I was recently asked what I was doing while working as a Product Information Management Intern at Mercedes-Benz, so I decided to write this blog post and share the main purpose of product information management (PIM) and explain how it can save money for corporations.
Defining product information management
PIM is especially useful for large corporations selling complex products. The main purpose is to create a system with aligned processes to collect product information and make it instantly available to whoever needs it. It is possible to set restrictions to access if it is not wished that everyone throughout the corporation should access product information. Another option is to apply for access, which will be granted by the PIM department when specific criteria are satisfied. Product information can be anything such as product pictures, product descriptions, technical details of products, and technical drawings of products. The department in which I worked not only managed product information but was also responsible for the creation process of product pictures. Most of the pictures one sees in ads are not real photographs but highly sophisticated computer generated images (CGIs).
For instance, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class product information consists of many thousands CGIs, from large parts such as wheels, seats, or power engines to detailed parts such as material textures, buttons, or knobs. Every customer wants to have clear product information available when ordering his or her car, which is why every possible configuration needs to be displayed. Complexities arise since not every product can be combined with one another, which creates the need for the development of clear product descriptions and configuration lists. To store all this information, there is a requirement for a centralised PIM system, often called Single Source Publishing (SSP).
Saving money through product information management
Without a PIM system, employees do not know whether and what product information exist. The result is that different departments might create different product information for the product. If one department would call a steering wheel “Active Touch Wheel“ and other “Touch Sensitive Steering Wheel“, it would create a lot confusion. Local dealerships would have to call the customer service and customer service would have to figure out which department is responsible for steering wheels, only to find out that two instead of one departments were involved in the creation of the product information. This is an undesirable situation. If one does not make it right during the first time, it will cost a lot more to make it right afterwards. The solution is a PIM system.
Setting up an internal communication strategy
Nevertheless, having a PIM system alone is not sufficient. Leading a product information department successfully requires the development of an internal communication strategy. Employees throughout the corporation need to understand the Six Ws: 1. What does PIM? 2. Who does PIM? 3. When is PIM available? 4. Where can PIM be accessed? 5. Why does PIM exist? 6. How can PIM be used? When employees see the value of using a PIM system, it increases the probability of its usage. Therefore, communication plays an important role to ensure the success of a PIM department within a corporation.