Maintaining product lists is often cited as a great example of
Master Data Management (MDM). Many companies that manufacture or sell
products need to get a consistent list of products for a variety of
business reasons. The business value includes tracking what you sell to
customers and also how you manage your supply chain. Product firms
create products organically (internally) and through acquisitions. In
both cases, each product line has, at least for part of its life, been
operated as a separate business. At some point in the product life and
sales cycle, business conditions dictate a transition into the
company's product portfolio. Although managing product lists is not
always a simple task, it is only the tip of the iceberg for companies
that design or engineer products. These companies have a need for a
more complete PIM (Product Information Management) solution that
extends far beyond simple product lists.
If you design or engineer products, then you need to track product
designs and configurations that evolve and change over time. This
applies to many manufacturing industries from high tech, consumer
products, defense, and automobile to even farm machinery. These designs
and configurations are likely scattered across many databases and often
unstructured data sources. This data is not stored in your classic data
warehouse (DW) or integrated through your run-in-of-the-mill ETL tool.
You need to think outside your typical DW effort and determine how to
get that data integrated into your PIM solution.