5 PIM Core Aspects

A Product Information Management (PIM) solution must encompass some core aspects of handling product data in a digitalized world where products are exchanged online in self-service scenarios. Here are five essential aspects:

Product Identification

PIM idUsually a product is identified uniquely within each organization using a number or a code that follows the product in all the applications that handles product data. But as products are exchanged between trading partners, an external product identifier is essential in many business processes.

The most common external identifier of a product is a GTIN (Global Trade Identification Number) which has those three most common formats:

  • 12-digit UPC – Universal Product Code, which is popular in North America
  • 13- digit EAN – European/International Article Number, which is popular in Europe
  • 14-digit GTIN, which is meant to replace among others the two above

We know these numbers from the barcodes on goods in physical shops.

It is worth noticing that a GTIN is applied to each packing level for a product model. So, if we for example have a given model of a magic wand, there could be three GTINs applied:

  • One for a single magic wand
  • One for a box of 25 magic wands
  • One for a pallet of 50 boxes of magic wands

Also, the GTIN is applied to a specific variant of a product model. So, if we have a given model of a pair of trousers, there will be a GTIN for each size and colour variant.

This level of product is also referred to as a SKU – Stock Keeping Unit.

Besides the GTIN (UPC/EAN) system there are plenty of industry and national number and code systems in play.

Product Classification

PIM classThere are many reasons for why you need to classify your range of products. Therefore, there are also many ways of doing so. You can either use an external classification system or your homegrown classification tailored to your organizations view of the world.

Here are five examples of an external standard:

  • UNSPSC (United Nations Standard Products and Services Code) is managed by GS1 US™ for the UN Development Programme (UNDP). This is an open, global, multi-sector standard for classification of products and services. This standard is often used in public tenders and at some marketplaces.
  • GPC (Global Product Classification) is created by GS1 as a separate standard classification within its network synchronization called the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN).
  • Harmonized System (HS) codes are commodity codes lately being worldwide harmonized to represent the key classifier in international trade. They determine customs duties, import and export rules and restrictions as well as documentation requirements. National statistical bureaus may require these codes from businesses doing foreign trade.
  • eCl@ss is a cross-industry product data standard for classification and description of products and services emphasizing on being a ISO/IEC compliant industry standard nationally and internationally. The classification guides the eCl@ss standard for product attributes (in eClass called properties) that are needed for a product with a given classification.
  • ETIM develops and manages a worldwide uniform classification for technical products. This classification guides the ETIM standard for product attributes (in ETIM called features) that are needed for a product with a given classification.

Within each organization you can have one – and often several – homegrown classification schemes that exist besides the external ones relevant in each organization. One example is how you arrange your range of products on a webshop similar to how you would arrange the goods in aisles in a physical shop.

Specific product attributes

PIM attributesWhen selling products in self-service scenarios a main challenge is that each classification of products needs a specific set of attributes (sometimes called properties and features) in order to provide the set of information needed to support a buying decision.

So, while some attributes are common for all products there will be a set of attributes needed to be populated to have data completeness for this product while these attributes are irrelevant for another product belonging to another classification.

External standards as eClass and ETIM includes a scheme that names and states the attributes needed for a product belonging to a certain classification and also the value lists that goes with it as for example which terms for colours that are valid and can be exchanged consistently between trading partners.

Related products

PIM relationA core challenge in self-service selling is that you have to mimic what a salesman does: If you enter a shop to buy an intended product, the salesman will like you to walk away with a better (and more expensive) choice along with some other products you would need to fulfil the intended purpose of use.

A common trick in a webshop is to present what other users also bought or looked at. That is the crowdsourcing approach. But it does not stop there. You must also present precisely what accessories that goes with a given product model. You must be able to present a replacement if the intended product is not available anymore (or temporarily out of stock). You can present up-sell options based on the features in question. You can present x-sell options based on the intended purpose of use.

Digital Assets

PIM assetWhen your prospective customer can’t see and feel a product online you must present product images of high quality that shows the product (and not a lot of other things too). It can be product images taken from a range of different angles. You can also provide video clips with the given product.

Besides that, there may be many other types of digital assets related to each product model. This can be installation guides, line drawings, certificates and more.

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.

The State of the PIM Market Going into the Twenty-Twenties

I had the pleasure of working with the folks at Dynamicweb PIM, one of the new innovative Product Information Management (PIM) solutions, on a white paper that examines the PIM market here on the doorstep to the 20s.

A key observation is that unlike the Master Data Management (MDM) market, smaller vendors in total have a significant share of what can be seen as the PIM market. Even the largest MDM / PIM vendors do not have a significant share of the PIM market as PIM solutions are used in many midsize companies, where the larger solutions do not have a relevant cost / benefit ratio.

There is no sign of massive consolidation on the PIM market. The largest vendors do not make many acquisitions that increase their market share, nor do they seem to grow organically more than the PIM market in total. Consequently, the PIM market is in no way dominated by a few large vendors as we see it on the CRM market, where Salesforce.com and Microsoft CRM have a predominant market share stretching into the midsize sector.

Therefore, organizations on the look for a PIM solution have a widening range of options to choose from where factors as the organization size, geographic reach, industry affiliation and current IT landscape are determining what is the objectively best choice of PIM solution.

You can download the state of PIM white paper here from the Dynamicweb site.

PIM 2020

Most Visited Posts in 2019

Another year has gone as this blog is well into the 11th year of being online.

The 3 most visited blog posts this year were:

AI iconData Matching, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence: A post from November 2018 about how AI and data matching has been combined for many years and how this theme has got a revival with the general rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Data ManagementA Data Management Mind Map: A post with not so much text but instead an image reflecting how some of most addressed data management disciplines can be mind-mapped.

Forrester vs GartnerForrester vs Gartner on MDM/PIM: A post about how the two most acknowledged analyst firms rate the vendors on the Master Data Management (MDM) / Product Information Management (PIM) market. Early next year we can expect a new MDM Magic Quadrant from Gartner, so let us see how things look then.

Looking forward to what the next year – and decade – brings in the data quality, MDM and PIM space and to write some posts about it.

Happy New Year.

The PIM Market as Seen by IDC

The are not so many reliable market reports dealing with the Product Information Management (PIM) market. So, it is interesting that a new one from an acknowledged source has arrived.

IDC has published their first PIM MarketSpace report. As stated in the report: “Historically, PIM has been closely associated with master data management (MDM) software, which provides a central source of truth for product data. However, MDM applications, as they were originally conceived, have some shortcomings when it comes to supporting today’s digital commerce requirements.”

When ranking the vendors, IDC reached this result:

IDC Marketscape PIM 2019 20

You can, against your personal data, get a partial report from Akeneo and Salsify.

PS: You can learn more about some of the other solutions on The Disruptive MDM /PIM /DQM List.

When Can We Expect the Next Major MDM/PIM/DQM Market Report?

When selecting a solution for Master Data Management (MDM), Product Information Management (PIM) and Data Quality Management (DQM) buyers and their advisers are using the market reports from the acknowledged analyst firms operating in these markets.

The latest such ones are:

The publication schedule from the analyst firms can be unpredictable.

Information Difference is an exception. There have during the years every year been a Data Quality landscape named Q1 and published shortly after that quarter and an MDM landscape named Q2 and published shortly after that quarter. However, these reports are relying on participation from relevant vendors and not all vendors prioritize this scheme.

Forrester is quite unpredictable both with timing and which market segments (MDM, PIM, DQM) to be covered.

Gartner is a bit steadier. However, for example the MDM solution reports have been coming in varying intervals during the latest years. Let us see when the next ones are published and what news they bring.

MDM PIM DQM Solutions

PS: You can check out many of the included solutions on The Disruptive MDM / PIM / DQM List.

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.

Are These Familiar Hierarchies in Your MDM / DQM / PIM Solution?

The term family is used in different contexts within Master Data Management (MDM), Data Quality Management (DQM) and Product Information Management (PIM) when working with hierarchy management and entity resolution.

Here are three frequent examples:

Consumer / citizen family

Family consumer citizenWhen handling party master data about consumers / citizens we can deal with the basic definition of a family, being a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit.

This is used when the business scenario does not only target each individual person but also a household with a shared economy. When identifying a household, a common parameter is that the persons live on the same postal address (at the same time) while observing constellations as:

  • Nuclear families consisting of a female and a male adult (and their children)
  • Rainbow families where the gender is not an issue
  • Extended families consisting of more than two generations
  • Persons who happen to live on the same postal address

There are multicultural aspects of these constellations including the different family name constructions around the world and the various frequency and acceptance of rainbow families as well of frequency of extended families.

Company family tree

When handling party master data about companies / organizations a valuable information is how the companies / organizations are related most commonly pictured as a company family tree with mothers and sisters. This can in theory be in infinite levels. The basic levels are:

  • A global ultimate mother being the company that ultimately owns (fully or partly) a range of companies in several countries.
  • A national ultimate mother being the company that owns (fully or partly) a range of companies in a given country.
  • A legal entity being the basic registered company within a country having some form of a business entity identifier.
  • A branch owned by a legal entity and operating from a given postal / visiting address.

Family companyYou can build your own company tree describing your customers, suppliers and other business partners. Alternatively or supplementary, you can rely on third party business directories. It is here worth noticing that a national source will only go to the ultimate national mother level while a global source can include the global ultimate mother and thus form larger families.

Having a company family view in your master data repository is a valuable information asset within credit risk, supply risk, discount opportunities, cross-selling and more.

Product family

The term “product family” is often used to define a level in a homegrown product classification / product grouping scheme. It is used to define a level that can have levels above and levels below with other terms as “product line”, “product category”, “product class”, “product group”, “product type” and more.

Family productSometimes it is also used as a term to define a product with a family of variants below, where variants are the same product produced and kept in stock in different colours, sizes and more.

Read more about Stock Keeping Units (SKUs), product variants, product identification and product classification in the post Five Product Information Management Core Aspects.

MDM, PIM, DAM and 7 More Data Management TLAs

What is CDI (in a data management context)? What does PDS stand for? And what about RDM?

Well, here is an under 2 minutes silent video going through what 10 common Three Letter Acronyms in the data management world is:

Read more about the Three Letter Acronyms in the post 10 Data Management TLAs You Should Know.

Learn more about some of the best solutions in this space on The Disruptive MDM / PIM / DQM List.

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)?