Product Data Quality: Health, Safety, and Security

Why Indominus rex could so easily escape from the cage? It had happened because the dinosaur was genetically created both to entertain kids at Jurassic World Park and to be a perfect weapon: the genetic engineers have more than delivered. The security engineers did not know that it could control body temperature. Temperature sensors were used to track a dinosaur inside the cage. Indominus was smart to become invisible for sensor and escape.

An incident became possible because Indominus features and parameters, such as IQ level, speed, ability to control body temperature, and ability to change skin color were initially unknown to the Jurassic World administration and security engineers.

Continue reading “Product Data Quality: Health, Safety, and Security”

PIM for global sourcing: features and functions

Is it possible to share the same product repository and classifier both for buyers and for sellers from different countries and different industries? What features should Product Information Management (PIM) systems have to do so?

Today there are only a few good examples: GS1 and IceCat in FMCG. Some experts could mention UN SPSC, which was initially developed for statistical needs. However, its application in procurement is doubtful.

Clearly, firms have unique requirements to their classifier structures and to the product information. Information that is necessary for one company might be redundant for another. Both abundance of unnecessary details and lack of vital information might reduce process effectiveness. Continue reading “PIM for global sourcing: features and functions”

The dress: white label products and global sourcing

Some time ago, I bought a wonderful dress by Derhy in St. Petersburg, Russia. At the same time, my friend has returned from Mumbai, where she bought a dress designed by the famous Indian brand Label Ritu Kumar. Surprisingly these dresses were identical! The only difference was the label.

Thanks to Thomas L. Friedman we all know that the world is flat. Even though we can see that not everything is as simple as Coca Cola. Who is the actual designer of the dress? Are there some ghost fashion factories that sell their product for brands?

Actualog helps to define the single version of truth, identify products and define their analogues. The dress example shows that brand sometimes does not matter, and different products are actually the same. This idea has significant importance for global procurement, when product characteristics are important and alternatives should be be found.

Waiting for the Semantic Web: Product Information Management Perspective

“People want to be a part of something that is the future”

Marc Benioff, Behind the Cloud

Anyone who has just discovered the concept of Semantic Web wonders why, despite the apparent simplicity and usefulness of the concept, its deployment takes such a long time and still does not produce any noticeable effects on business. Why a framework that allows data to be shared and reused across application, enterprise, and community boundaries remains only a concept rather than a dominating standard? Continue reading “Waiting for the Semantic Web: Product Information Management Perspective”

Product Information Management in B2B: who is responsible for product data?

Why PIM is important?

Understanding of a PIM system is still missing in the B2B area.  At the same time, we are witnessing two trends determining the growing importance of product information management (PIM) for purchased and manufactured products.

Firstly, it is the rise of online trading in the B2B segment. Sales and marketing models have traditionally been built around large sales forces, C-suite relationships, and enterprise-wide implementations. A disruptive new sales model, however, is emerging: digital-enabled enterprise sales more closely resembles B2C e-commerce models where large enterprise customers can research, test, and start paying for products without stepping away from their computer and with minimal sales touches.   Continue reading “Product Information Management in B2B: who is responsible for product data?”

New requirements for PIM: the disappearing frontier

The borderline between professional and personal consumption is blurring. At the same time products designed for professionals and corporate clients are increasingly being used by individuals because of lowering prices and imprved ease of use, and more and more often high-quality consumer goods are utilized for professional goals.

We observe the trend that more and more products are produced for both business and private users. For example, the growing popularity of home medicine encourages production of medical devices that can be used both by patients and by physicians.

This poses a challenge for Product Information Management (PIM) disciplines. In fact, products now need to be sliced and diced to serve different types of consumers. This means that a product sold via B2B channels has attributes relevant for that channel. The same product sold to end-user may have different attributes and incorporate additional information from customer reviews, comments, etc.

Why manufacturers do not reveal all the details about their products?

Sometimes we are confronted with the fact that manufacturers don’t open  all the details about their product to the clients, don’t provide any product specifications that reflect products properties and characteristics at open access.

Typically, the reasons for such secrecy is:

  • manufacturer beleives that customers don’t need product information (before they buy something);
  • menufacturer or distributor is deliberatly hiding the information to get an opportunity to meet with the client (to influence the client);
  • understanding that the product has worse characteristics in comparison with the competitors;
  • the parameters cannot be set and vary according to the customer (this may be true for the weapons supplied to various parties, or complex equipment, supplied in different countries);
  • ordinary laziness and unwillingness to invest into data quality.

Fortunately, most manufacturers want to provide quality information about their products and willling make the necessary efforts  and willing to invest into data quality.

At the same time customers stimulate suppliers to provide quality information setting product information quality as the one of the selection criteria.

Why manufacturers are not the best product category experts?

We have just discovered that the manufacturer is not always the best expert for the category.

It might seem obvious that a producer knows everything about his product. Who can define product attributes better than an expert from the company producing the product?

But there is a trap for the producer. Producer can define all attibutes for his product, he knows the particula sub-category, for example can describe: “infrared gas sensors”, but not “gas sensor”, or “oil power transformers”, but not “transformers”, and “android robot” but no “robot”.

We need super-experts with a broader vision to define general categories and create good taxonomy with the inheritance of atributes.

7 principles of Social PIM

Principles behind Social Product Information Management:

  1. Product categories and attributes created by experts, anyone who has knowledge and expertise can contribute.
  2. Social network is behind every action and information about an author of the information is open and available.
  3. Everyone can create a product using the product category attributes. Uniqueness and completeness of product record should be guaranteed.
  4. Product producer / manufacturer has a priority to define product characteristics and has ownership over product record.
  5. Decisions about the structure of the classifier are taken as a result of collective discussion. Everyone can start a discussion about a category, an attribute or a product and invite experts to participate.
  6. Library of shared information resources, for exaple measures, units, attributes, etc. is available for expert community
  7. Product record is associated with additional information, which is created by experts, producers, consumers and other stakeholders.