IF the competition for customer satisfaction and a shorter time-to-market, digitized management systems for product data, becoming increasingly important. The prerequisite is optimized and well-structured primary data. For manufacturers of complex products, data optimization and the introduction of a PIM system are particularly worthwhile to make it easier for customers to choose.
Automated production lines, tight processes, and precise timing were part of the daily routine in many companies‘ production when the management of the associated product data was still characterized by distributed storage, redundancies, and high expenditure of time. But the realization is gaining ground that data and information are valuable assets that also contribute to a company’s unique selling point. This is all the more true when it comes to complex products. And also includes knowledge of how the individual components can be combined to form a suitable and functional product solution.
Centrally Manage Product Data In PIM Platforms
Companies are therefore looking for suitable software solutions for product data management to make the best possible use of their valuable data resources. The demands for the introduction of such systems often come from the sales and marketing departments. The main focus is on solutions that combine product information management with master data management and digital asset management.
“The principle: All the necessary data from all relevant areas – product master data, product descriptions, images, videos, texts, and much more – are centrally summarized and linked,”. The IT service provider supports B2B providers of complex products by introducing PIM systems, mainly based on the Pecora platform. “Data maintenance and access authorizations are controlled via an integrated authorization management system. The corresponding workflows and versioning can also be set.” As all applications access this central data source (as a single point of truth), it is ensured that the current version of the data is always available across all channels.
Quality Leap Through Efficient Processes And Consistent Data
By using such a digitized data management system, not only can processes be accelerated and costs reduced, but significant qualitative improvements can also be achieved.
Comparable improvements: “The enrichment of data and optimized data structures also increases the data quality. With definable default settings for data entry and maintenance and integrated testing and approval processes, this quality can also be guaranteed in the long term. “
PIM System Should Be Customizable
To introduce a new PIM system to be a success, some work has to be invested in data preparation beforehand. However, a suitable software solution must first be selected based on the catalog of requirements. In addition to the essential functions described, a decisive criterion is compatibility: Do interfaces support existing systems? Other criteria are more specific. For example, multilingualism plays a role for international providers. For other manufacturers, on the other hand, bulk processing is essential.
Flexibility and scalability as relevant criteria: “Experience has shown that the working methods and processes of individual companies differ greatly, even within an industry. The software should therefore adapt to the company and not the other way around.” In general, a step-by-step approach is recommended: First, the essential applications should be connected. Different systems can then be successively connected, such as a new webs hop or other country sites.
Enrich And Optimize Product Data
Investments in-licenses or software purchases are not mandatory; open-source platforms now cover a wide range of services. For medium-sized companies whose own IT department is heavily used, it can make sense to carry out initial inventories with external partners – because they often bring surprises: The consideration starts at the starting point, with the master data. This product master data is usually imported from the respective ERP or merchandise management system. From a technical point of view, they are mostly correct and complete. “However, one should go further and, for example, ask about the compatibility of the products with one another,”.
The answer is not complicated for experienced employees, and they may recognize variants and suitable components based on the product number. The situation is very different for outsiders, for example, for B2B customers who you want to reach with a new webshop or a digitized procurement solution. How do those responsible for purchasing know whether and how individual components of the supplier fit together? “Companies quickly recognize that there is still a need for action concerning the logic within the product data. Mapping the relationships between the individual product components in terms of IT technology is, therefore, the challenge that needs to be addressed,”.
Further optimizations concern the structuring of the data. For example, it is more efficient to create specific product characteristics, such as the color, as a data object instead of manually assigning them to numerous articles individually. This has the advantage that other data such as the color code and images can also be stored. Changes, for example, in the designation or the stored color code, can then be automatically transferred to all articles that use this color.
Product Data: User-Friendly Configurators Make Work Easier
As a result of the data optimization and enrichment, consistent and high-quality data are available for display in all channels. For the presentation and selection of multi-component solutions and product variants, this also gives rise to additional options: “By including the relationship between the data, you also create the basis for developing a tailor-made configuration solution. Clear, user-friendly configuration tools ultimately represent a feature that many providers of complex products want for their customers. Especially if you want to go in the direction of direct sales,”.
To meet buyers’ expectations in the B2B environment, combined expertise from sales and customer experience is required. Sales managers can best assess the level of Experience and expectations of the buyers on the customer side. When deciding how the selection menu should be designed – instead of as a multi-page form or in a view with checkboxes – external consultants with project experience can help. Most companies think of customer applications ad hoc for product configuration tools, but their employees also have a second target group. Configurations can also make it much easier for them to prepare offers by configuring faster and calculating faster.
Augmented Reality – An Outlook
The demands on PIM systems grow with the new trends in communication and product presentation. Not only 3-D environments but increasingly also augmented reality applications play a role. Bytom recently stated in the guideline “Augmented and Virtual Reality: Potentials and Practical Application of Immersive Technologies” that the hype about augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is over, but that these applications have now become Reality. There are also exciting possibilities for presenting and three-dimensional configuration of more complex or customer-specific product solutions in the B2B sector.