The Key Requirement in Choosing a Product MDM Hub

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Customer Data Integration (CDI) was declared “done” by industry analyst Aaron Zornes at the recent CDI-MDM Summit conference in New York.

Most leading edge companies implementing CDI have the technology, business processes, and data governance in place. So for some MDM practitioners at least, the focus of MDM is shifting to the “product” domain. However, the “mass market” of mainstream companies continue to struggle with data governance, even in the “customer” domain.

Just as CDI technologies have been evolving since the mid to late 90’s, product data management technologies continue to evolve as well. The rise of product information management systems (PIMs) in parallel with Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems was fueled by the need to manage and synchronize product information from multiple data sources.

Most analysts now regard PIM as a subset of MDM, although originally PIM was considered a subset of Product Lifecycle Management instead. And Product MDM hubs extend the capabilities of existing PIM solutions, bringing approaches like data quality and data governance to bear on product data management.

Product hubs complement existing PLM implementations by aggregating the information within the PLM and other data sources and then making that information available throughout the enterprise and beyond to the supply chain. PLM systems have also evolved from departmental-level data and design systems to process-oriented, customer-centric and global collaborative systems.

We discussed with Andy Walker of British Petroleum at the CDI-MDM conference how PLM systems hold vast amounts of data. For example, at the lubricants division of BP, they have 30,000 different lubricants managed in their PLM system, which will eventually integrate with a Product MDM hub.

Product MDM hubs must incorporate both structured and unstructured product-related data, accomodating product categories that contain vastly different attributes, as well as extracts from global PLM systems with large amounts of product data over the entire product management lifecycle.

Both IBM and SAP are working towards significant releases in 2008 that bolster their capabilities in their product MDM hubs. In fact, all the vendors as far as we are aware, are rapidly evolving their MDM offerings to better address the “product” domain.

So in a nutshell, what are the key requirements that companies need to consider when choosing a product MDM hub? Paul Weinberg, SVP of SAP’s MDM group, provided a one-word answer at the recent CDI-MDM summit – “flexibility”.

And we certainly agree. As companies seek to reduce costs and achieve higher product profitability, choosing and implementing MDM to improve efficiencies and communication throughout the enterprise is a must.

But don’t expect an MDM hub which incorporates product data to replace your monster PLM system. It may replace your Product Information Management (PIM) solution, but today’s Product MDM hubs probably won’t subsume PLM systems, at least not for the next several years.

There’s a balance to be struck between getting overwhelmed by the complexity and variability of product data across the enterprise, and over-simplify product information to the point where it can’t be shared across the whole enterprise. And don’t forget to apply the learnings from the Customer domain about the importance of data quality and data governance.

Over the last several years, we’ve advised a number of clients on sharing product information efficiently to increase both their top and bottom lines. Now, we’re getting involved in the Product domain of Master Data Management, and bringing that expertise to today’s business problems.

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  1. It’s Good To Be On The First Page of Google « Hub Designs Blog - 03/27/2011

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