master Data Management (MDM) / Product Information Management (PIM) solution vendor by the analyst firm Forrester versus who is recognized as a major MDM solution provider by the analyst firm Gartner.

MDM Truths

Now, let us have a look into how the individual solution providers are ranked in either the same way or differently by these major analyst firms spiced with my humble take on where this will be going. In the cause of brevity, I will focus on vendors positioned by Forrester as an MDM /PIM leader or strong performer or by Gartner as an MDM leader, visionary or challenger.

Informatica is an MDM leader both with Forrester and Gartner. When it comes to PIM Forrester has Informatica a little behind the leaders and back in the days when Gartner had specific customer MDM and product MDM quadrants, Informatica did better in customer MDM versus product MDM. Informatica has strengthened their grip on customer MDM with the recent AllSight acquisition. Will be interesting to see what moves Informatica will take to catching up on the product MDM / PIM battle ground and thus consolidating their multidomain MDM leadership.

Orchestra Networks who was recently acquired by Tibco is a leader in the eyes of Gartner but a bit less prominent positioned as a strong performer in the eyes of Forrester. The question asked on the market is if Tibco, against how earlier acquisitions turned out, will be able uphold Orchestra’s position as examined in the post Tibco, Orchestra and Netrics.

Reltio is a leader in the Forrester wave but still a niche player in the Gartner quadrant. This may say more about Forrester versus Gartner than about Reltio. Forrester seems to focus more on where the market is going while Gartner emphasizes on where the market has gone.

Riversand is a strong MDM and PIM performer at Forrester and a visionary in the Gartner quadrant. Perhaps Gartner sees a bit more on the vision side and Forrester a bit more on the offering side, but all in all the two analyst firms seems to be in agreement about Riversand. I think Riversand is on a good track.

SAP is a strong performer in the Forrester wave and a strong challenger according to Gartner. A lot of SAP ECC clients have and will choose the SAP MDG offering based on IT landscape simplification considerations. The Forrester PIM wave has SAP trailing the other solutions, which corresponds with my impression, which is that the SAP Hybris offering is struggling with really being a PIM solution.

Semarchy just made a high jump into the Gartner MDM quadrant challenger zone and according to Forrester they have the strongest MDM strategy possible. No doubt about that Semarchy is going in the fast track.

Profisee just moved up from niche player to challenger in the latest Gartner MDM quadrant. However, they were not included in the Forrester MDM wave. In my eyes, Profisee belongs among the major MDM solution providers.

Stibo Sytems is a challenger in the Gartner MDM quadrant. Forrester has Stibo Systems as a PIM leader but less prominent as an MDM contender. Stibo Systems has been on the same track as Riversand going from being a PIM vendor to become a multidomain MDM vendor. Perhaps because they are self-funded, versus Riversand being funded from outside, their tracks seem different.

IBM hangs on as a challenger in the Gartner MDM quadrant. Forrester only have IBM as a contender both for MDM and PIM. Nevertheless, large companies, not at least in the financial sector, will continue to rely on IBM also when it comes to MDM.

EnterWorks is a PIM leader and also an MDM leader according to Forrester. According to Gartner they are still a niche player in MDM. Recently EnterWorks joined forces with WinShuttle as told in the post The Recent Coupling on the MDM Market. It is not unlikely, that the Forrester view and the Gartner view will be aligned in the future.

Pitney Bowes is a strong performer in the latest Forrester wave sliding a bit from being a leader two years ago. They are not included in the Gartner quadrant. Pitney Bowes need to promote themselves as an MDM vendor and come up with new stuff to remain a major player on the MDM market.

Magnitude Software, who’s MDM solution was formerly known as Kalido, has moved up from contender to be a strong performer in the Forrester Wave. They are not included in the Gartner quadrant. Will be exciting to see if Magnitude Software can reignite the momentum Kalido had back in the first MDM years. Agility Multichannel is a part of Magnitude Software and a strong PIM performer at Forrester – and in my eyes too.

Contentserv is a PIM leader on the Forrester wave. Contentserv is also an MDM niche player on the Gartner quadrant. inRiver and Salsify are strong PIM performers on the Forrester wave but not big enough (and perhaps not MDM focussed enough) to be on the Gartner MDM quadrant.

PS: You can learn more about many of solutions mentioned here – and some more – on The Disruptive Master Data Management Solutions List.

Forrester vs Gartner on MDM/PIM

Both Forrester and Gartner have recently published reports with rankings of the vendors on the Master Data Management (MDM) and Product Information Management (PIM) market.

Below is an overview of who is in (and who is out) in these reports:

Forrester vs Gartner

Forrester MDM Wave 2019Forrester’s Master Data Management report (the Wave) came out this week as reported in the post Toward the Third Generation of MDM. This report focusses on MDM capabilities. The included vendors follow in some extent the same vendors recognized by Gartner with Profisee as a surprising omission. Instead Forrester has included Pitney Bowes, Backoffice Associates and Magnitude Software (the solution formerly known as Kalido).

2018-Forrester-PIM-WaveLast June Forrester published their Product Information Management Wave as told in the post There is no PIM quadrant, but there is a PIM wave. This report included some PIM vendors not included by Gartner. These were Agility Multichannel (part of Magnitude Software), inRiver and Salsify.

MDM MQ 2018The Gartner report (the Magic Quadrant) came out in December as mentioned in the post Movements in the Gartner MDM Magic Quadrant 2018. Gartner began some years ago only publishing a multidomain MDM view instead of their previous separate customer MDM and product MDM quadrants. Gartner has, opposite to Forrester, included Ataccama and Via Medici.

PS: If you want to know about some more interesting vendors on the MDM/PIM market, you can have a look at The Disruptive Master Data Management Solutions List.

The Disruptive Movement on the MDM/PIM Market

Back in December when the latest Gartner Magic MDM Quadrant came out a post here on the blog asked the question: Who Will Make the Next Disruption on the MDM Market? Since then a couple of things has taken place on the market as reported in post The Recent Coupling on the MDM Market.

As part of following the market and working with the Master Data Share concept (and firm) I manage a list of Master Data Management (MDM) and Product Information Management (PIM) solutions called The Disruptive Master Data Management Solutions List.

Some of the listed solutions here, Enterworks and AllSight, has been affected by the recent M&A activity on the market as Enterworks is being merged with WinShuttle and AllSight has become a part of Informatica.

Will be exciting to see if anything more will happen on the market in terms of disruptiveness. More M&As? More disruptive announcements from current players? New or hidden disruptive players?

Disruptive MDM M and A

Supply Chain Participants and PIM Requirements

A recent post on this blog was called B2C vs B2B in Product Information Management. This post was my take on the differences, if any, between doing Product Information Management (PIM) in a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) scenario versus in a Business-to-Business (B2B) scenario.

In a comment in the Product Information Management Professional Association group on LinkedIn Hans de Gier of SyncForce replied:

“For many of our B2B customers information plays a bigger role in the Market-to-Order process than for consumer products. But most of our customers (Consumer & Professional Packaged Goods Manufacturers) serve both retail and professional/wholesale channels, which have different information needs, even regarding the same products. So, any manufacturer targeted solution should be able to serve both channels with the right content via the right data channels. In our vision a more relevant question is: What is your take on the differences on doing PIM in Manufacturing versus Wholesale / Retail.”

Indeed, there are several ways to slice the PIM space and the supply chain position of a company as a supply chain delegate is for sure very relevant. Exchanging product information between trading partners in upstream and downstream (and midstream) positions must be very flexible and one size fits all thinking will not work.

The different positions of a company as they are in my mind is illustrated below:

supply chain

The possible combinations when exchanging product information between supply chain delegates are plentiful. To mention a few channels:

  • Manufacturer to wholesaler to retailer to end private consumer
  • Manufacturer to distributor to dealer to end business customer
  • Manufacturer to distributor to dealer to manufacturer as raw material
  • Manufacturer to merchant to marketplace to end customer
  • Manufacturer to marketplace to end customer
  • Manufacturer to/from brand owner to any midstream/downstream delegate

This variety is why the means of exchanging product information (product data syndication) between trading partners is essential in almost any PIM solution.

At Product Data Lake we offer the remedy to this challenge and in combination with any PIM solution or other application where in-house product information is managed.

Counting MDM Licenses

The Gartner Magic Quadrant for Master Data Management (MDM) Solutions 2018 was published last month.

Some of the numbers in the market that were revealed in the report was the number and distribution of MDM licenses from the included vendors. These covered their top-three master data domains and estimated license counts as well as the number of customers managing multiple domains:

mdm licenses

One should of course be aware of the data quality issues related to comparing these numbers, as they in some degree are estimates based on different perceptions at the included vendors. So, let me just highlight these observations:

  • The overall number of MDM licenses and unique MDM customers (at the included vendors) is not high. Under 10,000 organizations world-wide is running such a solution. The potential new market out there for the salesforce at the MDM vendors is huge.
  • If you find an existing MDM solution user organization, they probably have a solution from SAP or Informatica – or maybe IBM. To be complete, Oracle has been dropped from the MDM quadrant, they practically do not promote their MDM solutions anymore, but there are still existing solutions operating out there.
  • The reign of Customer MDM is over. Product MDM is selling and multidomain is becoming the norm. Several MDM vendors are making their way into the quadrant from a Product Information Management (PIM) base as reported in the post The Road from PIM to Multidomain MDM.

PS: If you, as an end customer organization or a MDM and PIM vendor, want to work with me on the consequences for MDM solutions, here are some Popular Offerings for you.

Governing Product Information

The title of this blog post is also the title of a presentation I will do at the 2019 Data Governance and Information Quality Conference in San Diego, US in June.

There is a little difference between how we can exercise data governance and information quality management when we are handling data about products versus handling the most common data domain being party data (customer, vendor/supplier, employee and other roles).

Multi-Domain MDM and Data Quality DimensionsThis topic was touched here on the blog in the post called Data Quality for the Product Domain vs the Party Domain.

The conference session will go through these topics:

  • Product master data vs. product information
  • How Master Data Management (MDM), Product Information Management (PIM) and Digital Asset Management (DAM) stick together
  • The roles of 1st party data, 2nd party data and 3rd party data in MDM, PIM and DAM
  • Business ecosystem wide product data management
  • Cross company data governance and information quality alignment

You can have a look at the full agenda for the DGIQ 2019 Conference here.

dgiq 2019

The relation between CX and MDM

The title of this blog post is also the title of a webinar I will be presenting on the 28th February 2019. The webinar is hosted by the visionary Multidomain MDM and PIM solution provider Riversand.

Customer experience (CX) and Master Data Management (MDM) must go hand in hand. Both themes involve multiple business units and digital environments within your enterprise and in the wider business ecosystem, where your enterprise operates. Master data is the glue that brings the data you hold about your customers together as well as the glue that combines the data you share about your product offering together.

To be successful within customer experience in the digital era you need classic master data outcomes as a 360-degree view of customers as well as complete and consistent product information. In other words, you need to maintain Golden Records in Multidomain MDM.

You also need to combine your customer data and your product data to get to the right level of personalization. Knowing about your customer, what he/she wants, and their buying behaviour is one side personalization. The other side is being able to match these data with relevant products that is described to a level that can provide reasonable logic against the behavioural data.

Furthermore, you need to be able to make sense of internal and external big data sources and relate those to your prospective and existing customers and the products they have an interest in. This quest stretches the boundaries of traditional MDM towards being a more generic data platform.

You can register to join the webinar here.

webinar data lake

Get Your Hands Dirty with Data

When working with data management – and not at least listening to and reading stuff about data management – there is in my experience too little work with the actual data going around out there.

I know this from my own work. Most often presentations, studies and other decision support in the data management realm is based on random anecdotes about the data rather than looking at the data. And don’t get me wrong. I know that data must be seen as information in context, that the processes around data is crucial, that the people working with data is key to achieving better data quality and much more cleverness not about the data as is.

data management wordsBut time and again I always realize that you get the best understanding about the data when getting your hands dirty with working with the data from various organizations. For me that have been when doing a deduplication of party master data, when calibrating a data matching engine for party master data against third party reference data, when grouping and linking product information held by trading partners, when relating other master data to location reference data and all these activities we do in order to raise data quality and get a grip on Master Data Management (MDM) and Product Information Management (PIM).

Well, perhaps it is just me and because I never liked real dirt and gardening.