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Importance of data governance and management in times of a global pandemic

digital business intelligence growth
(Image credit: Image Credit: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens)

Covid-19 has forever altered the meaning of regular verbs like working, shopping, and gaming. With the massive behavioral change in customers across industries, we witness a rising demand for end-to-end digital experiences. This change is slowly becoming mainstream as remote work, and online shopping are now a part of the new normal.

The heightened expectations for digital experiences from customers, employees, and other stakeholders call for immediate, scaled, and significant digital transformation of traditionally offline products and services. People want to be heard and understood, making them extremely sensitive to tone and motive.

The way enterprises approach data governance and management will play a critical role in catering to this phenomenon.

Evolved data governance and management

A recent global survey of 5,000 app developers and decision-makers stated that 79 percent of organizations wouldn’t meet the required experience thresholds without modernizing their app development approach. A big part of this modernization initiative is reengineering systems, tools, and processes to harness better data.

"A systematic, cross-national approach to handling sensitive data is vital, not only to deal with the current crisis but to prepare for the next one", according to Takanori Fujita, project lead for healthcare data policy, World Economic Forum, C4IR Japan. The words of Mr. Fujita are essential both for national and organizational administration.

The value of data is dynamic, which can lead to suboptimal use cases and loss of opportunity. To create persistent data value, enterprises must learn to combine data gathering, data enrichment, and use and sharing with data value and business value. This demands robust data governance and management capabilities. A well-designed data governance program can enhance data’s value and versatility and provide insights for driving well-grounded business decisions.

In fact, digital business initiatives need smart data principles to drive rightsized governance and management for achieving business objectives. Product information management and master data management programs are vital to digital business success. Solutions like Master Data Management (MDM) and Product Information Management (PIM) can help companies tap into superior data governance, management, and associated processes to deliver the desired digital experience.

Product Information Management (PIM)

Reconnecting with customers and rebuilding trust is of utmost importance today as first-time shoppers venture into the online realm. The other group of customers makes informed decisions by conducting extensive research and skims information across multiple channels. In both cases, product information has a critical role to play. As intimate and connected experiences become essential, orchestration needs sensitive handling of data. With alternatives in abundance, people can hop from one brand to another in minutes. One glitch in the product information dissemination or channel inconsistency, or even low product discovery can lead to instant dissatisfaction.             

A PIM system can come in handy to get rid of such scenarios of poor digital experience. By optimizing product data and content, PIM can tailor experiences to target, attract, and engage customers and drive purchasing behavior. It can tailor a digital experience that is relevant and contextual by optimizing email content, recommendations, offers, etc. PIM can also improve data assets’ time-to-value by better visualization of quality and policy relationships and streamlining troubleshooting. Understanding the science behind product information construction, assortment, and display can also help in customizing and streamlining brand-customer interfaces that positively augment the interaction's impact. You can also better respond to behavioral signals and sentiment analytics with PIM and deliver a customer-centric digital journey wherein your outreach is more authentic and caring than self-serving.

PIM enables digital commerce that further helps in reaching out more potential buyers in today’s the global pandemic scenario. It can allow frictionless data flow ensuring high quality and minimized human errors in product data publishing and syndication across channels. Such a cohesive, centralized, and consolidated view of product information accessed by several stakeholders is a potent tool for the entire organization. It gives maximum visibility with little space for confusion – even while working remotely.

Master Data Management (MDM)

In this time of uncertainty, investment risks are high, and data can be leveraged as a powerful tool to strategize with caution. Any company, in any industry, deals with multiple data sets. This data can range from internal records to customer information to necessary partnership details to product specifications to supply chain and employee-related data, and so on. With such diversity, volume, and influx speed, making the most of data is not possible with manual entries and spreadsheets.

The current state of social distancing and lockdown has furthered the need for an automated system since the traditional physical infrastructure of storing and visualizing data are rendered useless. A Master Data Management (MDM) system can bring standardization to all such data sets by integrating with legacy ERP/CRM/SCM systems and deriving value from existing information architecture. It can profile data from all these applications and apply standard business, data management rules, and data protection policies. Packaged MDM solutions can provide the ability to create, maintain, and draw on a single, trusted, and shareable version of master data. Be it operational or transactional data, thick data (deep stakeholder insights), or comprehensive data (micro/macro market trends), MDM can continuously update and utilize all data sources across the organization.

MDM solutions can support a centralized use case, with product data authored in the MDM hub and synchronized with all downstream applications. However, MDM implementation programs contain various risk areas that must be recognized and addressed to ensure success. Therefore, one must adopt the MDM disciplines with caution and a clear vision to answer probable use cases, the scale of implementation, addressing talent gaps (if any), and predetermined performance metrics to map the progress.

Steps to take in the new normal

Companies need to be more proactive and nimbler to keep pace with customer expectations. While Product Information Management (PIM) and Master Data Management (MDM) can drive proactivity and nimbleness, companies must be aware of their data management objectives and select a solution that best suits their requirements. Above all, their solution of choice must support information governance and stewardship – a capability not offered by many vendors.

  1. Understand organizational roles, architectures, practices, technology trends, and vendor offerings for data management
  2. Design data governance and management by keeping customers at the core of everything
  3. Understand the diversity of data sources and range of data governance and management approaches
  4. Implement information governance and stewardship of key product data assets by managing information governance as part of corporate governance processes, not as an isolated discipline
  5. Implement and enforce a unified information governance policy within MDM, PIM, DAM, and syndication software solutions
  6. Create a 360° view of products, processes, and people by connecting master data, product data, and other digital assets from multiple data sources

Now is the time for businesses to invest in data governance technology to deliver immersive, intuitive digital experiences. Companies that recognize data management’s power and adopt advanced solutions for it in time will be the next customer-experience leaders.

Shashin Shah, CEO, Pimcore Global Services

Shashin Shah is CEO of Pimcore Global Services. Pimcore is an open-source platform for product information management (PIM/MDM), digital asset management (DAM), content management system (CMS), and eCommerce. In his over 20 years of experience, both globally and in the US, he has managed large enterprise clients through strategizing, operating, consulting, and carrying out implementations worth USD 100M+ via global delivery models across several industries.