Ted Wichman recommends CoreShop Solutions

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Superior Communications is a B2B mobile accessories and service delivery that provides a complete range of mobile accessories and services to big communication companies across North America.

Read our Superior Communications Case Study here!

The Evolution of PIM

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Hi I’m Rob from Salsify. I’m here today to talk about the evolution of PIM systems. Going way back in the day, the first attempt to store and manage any data having to do with products was called Master Data Management. MDM.  And the goal of MDM systems was to aggregate all the information that your company might have across tons of different systems all into one place in a single golden copy; and the goal of MDM is really a reliability. It’s data we can trust. It’s data that you know is right and we’re talking about pricing. You’re talking about inventory. You’re talking about things like that.The reliability is absolutely the most important. 

Now, over time people wanted to store additional information in the MDM. They wanted to store descriptions and feature specifications and so additional capabilities were added to the MDM to store those information and that became PIM systems, Product Information Management and it’s effectively the same type of system with a few extra capabilities. Right? So, it’s data that we can trust about products. Get all the information in one place. Have one golden record that’s been approved and verified and that your whole company can agree on. Right? 

Now, with e-commerce, it wasn’t just enough to have a description of the product. You also needed to store images. So, we move on to Product Content Management which is a phrase that I believe Hybris coined about ten years ago. Product Content Management is effectively the same thing as PIM but with images. It’s data we can trust but also images and stuff and effectively reliability with flair. Right? Now all of these first three systems that we’re talking about here, these are all internally focused systems. Right? They’re about process management. They’re about workflows. They’re about reliability. They’re about systems integration. They are almost always owned and managed by IT organizations for that and therefore you have people like Gartner that have spent a lot of time evaluating those markets. These are mature markets. They’ve been around for a long time. Now, what we’ve seen with e-commerce in the last 10 years is that these technologies are actually insufficient for the way that the world operates today. There’s no such thing as one golden version of a product that’s actually true universally across retailers, across everywhere that the product is shown. Walmart for example has a completely different website than Amazon, which has a completely different website than Target, than Kroger, than Best Buy, than Home Depot, than Lowe’s. They’re merchandising and marketing their products in completely different ways and those ways change all the time and they’re not changing arbitrarily. They’re not changing for any bad reason. They’re changing actually for the reason that all of these retailers are trying to deliver a product experience that consumers demand on their sites that brings them back.

So, the next evolution of these technologies is what we’re calling Product eXperience Management. The goal of Product eXperience Management is not to create one internal version of a product that all of your systems can rely on. It’s to create a thousand optimized versions of the product for the consumers. Right? There’s a consumer that shops on Walmart that’s probably different than the consumer that shops on Amazon on a typical basis and those experience should be different. So, Product eXperience Management breaks from this tradition of reliability and instead of being an internally focused process management software, it’s an externally focused marketing software. Right? It’s typically owned by marketing or e-commerce organizations, sometimes sales organizations and they are built to deliver product experiences that consumers demand. 

Now, it means that there’s a lot of different features here that are distinct. You’re not trying to get one version of the product. You’re trying to get a bunch of optimized versions of the product. You’re not focused on an internal process management workflow to deliver something that’s been approved by legal. You’re instead trying to enable the Spanish team to create localized versions of the product content that are best for their consumers that are obviously going to be different that what you would say in North America. So, that’s the next phase of evolution here and I think it’s a very very distinct break from the way that the world has been operating. 

My prediction is that these in between stages of PIM and PCM completely go away. They’re no longer necessary. Right? The future is going to be Master Data Management for pricing, inventory, logistics, things that you absolutely need for internal systems reconciliation and Product eXperience Management for your consumers every single place that they shop for your products.

Video Credits to: Salsify, Inc.

Benefits of Digital Asset Management

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Marketing today is about getting as much content in front of as many eyeballs in as many ways as possible. Or is it about getting the right content in the right form to the right people at the right time? Whatever your school of thought, Digital Asset Management helps you do just that and more. CMO’s top priorities are marketing ROI, customer retention, brand loyalty, positioning and differentiation and customer satisfaction. 

That’s a lot of highly level mumbo-jumbo but honestly, how can we work toward any of these top marketing priorities without being able to effectively control, repurpose, and measure what is the lifeblood of our marketing, our digital media and brand assets. 

You see, DAM makes it possible to make sure your busy sales reps and marketing partners can easily get the latest and greatest assets so they can work harder and smarter for you. It allows you to centralize, organize and tag assets from agency A and agency B so you know exactly what you have and where it is. DAM allows you to make sure your channel partners can access assets intended for their markets and not those they don’t need anyway. 

When you need an asset for a print brochure, PowerPoint presentation, webpage and Facebook posts, you can make sure you get the asset repurposed and convert it to the right format for each medium automatically. No thinking, no blinking, just click and download. Meanwhile, you can prepare and collaborate on entire collections of assets for your next campaign securely in the same location. 

Need to know what’s working for you? Who’s using your stuff? Where? And how? That’s easy. All the intel you need is in DAM 

Video Credits to: digitalassetmanage

Pimcore Data Hub – Open-Source CaaS – Early Preview

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Welcome to Pimcore Data Hub. Transform and prepare data for input and output channels. Easily access and configure your Data Hub in the user-friendly Pimcore admin panel. In this experimental early preview example, we will use Data Hub in conjunction with Pimcore’s web content management features. We will provide headless content as a service to frontends such as Vue or React for access via GraphQl’s query language. In our example, we have blog articles and blog categories which are managed in a structured way by using Pimcore data objects. By accessing Data Hub config, we can configure the endpoints we would like to use such as an app or partner website. The configurations performed in a comfortable graphical user interface. Let’s select the schema fields which we want to include in our endpoint. We will use the class attributes “title”, “text” and “assigned categories” for this blog article. Pimcore formatters and transformers allow us to set up transformations and prepare the data. We will use the “date formatter” and assign it to the date assigned to the article. This will return us the “day of the week” instead of the “Date”. Pimcore Data Hub also includes a preview which enables us to test our newly created API endpoint. We’ll use it to request the blog article with a specific ID and display the title, day of week and categories. Let’s perform a first test. A clear error message shows that for this endpoint, the read permissions are not sufficient to retrieve the desired data. After quickly changing the setting we can successfully retrieve all data for the newly created Schema. Let’s go back and have another look at the great flexibility which Data Hub’s transform features provide. By using the substring transformation feature, we can for example trim the value of text fields. Let’s limit it to 30 characters. After running the query again, we receive a new string called “shortened-text”. This string only includes the limited amount of characters. Thank you for watching this short introduction to the Pimcore Data Hub. Soon the universal tool for getting data in and out of the Pimcore platform, whether industry standard, proprietary or legacy. Deployable anywhere – on premise, private and managed cloud services and of course, free and open-source! 

Video credits to: Pimcore

How Product Information Management (PIM) is Crucial for Your eCommerce Business

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The Omni CX Product Information Management makes gathering and managing product information easy for businesses. In today’s era, companies of all sizes are juggling to keep up with sales channels, social media, financing and so much more. The four fundamental principles for any PIM software helps you to sell more by giving customers a superior experience. Create and enriched product description, attributes and reviews, targeting customized content for different channels, distribute product data through dynamic feeds on demand, and centralize product data repository throughout the business. Consumer purchase behavior is driven by their experiences; if they enjoyed it, how easy it was to find a product, and if they can do more product research on your site. Consumers want a functional shopping experience that only CX gives them without standing navigation and search. The OmniCX e-commerce platform product management for your brands, categories and price lists along with crucial customization options. Click on one and you’ll see all the items attributed to that group. To view the PIM dashboard, click on the top left button. Here you will get an overview of you PIM system, the products on your front-end, promotions running on different products and an analysis of the different competing products. By clicking on the desired item, you will see all the details your site has on it. To add a product, click on the top right button then fill out the form with the appropriate information. Once you have completed the form, you will automatically be redirected to the product page for that item. You will notice areas which allow for further editing. This allows you to edit data that you already input as well as add other content, such as YouTube videos under search engine optimization name. After any edits made, make sure you submit, so you don’t lose all that hard work. To look at your product from a point of view of your consumers, copy the stock code and enter it in the search bar of the front-end of your website. It’s that simple. This process will be just as easy for the other groups as well. So, if you’re a business that didn’t think they needed PIM but would like to know more, visit us today at www.omnicx.com and arrange your free consultation. OmniCX for growing businesses.

Video Credits to: OmniCX Digital Limited

Improve Customer Experience with a B2B Product Information Management (PIM) Solution and eCommerce

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Knowing that we have some marketers on the call today who have responsibility for managing the launch and promotion of products… the question that we have here is you know, what would you say to them about the impact of a strong PIM commerce solution? Johan, let’s start with you on this one. Now we look at the customers’ results, content really really is one of the big differences because we see a dramatic improvement in online catalogs but we shouldn’t forget that we can also see a dramatic improvement in printed catalogs, in spare parts list, price lists and a lot more other different channels. They’d also gain shorter time to market and better customer service both online and offline. So, it also makes it easier to enter new markets and new market segments and today, in the only channel world they gain consistency across channels because they reuse and repurpose the content across all the sales channels and of course all this leads to increased revenue because better information sells more products and faster. And last but actually not least, the customer loyalty improves because of all the services and a better content that they can provide. Okay so while I’ve got you on a roll, what about the quality and integrity of Product data that a combined solution that you’re describing would bring? 

Yes David, you know it’s one of my favorite subjects. You know all these siloed systems and the compartmentalized organizations, they create something that we call content spaghetti syndrome and it’s mainly driven by Excel spreadsheets that go back and forth through email and content spaghetti really drives a lot of unnecessary costs and it leads to a long time to market. It leads to lack of consistency across channels and not to mention the frustration it causes. So, our combined solution gets rid of the content spaghetti and lowers the costs, shorten the times to market and of course relieves some of the frustration that comes from working in an uncontrolled process like this. Got it okay. So perhaps you can explain then how that marriage happens between PIM and e-commerce solution? Well, you can say that the PIM acts as a hub between the ERP systems, the PLM systems, the suppliers and other sources and it connects them with the e-commerce solution, with the CMS, with the printed catalogs, the distributors and other channels. So, in short, you can say that it bridges the gap between back-end sources and sales and market channels. And in the omnichannel world, e-commerce is one channel, a very important one but it’s one out of many and InRiver can also be used to produce printed materials and support the traditional marketing and sales channel. So, InRiver gives support for producing and managing product related images, attributes and texts and so forth localized for each market and ready to be published both online and offline. And the process starts with supply where we gather the basic data and then it goes on to enrich where all the missing information is added, on to plan and release where we create the assortments and the promotions, and the campaigns for all channels and then over to publish where we hand over the baton to Insite and I think Brian can talk more about what will happen then when we have hand over the baton to Insite commerce.Yeah thanks Johan and this is where the persona development is so important because we’re defining the people that will consume the content and the reason I like this image is because it doesn’t just talk about one type of user. Doesn’t just talk about a B2C user. We have this tendency to focus the word e-commerce on the consumer and if you think about it, in B2B, there’s so many different consumers of content. Right? You’ve got distributors that may need to leverage the content for their own websites and this is where InRiver is such a powerful solution and it can provide for that. You’ve got a marketing department that needs to consume your contents for print publications and perhaps for other types of promotions and then you’ve got the e-commerce site which is shown on the right-hand side here and obviously the users that need to buy from you whether that’s a consumer or a specific type of B2B buyer. An engineer for example, they’re all looking for specific data, a great search, they want it to be merchandised properly and I can go down the line and it’s all of these features that are expected. They aren’t nice to have. Today, they’re a must-have when it comes to the online experience. So, this is again a great way to demonstrate how on the left-hand side, the PIM can prepare that data and on the right-hand side, it flows seamlessly into an e-commerce experience. One thing that is important to address is how a combined solution like this can complement existing or legacy systems that manufacturers may already have in place and you know in minimizing the impact on doing so. Brian maybe you can speak a little bit to that. 

This is a great slide David. You know it really shows the complexity but more important it shows where we’ve been. You know very often I’ll talk with a marketing executive or an IT leader who says you know over the years we’ve had to build these different types of sites custom and we’ve had to integrate them to all of our back-office systems. Well, I call it the problem with too many apps. We seem to have become so, you know, kind of app aggressive that we’ve created apps for everything not realizing that our users really want a single integrated approach and you know that becomes the real challenge. So, if we go to the next slide, I would argue that there is a new way of doing things and certainly in the past, out of necessity, because there weren’t great solutions that could help us consolidate all of our content and consolidate all of our commerce functionality. We had to go off and buy separate solutions but you know I would argue that an organization needs to create a roadmap or work with your digital consulting firm to create a roadmap but across the top, we’ve got, what are the different sites and what are the different personas that your organization needs? And let’s think about each one of them in exactly how they need to do their job better and then you’ve got the different data tiers right? You’ve got the marketing tier with you know what content management and email. You’ve got the core system’s tier which includes the PIM in all of that content that InRiver can help us consolidate and manage but also the ERP, the CRM and in the middle, you’ve got all of this commerce functionality that needs to eventually manifest itself on this websites and instead of building a custom, I would encourage you to think about a roadmap that really outlines how this data will flow from the bottom, up, to these different types of users. So, Brian let me ask you. How do you get started with this type of implementation? The first step is always a plan and it’s important to ensure that you don’t jump too quickly because I think organizations have a tendency to, you know realize that they’re behind and then they run off and start buying software and I know it might be strange for a software company to suggest that you don’t run off and buy software but what I find is that oftentimes organizations make the wrong choice and that can set them back months or even years. So, our recommendation is that you first layout that plan. In my last slide I mentioned the roadmap and I think that’s important. I think you need to create a roadmap that specifies the projects but not with an end date. More with the versioning approach that says, all right what do we need for our dealers in version or phase one? What do we need for our consumers? What do we need for the sales team? Once you have the plan and it gets important to secure the team. Most manufacturers and distributors B2B companies do not have a strong digital team. They have to build one and, in many cases, it isn’t realistic that you’re going to hire all of the people you see here below, you know as a full-time resources. And so that’s where relationships with organizations like Perficient can be very valuable because they can supplement with these sort of digital leaders on an as-needed basis. Once that team is in place, you know that’s when it’s time to start creating the solution and that’s going to be a combination of you know the software that’s needed, the design that’s going to be used for the interfaces and the integrations and then finally deploy and again as I said deploying, we never consider this done. This really should be a circle because you’re going to get feedback from your users and you’re going to want to continue to iterate or revise these sites until they truly satisfy the users.

Video Credits to: Perficient, Inc.

The Five Core Functional Areas of MDM

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I can tell you what MDM is. One of the things that I find humorous in the technology world is whenever there’s a new term, everybody wants to repurpose, fold, spindle, and mutilate it to suit their needs. Master Data Management is a concept has been around many many years. In fact, probably more than 20 in some instances. So, the concept of Master Data Management is not new. I think the big difference of what’s occurred in the last few years is how have we taken technology and package and simplify being able to deliver or implement Master Data Management. Mastery to management is really about five core functions; content, relationship or grouping, access and security, something called change management and processing and I’ll quickly go through them just to make sure that we differentiated those five different functions. And the thing with Master Data Management, it’s not that you need all of these functions and all of these details, it’s really about understanding what are the pieces and parts that I require. You can almost think about Master Data Management the way you think about buying a car. Yeah, I want to go buy a pickup because I got to move stuff but think about all the options and auxiliary capabilities that a car could have if you choose to buy all those options. Do I need a stereo? Don’t want the leather gripped steering wheel. Do I want the great seats? So, I want the inexpensive seats. Do I want the back-end loader? Do I want a mesh or a steel tailgate? There’s lots of options and choices. The real important aspect is, let’s understand what the options are. I match them up with my requirements so I’m not over investing, over complicating things. So, getting back to those five functions real quickly.

The Premise of MDM with Content

Content, the premise of Master Data Management with content if I’m making about a subject area, customer, or product, or location or one of many others is, what is the information that represents that subject? So, with a customer, it’s inevitably first name and last name, maybe their mailing address, maybe their home address and it’s making sure that when I use those terms; first name, last name, mailing address, that we understand what those mean and in fact that we represent those values consistently. Am I using state codes? Am I using state abbreviations? Is it a five-digit postal code or a nine-digit postal code? Those are the first aspects that Master Data Management brings to the table and ensures that the data’s understood and consistently represented.

MDM Relationship or Groupings

Second piece we called, relationship and or hierarchies and groupings. It’s about how these different pieces and parts or entities are related to one another. Now, in the consumer world, when we are talking about people, well, how are people related? Because very often if I’m marketing, selling or even communicating, I don’t really communicate with one person at a time, I may communicate with the group. So, I want to understand, is there some method or mechanism that I can simplify keeping track of all these groups? The most common one is household for a consumer who’s everybody that lives under the same roof. Well, there are rules and details to describe that.  I can’t just say everybody lives under the same roof because what happens if it’s a 10-unit apartment complex? What happens if it’s a 10-unit condominium? What happens by and large if someone’s a heavy commuter and they have two or three different addresses? So, it’s very very important to establish where the crisp well-defined rules that allow us to understand who is this group? The other aspect maybe, I want to differentiate or establish who this group of customers are that are valuable to me? Maybe it’s high income. Maybe it’s related. Maybe it’s a particular location. What you often find within companies is everybody has their own way of labeling a group of customers but it’s not managed across different organizations. So, in fact, what happens is the finance group says, here’s my valuable group of customers. Why? Well because they pay their bill on time. Another group, maybe marketing says, I love these customers because they always respond to my marketing campaign so those are my high-value customer. Sales says, you know something it’s the people that buy stuff from me. Well, three different groups, they all use the term high-value customers. Why do we want to use Master Data Management? It’s not to prevent individuals from grouping things together. It’s making sure there’s no confusion that when I say, high-value customers, I’ve actually got a way that’s it’s communicated across all the different organizations and all the different systems. I mean someone might say, you know something I’ve got my great reporting tool or I’ve got this great database. Well that’s fine and dandy for everybody that uses that tool or that database but what happens if it’s another organization that’s five time zone’s away that’s using an entirely different system? The premise of Master Data Management in the same instance I categorize and identify how to identify Evan. I also agree here’s how we identify high-value customers or other types of groups.

MDM Security and Access

Third area is access and I call security and access. It’s understanding who’s allowed to take a look and change this data. We actually have a client that says you know something, creating the list, the list of customers, that’s easy but what happens if something changes? Someone moves? A couple has a new child and lo and behold their household has now changed? Company comes out with new products and they have the new model years. Who’s allowed to actually update details? And in fact, if something’s just inaccurate, how do you determine who’s allowed to make that change? Now clearly there’s the concept data governance that goes through the rules and processes of determining the change itself. In other words, wait we’ve got a new model year we know that once October first comes, let’s come out and publish those values, but at the end of the day, who’s actually allowed to input the values themselves? What are those details and rules? That’s what the whole premise of access or the security is and we actually look at it four pieces. Who’s allowed to create it? Who’s allowed to look at it? Who’s allowed to update it and then finally delete it. And most people will never think about the read idea but think about what happened a few years ago, probably almost 10 now where they said you know something you’re not allowed to store or distribute social security number for individuals anymore. That was very very complicated for a lot of companies to implement because they didn’t have Master Data Management in place and Master Data Management would have allowed them to quickly understand, where is it stored? Who has access to it? And are we actually securing it correctly?

MDM Data Quality and Monitoring – Change Management

Fourth area is called change management. Now where we talked about the security being able to understand who changed it, the whole premise of change management is communicating to everybody the values or the details have changed. One thing that the phone company does a phenomenally good job at is when you change your phone number and someone dials your old phone number, you get the phone call. It’s really not a big deal. You don’t worry about that. US postal service has a great change of address process and people sometimes say, oh they joke about it but by and large it works. If you move, you fill out the card. Do you go online? Your mail always finds you. I know with me if I move the bill collectors always find me but different story. In any event, so that’s really what we’re talking about and the concept is data change management. What MDM can bring to the table is when content changes, the right individuals are able to know about it. The system actually keeps track of those changes and communicates it.

Match and Identification – MDM Processing

Finally, processing is esoteric or academic as processing sounds, the idea is if we’re trying to compare or identify two names with two addresses and determine, is this the same person? It’s understanding what equal or like really means. My name is Evan Levy, it could be represented as Evan J Levy, E J Levy, several different variations. Now in a computer world, an equal means exact. Reality is no. There could be lots of different representations of things or you walk into a hardware store and say, listen, I need a six-inch lag bolt. I want 10 threads an inch. I want it to be a quarter inch in diameter. That’s a very simple way of describing it but what if you don’t have all that detail? Well, do you want it in brass? Could it be in steel? Do you have to worry about rust? So, the whole idea of understanding, are these two things that are actually alike? So once again, there’s five core functional areas; content, grouping, security and access, change management and processing.

Video Credits to: Data Management System

How Digital Asset Management Maximizes Content Value

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So, Digital Asset Management today is becoming more and more important in organizations. And the reason for that is if you look at what’s happening out there in the market and what people are doing, the development and the volume of content that most organizations are delivering is growing exponentially.

Globally it’s said to be doubling every two years. So, what that means is if I have to develop lots and lots of content and my budget doesn’t go up, my resources don’t go up, I’ve got to do it all with the same and I’ve got all the different channels coming in.

You know, average people tend to work across 23 different channels, I now have to take the content I develop and get maximum value out of that particular content.So, how do I manage it so that it’s relevant for all different channels that I might work in?

How do I make sure that actually as a life cycle content through different campaigns and through different activities we want to do, we don’t lose stuff, we don’t have to go back and get stuff re-shot or rebuy stock imagery or whatever it is?

Actually, we’ve got an asset repository, a Digital Asset Management system where we can go and quickly find the assets and the information we need. And we can life cycle it in there so we get the biggest bang for our buck with each asset as it’s developed. 

What a DAM System Can Do for Your Organization

So, a Digital Asset Management system, what it really does for an organization is allow anyone within that organization, be it within marketing or be it within other areas of the business, to come in and very very quickly find the information in the assets and the information they need.

Whether that’s just to send to someone, whether to be used on a website or any e-commerce platform, what customers want is consistency. They want brand consistency.

They want to be able to easily recognize something they see in store as a same thing they saw on the website, the same thing that they saw on the advert. Traditionally that’s quite difficult for marketers to keep-up with different renditions, different versions needed for all these different channels and things like that.

So, having a DAM that can do things like automatically rendition stuff between different channels so they’re very very simple, very useable, is really key.

Being able to take that content that a lot of money has been spent to develop, and maximize value of that content, lifecycle that content and then, when that content is no longer relevant and needs to be pulled, being able to  simply and easily see where it’s been used, where it’s still live, where we need to pull that away from, you put marketers in control.

You put them in control of the assets they’ve spent so much time, effort and money developing and they can see you know what’s been used, what’s been effective and they can manage and control that and that for me is what DAM is all about. How do we drive the most value out of the content we develop and DAM enables that. So strong DAM really does give organizations that ability

Video credits to:Which-50 Media