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.