Product Information Management (PIM) and Master Data Management (MDM) have been showing up in the tech stacks for many companies that have been cited as fast-growing and progressive. Embracing PIM/MDM is an essential tool in breaking down the organizational barriers to enable effective Digital Asset Management (DAM). The use of PIM/MDM by a company represents a deep understanding of the value of ensuring that the entire company has adopted an enterprise approach to making sure all departments of the company are using the latest versions and releases of branding content and digital assets. That data strategy is vital to delivering the persuasive and personalized content critical to turning our most loyal customers into brand ambassadors.
The Convergence of the B2B and B2C Marketing Models
The online buying experience is changing, or should I say digitally disrupted. It used to be that we worried about whether we marketed to other businesses (B2B) or marketed directly to the customer (B2C). Well, as digital, social, and cloud technologies keep advancing and converging, the consumer is starting to demand more from the businesses that sell to businesses because the consumer knows more. Knowledge is power my friends, and we keep handing that knowledge to the consumer who is contributing to the rise of a new business model of Business to Business to Consumer (B2B2C). So, beyond the latest buzzword or acronym or however you want to characterize B2B2C, what have we done? Techopedia says this:
“Business to Business to Consumer (B2B2C) is an e-commerce model that combines Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) for a complete product or service transaction. B2B2C is a collaboration process that, in theory, creates mutually beneficial service and product delivery channels.”
I’ve underlined the operative phrase. It’s the meeting of the minds, or convergence of two theoretical concepts which hope to deliver something beneficial to the customer. In other words, the B2B handoff process to B2C needs to be less expensive, faster, smoother, and better integrated so that we keep the customer happy and well-informed. It’s a “rise of the machines” mentality, to borrow a phrase. However, we digress. Let’s get back to what PIM/MDM mean to B2B2C.
PIM/MDM and B2B2C
We’ve established, at least theoretically, that the combined B2B2C business model has come into being because of technological improvements such as PIM/MDM that add value to the customer journey. There are other factors beyond PIM/MDM that contribute because as we all know, the whole customer engagement thing is a system of actions that make it all work. Like having the right funding in place and the leadership at the C level to champion a suite of marketing technology that works well together. PIM/MDM is a hot commodity and promises to remain relevant because of the need to feed the marketing machine in a coordinated cross-channel/multi-channel manner.
PIM/MDM allows the marketer to differentiate the customer experience at every step of the journey. All that metadata, tags, and keywords we assign to every image, piece of content, and corporate branding image/logo makes sure we can route the right piece of personalized information to individual customers. What makes B2B2C unique with an identity all its own, is the fundamental changes we make to the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) that starts this entire customer satisfaction ball rolling. These digital disruptions are only going to speed up the cycle of the digital manufacturing business.
Transforming B2B and B2C into B2B2C
Right now, the B2B community and the B2C community are two separate entities. They each have a stack of manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, dealers, industry associations, and regulatory institutions that cater to their specific business models. That has to change again and keep changing until technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence reach their full potential. Theoretically, that will never happen, so strap in. It’s going to be a wild ride over the next 100 years.
For PIM/MDM, the need will be for maintaining the momentum of change needed to keep up with all the collaboration and partnerships that will eventually form (keep that convergence theory in perspective) to make this all work. For any business, your competitive life in the marketplace will determine whether you stay in business or fall by the wayside.
What does that momentum look like in real terms? Let’s say you specialize in B2B Product Experience Management and Product Information Management as a company. As this new B2B2C business model matures, you will become obsolete unless you join forces with a company that has B2C skills such as product categorization and content solutions that are capable of reaching the customer directly. You will encounter companies that want to collaborate and create partnerships, but they will all have proprietary systems of one sort or another. You will have to integrate with them to ensure the customers have a user-friendly B2C experience. That’s no small feat of magic. It will take time and investment as well as the careful selection of whom you partner with. You will want to build a set of strategic partnerships and collaborations that will provide your customers with a way to search, navigate, and find your products on the ever-increasing complexity of the search engines. Social media will play an ever-increasing role in competition with the Googles and Bings of the world. The global marketplace will become a quagmire where many will get lost.
Industry 4.0, IoT, AI and Quantum Technology
When these initiatives started, it was all about staying competitive by reducing costs, speeding up innovation, and automating how we did things. It was a well-intentioned objective. However, as we hurtle forward, the change is coming so fast that people can’t fully conceive of what’s around the next corner. The momentum is not slowing down. It’s speeding up, and the unintended consequences are not insignificant. The retail apocalypse is happening now, and much of the new technology has yet to manifest itself fully. When will the day come when they don’t have a mall to go to to buy clothes. Will they be satisfied? There are some amazing sociological issues that haven’t even been considered. Will businesses and industry be able to absorb the changes that need to be made? It is yet to be seen.
We must create a business environment where PIM/MDM and all the other marketing technology is doing what the customer needs and wants. The technology we build must serve the higher purpose and the individualistic needs of small businesses that serve the communities in which people live. PIM/MDM are pointed in that direction. We need to think through how we bring all that into balance and build an environment that supports everyone.