Monday, 31 March 2014

PIM: Silo Breaker!

How can you turn information into actionable knowledge? Enough has been said as to how fast information is stacking up and we all know that this is creating a paradoxical situation.
From one end, information is being gathered in spades to enable quick problem-solving. On the other end, information is locked in disparate systems hindering the very reason why information was collected in the first place.


I lean on David Aeker for defense. In his Spanning Silos, Aeker convincingly pointed out that a silo is a metaphor for "organizational units that contain their own management team and talent and lack of motivation...to work with or even communicate with other units." Hence, the very idea of collaboration and flow of information is challenged resulting in products and solutions that in fact claim to solve the problem but in reality further segregate the knowledge base.

A unified approach
What we need is a unified paradigm for capturing, storing, organizing, and searching content as well as people. Interestingly, PIM is an application approach to aggregate product data in order to transform data into information relevant to multiple channels. Apparently, this may result in another silo but this is a very shaky way to look at PIM. In fact, PIM is more than an application to master product data, PIM is all about collaboration.


We should remember that creation of product information is all about the process of bringing together cross-departmental contributions that lead to the final artifact. Given the nature of product information, this is more than a workflow scenario - albeit necessary - that assists the collection of information at the right time from the right source.
In fact, product information touches the entire enterprise. For instance, PIM supports transactional systems such as order fulfillment, warehouse management, etc. or can be more merchandise-oriented by supporting multi-channel marketing where a whole slew of contributions are possible. It crosses the enterprise as well. Think about how reviews and feedback on products will impact the information that is dynamically attached to products.

The enemy of silos is fertile communication across the board which is reflected down to operations. With all the key teams working on the same platform, PIM enables and facilitates a collaborative environment where real teams made up of people from multiple departments sit and work on the same construction site by promoting cross-fertilization, immediate appreciation across department, and a quick turnaround.

Image source: http://www.winnersfdd.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Cultural-Silos-generic.jpg

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