The Short Answer:
Slighter Longer Answer:
MDM (Master Data Management) is an IT-led initiative focused on creating a centralized “golden record” of master and reference data across many domains: customer, product, location, supplier, financial, etc. The objective is to create accurate and consistent information accessible to everyone across the organization.
PIM (product information management) is a subset of MDM that focuses on delivering high-quality and accurate product information and is most frequently used to support merchandising and marketing.
As a business-led solution rather than an IT-led initiative, PIM typically represents a much easier and more cost-effective implementation than a more ambitious and organization-wide MDM deployment.
What is Master Data Management (MDM)?
MDM is a set of processes and tools used to deliver harmonized data to support smooth business operations across a variety of systems and applications. MDM enables organizations to collect, match, clean, aggregate, and distribute consistent and accurate master data to operational and analytical systems.
MDM systems typically manage data across multiple data domains including employee, customer, financial, location, and vendor information. As a result, MDM projects tend to be very broad in scope and require significant resources to implement and maintain. The use cases for an MDM system can also span multiple business objectives and functional departments across an organization.
MDM helps organizations improve business operations by:
- Decreasing the complexity inherent in globalization and expansion
- Reducing data inconsistencies that can have major impacts on business operations
- Allowing organizations to make edits to data in one area and ensure that those edits are reflected in all appropriate areas
- Providing cleaner data for analysis
- Supporting consistent data across multiple platforms and tools
- Helping meet compliance regulations
MDM helps organizations improve business operations by removing data inconsistencies that can have serious business impacts. However, it is a massive effort with inputs and impacts across the entire global organization.
What is a PIM (Product Information Management)?
PIM is a product-oriented software solution that allows organizations to centralize and enrich all of their product information to deliver accurate product descriptions and images in a globally scalable multi-channel marketing environment.
PIM provides a single source of truth for product data. It makes it easy to enrich products, manage images, and ensure they look great on any platform including websites, marketplaces, mobile, print catalogs, and retail points of sale.
PIM centralizes product information to provide a single source of truth within organizations.
PIM is the best way to enrich product data and descriptions. It removes the tedious and repetitive tasks that are required when using spreadsheets to manage product information. PIM tools typically connect easily to eCommerce systems. PIM can be useful to marketers, catalog and eCommerce managers, as well as data governance drivers and buyers. Compared to MDM projects, PIM initiatives are faster to deploy, require fewer resources, and deliver business value much sooner.
PIM solutions provide three core capabilities :
- Collect data: PIM can collect and centralize product data from numerous sources including databases, ERPs, flat files, media systems, and supplier portals. Data sources can be prioritized, and information can be cleaned to seamlessly integrate into catalogs.
- Enrich data: Once product data is collected, marketing and eCommerce teams can enrich the data with customized product descriptions, specifications, classifications, usage data, translations, and media files. Organizations can also improve their data quality by having a clear picture of which products are “complete” – i.e. have all the necessary data required for publishing – and which ones still need to be enriched.
- Publish data: With wholly enriched products, data can be distributed to all sales channels like eCommerce platforms, mobile applications, AI-enhanced tools like chatbots, social networks, and marketplaces. Plus, with the right solution, many PIM systems make it easy for eCommerce companies to quickly create beautiful print catalogs with just the click of a button.
PIM helps organizations:
- Improve product data quality and accuracy
- Improve overall catalog and product information management processes
- Eliminate redundant work and boost collaboration
- Increase operational productivity
- Decrease time-to-market
- Easily expand into new markets and locales
- Maintain brand identity across multi-touch points
- Increase sales conversions
- Reduce returns
PIM allows organizations to easily maintain and enrich all product information so it can be utilized across sales channels.
MDM vs. PIM? Which is the right solution for you?
Both MDM and PIM solutions offer a similar set of capabilities and can be used to organize critical product data to provide companies with a single source of information. This centralized source of truth provides a stronger basis for making major business decisions and keeps everyone on the same page, but the question remains – which solution is right for you?
If your primary concern is increasing sales, adding additional product SKUs, or entering new channels or markets, then you want a PIM. It’s a dedicated, business-centric marketing solution that offers a much faster deployment and ROI compared to an enterprise-wide MDM system. PIM tools also tend to have robust connectors to eCommerce, print, mobile and POS systems as these are the main consumers of accurate product data for marketing and sales.
On the other hand, if your use case includes managing other data domains such as customer, financial, or location data, or treats product data as simply another domain, and you have sufficient resources and time for deployment, MDM may be more appropriate for your needs.
Want more information about the need for and benefits from a product information management system? Ventana Research recently put out a free research paper on the subject: Building High Quality and Complete Product Information.