Which solution is the best for managing my product data?
A lot of acronyms for solutions to manage your product data are floating around. DAM, MAM, ERP, PIM, MRM, MDM, PDM and many more. But what doe these acronyms mean and what do they stand for? What are the similarities and what are the differences?
A short historical overview…
In traditional retail, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is the place to record product data. This need primarily arises from the necessity to record product logistics information like height, width, purchase price and stock. The moment a marketing or sales department intended bringing the products to the public’s attention, more commercial information was added to this data, usually using Excel sheets in combination with USB sticks. The result – as is still the case in many companies – is that data moving through an organisation is disconnected and therefore uncontrolled.
DAM – Digital Asset Management
The demand for storing product images in a structured manner arose from the need to be able to display images along with the product data. The so-called DAM systems were developed to facilitate this. In addition to product images, other product related material like product sheets and manuals could be stored in any given format. MAM (Media Asset Management) is a synonym for DAM.
MRM – Marketing Resource Management
As well as the need for using typical product related data and visual material, companies also want to safeguard their house style, visual identity and their promotional activities. This is the origin of the so-called MRM systems. Branding and promotions are the keywords here. It enables companies to monitor their marketing and communications activities.
PIM – Product Information Management
A PIM solution offers the possibility to manage complex products efficiently. Companies enter products that comprise a large number of combination and variation possibilities. The challenge is to communicate this to various output channels like print and e-Commerce in a clear and effective manner.
Managing the variants is a key focus area within a PIM. Relations and dependencies between products is another key theme. Relations between, for example, spare or replacement parts, alternatives, accessories, etc. can be registered and displayed within a PIM system.
Besides the fact that products have their own specific characteristics, there is a growing trend to characterise products by classifications, whether or not based on international standards like GS1. One of the powerful resources within a PIM system is the possibility to allocate classifications to the products.
PDM – Product Data Management
PDM is easily confused with PIM. However, PDM has a different background. This term is usually used in the more technical environment. PDM is primarily intended to facilitate managing and controlling the product creation process. Version control is a highly developed component in this.
MDM – Master Data Management
Establishing a permanent relationship between various data sources within a company requires an MDM system. It enables organisations to have one consistent picture of their critical business data in one central location. It is therefore not limited to product data alone. It establishes relationships between different data types, like, for example, product and customer data. The technology itself functions like middleware and gives systems a common place to search for approved data definitions.
Which system best suits my needs?
This, in fact, is not an easy question to answer. Moreover, it raises a number of new questions: What prompts the need? Is it operations related or coming from the management? Does it concern a bottleneck that has to be resolved quickly? Does the need stem from a company strategy that has to be followed?
All of the applications covered here have a place within the total playing field. Determining the right solution requires thorough research. Next, a specific product will have to be selected within the chosen direction. This will require making a choice based on specific requirements.
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