Master Data Management (MDM) teams require special skills, patience, and an ability to tie together many different disciplines. The art and science of streamlining an organization’s data assets - in particular their products’ physical and technical attributes - is crucial for leverage both down and upstream. Data quality is simply an ongoing unglamourous prerequisite that yields efficiencies and customer confidence. It’s absolutely vital for transactional and informative information throughout an organization and online.
Why should we invest?
It can be incredibly challenging to get priority and funding for a behind-the-scenes data project. Intuitively and empirically, business leaders know when they have data problems but that doesn’t always translate to budget.
Here’s the reality – there are tools and expertise out there that can help. And, all those other digitalinvestments and roadmap items you’re making aren’t being maximized if you don’t have the data to support them. Sure, you can edit out some issues in a PDF or jury-rig a spreadsheet before it gets published (or, gasp, after), but your digital strategy simply won’t work with bad or subpar data. Customers expect and demand product content to help them make decisions and choose your product. You have one shot to knock the socks off your customer with your digital experience, so once they spot or suspect an error, they don’t trust any of the content on your site. You worked so hard to get your customer to your site and now they arelikely headed elsewhere.
So how do we prevent that?
First order of business: find the right Product Information Management (PIM) tool for you. The features and functionality of an off-the-shelf PIM far outweigh slogging through your current solution to make incremental improvements. There are so many options today – maybe there’s a great one that’s part of your ERP suite but more likely, the SaaS options available today are best in class for usability, features and functionality. In fact, for some the free version of a SaaS PIM solution, such as Akeneo, will often meet the business need. Depending on the size and scope of your product, you may need to invest in a premium version or enterprise level solution such as PIMCore, Informatica Product 360 or SAP Hybris. Regardless, these platforms are easy to set up, have great UX/UI, excellent reporting, not to mention out of the box APIs and interfaces. Yes, there is up front setup investment, but you will soon have wings and options.
Next, the process. The lift is often too heavy to go it alone, but no one knows your data as well as you do. A great model is to leverage experienced offshore talent in an iterative process to clean up what exists today or simply start with a clean slate. There are likely multiple disparate sources of info which can populate your PIM and be flagged for different uses. For example, eCommerce gets only special fields which may have additional normalization, but everything lives in the PIM. Your SMEs must be a structured part of the process – they are the experts vital to the process. They can set direction, do quality checks along the way and ultimately approve and release the information. You’ll just need great project management and an empowered decision maker to tie-break any conflicts, so that things stay on track.
But you’re not done yet. Your data is a living breathing organism. New products come along, new regulations come along, and sometimes products are obsoleted. Once you’ve made the investment in time and resources to create your master data, you must maintain it. Rules can easily be established to trigger work flows to accomplish every scenario – and by continuing to use your established offshore partner, you are leveraging your investment in their knowledge of your product and ensuring that your data will stay clean and up to date.
So, what ROI can we expect from masterful data?
Once your data container, hopefully a PIM (Product Information Management), is established and populated with clean data, you can power your systems and tools with great information. You can also begin to leverage all the opportunities ahead. First, PIMs can and should connect to almost all your adjacent systems – in addition to your CMS, your ERP, DAM and maybe even your CRM. You can also syndicate your data – API connections are easier than ever to utilize to broadcast your information wherever you see fit. This data can also drive new marketing programs and engineering tools. You will use it to inform and power search – site search and parametric/faceted search for eCommerce and/or product findability. Customers will then be able to better find and understand your products. You can also share your data as needed with your partners – think distributors, maybe even marketplaces. Content-rich product pages also drive SEO. The benefits will delight your customers and your teams.
Videos, social? Not us, you think, but more and more, B2C expectations will move to B2B. So, maybe these are not for you now, but the data container, content, and connections will be there when you are ready.
Big Zeta Can Help
Big Zeta has experience with all aspects of data management. From creating new data templates to normalizing existing data to selecting and populating a new PIM, Big Zeta has cost-effective solutions and teams in place to help you meet your goals. Contact us today.