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As digital becomes the norm, many B2B companies are beginningto drive strategic initiatives to transform themselves. According to IBM, B2B digital commerce is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2019 in the US alone. This includes companies adopting e-commerce to reach a wider audience. It also includes companies leveraging digital for marketplaces, e-Procurement, Punch-Out, planning, and forecasting.

That said, it is only when your products are supplemented with relevant, attractive, updated, and detailed information that you can truly drive the digital impact you are hoping for. This puts the focus squarely on product master data.

Why Product Master Data Matters!

Product master data can bethe unifying force across organizations. Different companies come together to bring a comprehensive solution to the end customers. Over this process, much information about the product is created, shared, and stored.

Regardless of where you are in this cycle, effectively managing the master product data becomes essential to enable the digitization of a variety of business processes. And no matter how much time, money or effort you invest in executing your digital vision, the success of your business strategies depends largely on the quality and availability of accurate and consistent product data.

B2B product data is voluminous, varied, hard to acquire, and needs constant updating. By investing in the right master data management (MDM) and product information management (PIM) tools and practices, you can improve the quality of product data – both for internal process and external distributor partners as well as for customers.

Organizations use product data every day across a variety of business functions. These organizations will have to take a holistic approach and adopt a comprehensive product data strategy.

If you are looking to achieve your digital goals faster, you must start by treating product data as an enterprise asset. Here’s how you can use product data to execute your digital vision:

To onboard manufacturers/distributors: Product master data provides a consistent foundation of information that can feed various distribution tools. Such a foundation can play a crucial role in onboarding manufacturers and distributors. This helps to create a single version of the truth about the product across the disparate systems, processes, and tools that prevail in the complex manufacturer – distributor ecosystem. By making accurate and consistent product master data with regards to pricing, product description, and marketing message always available, you can drive quicker distributor on-boarding, retention and referral.

To empower customers: Whether the product is sitting on a shelf in a store in the USA, offered in a product catalog in Germany, featured in a TV commercial in Britain, or listed on an e-commerce website in India, consistent and accurate product data can greatly impact how the product and the brand is perceived. Consistent, high-quality data on products can positively impact an organization’s relationship with customers. Providing detailed and relevant product information with respect to price, specifications, components, warranty information, shipping details, spare parts, and more, allows you to empower your customers in making the right purchasing decisions. Providing every detail about your products can reduce the frequency of customer queries, allowing employees to focus on meeting the demand for new products. Accurate and up-to-date product master data can also help in optimizing inventory, preventing stock-outs and ensuring shipments are delivered ontime.

To make the content enrichment process efficient: Everyone from designers to engineers to marketers generates information about the product, as it passes through the product lifecycle. Since content lies at the center of an organization’s digital strategy, enriching this content can deliver significant value across the organization. Efficient management of this data using MDM and PIM tools can ensure product data is constantly updated and enriched. Accurate and relevant product master data can allow you to support faster and more flexible production workflows, enable content to be found more easily, and improve user experience.

To enable better business decisions: When product master data is accurate, easily accessible, and integrated across enterprise systems, employees are able to find the information they need much faster. This flows over to managers and key decision-makers, allowing them to react to business events faster. What’s more, when decision-makers are able to locate key product information faster, they get more efficient at carrying out data-centric tasks and are able to make better business decisions.

To achieve higher ROI: When relevant product data is accessible and presented in a standardized format, it can drive a significant increase in employee efficiency. Higher quality data can not only improve time-to-information it can also provide an accurate audit trail of activity and events. Employees can be better equipped to resolve customer issues and rectify underlying problems. When such data is integrated with the systems business partners use, you can greatly speed up the process of sharing information, reduce the number of human errors, and improve the overall quality of the data within the systems. 

Meet your digital goals

As the B2B landscape gets more and more complex and competitive, having the most accurate, up-to-date, and relevant product data is essential to drive a digital strategy. An impactful product master data strategy will enable you to onboard distributors and manufacturers, empower customers, make the content enrichment process efficient, enable better business decisions, and achieve higher ROI. It’s clear that when you make product data an integral element of your digital strategy, you stand a better chance of meeting your digital goals.

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