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Also posted on: The IM Blog
There are essentially two different types of PIM (product information management). One is targeted at manufacturing and the other at marketing. Of course there is overlap, but the products that target on-line or printed catalogues tend to have a focus on that aspect of product management while manufacturing-style PIM has a rather different focus. It is unfortunate, therefore, that both product types have the same label. Moreover, based on recent discussions with Informatica it appears that the two are moving further apart rather than the reverse.
Specifically with respect to Informatica, the company has just released version 7.1 of Informatica PIM, which used to be the Heiler product, before being acquired by Informatica. This is very much in the marketing camp for PIM (along with Riversand and Stibo) with what the company calls omni-channel marketing support.
The most interesting new features, at least for me, are that Informatica PIM has been integrated with Informatica BPM (business process management), that the product now has a GDSN (global data synchronisation network) connector for B2B environments, and that it is been certified to run with IBM WebSphere Commerce.
Taken individually, each of these capabilities might be no more than interesting but collectively, especially when combined with future Informatica plans that I can’t disclose, it is clear that Informatica PIM is becoming much more than what I, at least, have historically thought of as PIM. Perhaps that is my misapprehension—I have always thought of PIM as MDM (master data management) for products and, as such, it was about ensuring the consistency and accuracy of product data: providing a 360o view of product information. And, yes, features like omni-channel marketing took PIM beyond pure MDM but I have always tended to think of this as merely an extension to core MDM capabilities.
However, once you start talking about BPM integration and B2B exchange I think you’re stretching that extension to breaking point. What I am hearing from Informatica is that there are actually a lot more things that you can do with product data than might be obvious at first glance. It’s rather as if CRM (customer relationship management) had not been invented and someone took CDI (customer data integration) and extended that into CRM.
There’s a second aspect to this. PIM is typically a technical sale. Even if it is part of a data governance solution it is typically IT-focused. However, when you starting talking about PIM in the context of real-time commerce or B2B exchange it becomes much more business focused. Indeed, this is precisely what Informatica has found. As a result, it is talking much more to business executives than it has in the past and this has implications beyond PIM itself but for Informatica more generally. Because the truth is that however good Informatica has traditionally been at selling to IT, it has not been very good at the business level. However, it is not difficult to see success at the PIM level rubbing off on other parts of Informatica and substantially improving its business level success.
Anyway, that is by the by. I really think that we need to start differentiating between the sort of PIM product that Airbus or Boeing might use and the PIM product that Dabs.com might use. While I am not usually a fan of marketing, surely someone can come up with an alternative for one or other of these PIMs.