Taming ‘big data’ is the theme of 2012, and we’d rightly dismiss this as hype were it not that the pain, expense and drag on our growth is so acute. Our customer data is increasingly complex and extensive. Our supply chain information – so important for choice and service – needs to be turned into active selling information. The selling ecosystem spans channels, locations, devices and behavioural profiles and this significantly increases the customer data we need to manage. More and more of our teams are involved with data management and use, and so compliance and quality questions move from the ‘back office’ to become commercial issues. Finally, we have the never-ending problem of continuous change and attempting to ‘future proof’ our investment in processes, staff capabilities and sales effectiveness.
Retailers have myriad highly capable and specialised systems to address the issues above – indeed the number of tools competing for our attention is a challenge. In the white paper that follows we consider an enterprise-grade information system that’s focused upon the ‘product’, a system that simultaneously manages complexity and increases capability. Sitting alongside the other pillars of retail information – customer data, order management and merchandising systems – we will consider the imperative for product information management (PIM) systems from a commercial and customer perspective, and offer strategic and practical advice for those thinking of investing in such technology.