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"The potential of product data for the automotive and supplier industry"

Excerpt: The automotive industry and its suppliers have special requirements for product data. Learn in this article how a PIM system helps to make cross-organizational collaboration and process optimization along the value chain significantly more efficient in order to realize additional competitive advantages.

Increasing complexity of product data

Digitalization and Industry 4.0 are facing companies across all industries with ever greater challenges in the management of product data – and the automotive industry is no exception. For example, the number of product data to be managed continues to increase as more and more channels and systems are integrated into the value creation process. Attributes for product data (product data specifications) to format product information in a meaningful way are becoming more and more extensive. Titles, descriptions, capacities, units of measure, prices, product categories, product types, materials, sizes, weights, standardizations, classifications, etc. represent only a small number of the attributes that need to be maintained. Industry-specific data formats, such as TecDoc, make the administrative effort even more complex. At the same time, the number of associated assets (e.g., product videos, product images, 360° views), which must be distributed directly to relevant marketing and sales channels (e.g., ecommerce systems, marketplaces, online catalogs, print, supplier and partner portals), is also increasing. 

On the other hand, process optimization, automation, product enhancements, compliance, and internationalization pose further challenges that make it more difficult to merge and distribute product data on a reliable basis. Good and consistent product data is especially important in the automotive industry to be able to react quickly to environmental factors and market changes (e.g., conservation, electromobility, autonomous driving, connectivity).

Making big data manageable with PIM

In order to efficiently master these increasing challenges, a central product database for product management is becoming increasingly indispensable. PIM (Product Information Management) systems take over the central collection, enrichment, harmonization and distribution of product data. They ensure that the correct data, in the correct format, is presented in the relevant channels – often even in real time. 

Leading automotive and supplier companies such as Audi, Westfalia Automotive and BE Turbo know that with the rapid restructuring of existing business practices will also result many opportunities to differentiate themselves from the competition.

The next generation of leaders needs quick and easy access to trusted data to make better business decisions and accelerate digital transformation. For this purpose, it is critical that data is of high quality and provides the right context when aggregated and merged from disparate sources. However, in many cases, organizations still have to deal with data that is often spread across different isolated systems, applications, business units and geographies. Much of this data is responsible for specific processes in the manufacturing and distribution value chain, making it difficult to get a reliable 360° view of your own data. These fragmented data sources can ultimately result in lost productivity, compliance issues, and ultimately a poor customer experience. 

Source: PIM Directory, SDZeCOM

A PIM system is responsible for the central collection, management and enrichment of product information, the cataloguing of products and the distribution of product data to other sales and marketing channels. As a central data point, a PIM system combines all product information that is collected in the value chain at different points in product management, marketing, sales and logistics. During the consolidation of the data, it is simultaneously refined, translated and controlled. This is the only way to ensure that the product information is complete, correct and consistent and meets the industry-specific quality requirements. For this reason, a PIM system is also often referred to as a “single source of truth”.

A PIM system always aims to find solutions to all the problems that companies can encounter in product data management. If you distribute numerous products through diverse sales channels (whether in a B2C or B2B), then some of these problems will certainly sound familiar to you:

  • Complexity of data handling, which increases with the product range
  • Inconsistent data as it is maintained in parallel on multiple systems (data silos)
  • Too much data that needs to be manually sorted in your system (attributes, technical data, digital assets, SKUs, etc.)
  • Constantly changing product specifications (prices, stocks, descriptions, etc.)
  • The management of different supplier data
  • The translation and provision of product information for different markets and countries
  • The increasing number of marketing and sales channels you need to keep under control (online shops, online product catalogues, marketplaces, apps, shops, print)

Advantages of PIM for the automotive industry

To systematically unlock the potential of product and supplier data, manufacturers must create a flexible ecosystem in which every area of responsibility, both internal and external, has access to the relevant information. This is the only way to work collaboratively and efficiently along the value chain, realizing the following benefits:

Increasing operational efficiency

If industrial manufacturing companies have access to a central product database and also understand the relationships between the product data, they are able to better align business processes and make more well-founded decisions. Automation in the creation and distribution of product information, digital media content, descriptions and classifications simultaneously reduces the effort for recurring tasks as well as the error rates in manual workflows.

More agility

Manufacturers in the automotive industry and supplier sector must be able to adapt their production structures and business models quickly to dynamic market requirements and fluctuations in demand. They must be able to accelerate their market launches to meet customer demands for improved and new products. Accordingly, FASTER time to market is a key requirement to remain competitive, especially in the face of complex and global supply chains, increased competition, and product standardization. A PIM system enables quick access to the consistent and reliable data, and speeds up the supply chain for manufacturers.

Improved collaboration and internationalization

For industrial companies that market their products internationally, it is important to manage all product information centrally to enable efficient and cross-departmental collaboration across applications and locations. A PIM system helps manufacturers better align regions, locations and teams by accessing an enterprise-wide product data source. Additionally, it provides a centralized management framework for country-specific marketing and sales activities. This is particularly helpful when manufacturers do not market all variants of all products in their portfolio in all regions.

Engaging omnichannel product experience

Omnichannel management is no longer just relevant for retail. Manufacturing companies also need to go beyond selling their products and nurture and strengthen their customer relationships with compelling content. They need to offer business-oriented platforms such as online catalogs, supplier portals or intuitive apps for field service to ensure an excellent product experience across all channels. Rich product data provides the basis for this.

Monitoring compliance requirements

A PIM system ensures the quality, protection and security of product data throughout the entire product lifecycle and provides the basis for comprehensive data governance. It defines clear rules and specifications for handling data for the various stakeholders such as employees, customers, suppliers and partners. Access is precisely defined and regulated for the individual stakeholders. At the same time, costs for the administration and storage of data can be optimized through the structured concept.

Mastering data complexity sustainably

Successful industrial companies depend on building a strong IT ecosystem that leverages the power of data analytics and connectivity to maximize operational efficiency. To drive digital transformation, they need not only the right technology, but also a strong digital culture based on high-quality data. Implementing a scalable and intelligent PIM solution is a critical step forward for any manufacturer that wants to remain competitive in their market. 

If you would like to learn more about how the prodexa Cloud PIM system not only meets but exceeds the requirements of the automotive and supplier industries, then download the free whitepaper “prodexa Cloud for the automotive and vehicle industry” or arrange a non-binding online demo to experience the extensive functions for your industry live in practice.

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