If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans. That’s stolen from Woody Allen, who in turn pinched it from a Yiddish proverb. But it’s an important reminder to all of us that planning and its close cousin, control, can be something of an illusion.
Take, for example, a basic economic reality. The boom-and-bust cycle first defined by Karl Marx often forces businesses to pivot rapidly and seems to take them by surprise every time, despite this cycle happening with clockwork regularity. Then, there are the customer trends that appear to spring up out of nowhere with the power to create whole new industries and indeed decimate old ones. Hello Kodak, Blockbuster and Nokia. These weren’t companies without plans.
That doesn’t mean we should all just throw our carefully thought through strategies up in the air and ride the waves of chaos. Instead, it means we should plan for what we can, and be as prepared as possible for everything which we cannot plan for.
If this all sounds a little apocalyptic, it needn’t be. Companies need to have the flexibility to capitalize on the ‘boom’ part of the cycle, as much as to survive the ‘bust’ bit. Take sustainable homeware company, The Cheeky Panda, as an example here. At the end of 2019, it was a moderately successful, albeit small player in a massive FMCG sector. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Demand for toilet tissue, wipes and cleaning products skyrocketed and so did The Cheeky Panda’s sales. It had to address all sorts of challenges, from finding the working capital to expand to increasing distribution channels through retailers and its own direct to consumer platforms, managing the whole process with a start-up sized employee base which was now mostly working from home.
But you do not even need a crisis to inspire efficiency. URSAPHARM is headquartered in Germany with 700 employees but also has many more in outlying territories. On top of a geographically diverse organization, it also comprises multiple brands and products, all of which need to be managed within a strict, regulatory framework – and at speed. Implementing a central hub all marketing content and product information has meant that approval cycles were shortened from one week to a single day and output has increased by around 300%.
What both of these companies have in common is an agile, flexible mindset. They understand the need to respond to prevailing conditions, acting quickly and iterating as they go.
But all too often, companies are prevented from taking advantage of rapidly changing circumstances by the very systems and processes they have set up to support their plans. Carefully constructed hierarchies and sluggish, archaic workflows have, instead, created slow, siloed organizations that are too disconnected to act quickly. Even though the systems which could help do exist, and indeed are helping many companies right now to create that connectivity and automate so much of the process that is holding them back, there are equally as many (if not more) organizations who are concerned that integrating a new system would cause too much upheaval, take too long, and be too costly - or even all three. But in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
The business results created as a direct result of such solutions surely override these concerns. The efficiencies created by an integrated content management system, and the asset management functionalities which it encompasses - for example Product Information Management System (PIM) and Digital Asset Management System (DAM) - are not only convincing, they can be a game changer for the business.
In the on demand webinar Create Accurate Sales and Marketing Material from Product Data - Introduction to censhare PIM , we explore how just one aspect of a universal content management solution – Product Information Management (or PIM) – can be a significant step towards generating the efficiencies and agility a modern, responsive business needs.
And why do I start with a PIM? Well, a company’s product information should sit at the heart of all of its content. In ecommerce, product info informs every customer interaction until the product is actually in their hands. Those details have to be correct and compelling, and useful in every format imaginable.
This is no small task. Looking at just a small sample of censhare clients, you find some who manage over nine million files across 420,000 products . Another has a total of 300,000 assets that need to be available to its agency network across 18 countries , and another manages a whopping 11 million assets in a central system . Doing this in any sort of coherent fashion would be impossible without a centralized, automated resource.
And it’s made even more complicated because product information rarely sits alone. It is part of a whole semantic network of relationships. Each product is a tiny flake creating a massive snowball effect across the organization.
The PIM takes these tiny flakes – or products – and organizes them in a central hub. Through automated tagging and compilation of meta data, the system builds out and manages all the relationships between images, product details, text, language variants, campaigns, channels and so much more.
By then embedding this information into a user dashboard, everyone can see what is happening with any piece of product information at any one time, from supply chain to customer delivery. And if a change is made, it happens automatically across the whole semantic network, keeping records accurate and relevant, and updates transparent. Through this technology, one censhare client managed to automate 70% of its layouts , while another saw a massive 99% reduction in design planning time for its books.
Companies often talk about disruption as a once in a lifetime event but, given the evolutions and revolutions witnessed over at least the past two decades, perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that change is now a constant. Plans are still possible, vital even, but they must incorporate a high level of agility if they’re to succeed. Implementing systems that support that agility, like the PIM or a wider Universal Content Management System (UCMS) , will be key if companies are to stay efficient, effective and competitive.
You can get some insight into how a PIM works within the realms of daily product information management, as well as how it can form an integral role across a variety of department, watch our on-demand webinar, Create Accurate Sales and Marketing Material from Product Data - Introduction to censhare PIM, here .
Watch this on demand webinar session for tips on best practice product information management via a live demo of the censhare PIM solution.Watch now