Marketers, e-commerce directors, data analysts, content operations managers, master data management (MDM) managers, heads of channel management … these are just some of the roles of people we talked to for our recently published Forrester Wave™ evaluation on product information management (PIM) vendors. This diverse set of PIM users reflects how this role has broadened in the world of omnichannel commerce — this was exaggerated even more over the last year when, in many cases, the digital shelf was the only shelf open to consumers.

Whether you’re a longtime PIM user very familiar with some of the biggest names in the PIM market or recently had the epiphany that it’s time to revisit how you manage and take advantage of your product data, you can use this Wave to refresh your knowledge of who’s who in the market and what you should consider in a new partner. To interpret the Wave, keep in mind some of these key findings:

  • Different breeds of PIM exist, slowly converging. The PIM market is a tale of two. On the one hand, major players focus on similar key areas to modernize their solutions. This includes overhauling the user experience, building more flexible data models, embedding more robust digital asset management functionality, and investing in syndication capabilities and advanced analytics. On the other hand, the market is still segmented between marketing/commerce-oriented PIMs, and those solutions evolved from the MDM world. The vendors strongest in syndication, user experience, and enrichment tend to lag peers in areas such as core product data management and governance and process support — and vice versa. Your shortlist may include vendors in both segments, but the distinct strengths should stress-test critical functionality and a roadmap best aligned to your needs.
  • Emerging visions offer promise … but many customers are a way off. The evolution of PIM from a data management function to a core enabler of product experience has awoken big dreams within the PIM vendors. Leading vendors set lofty goals — from creating new experience platform markets to embedding AI, automation, and analytics functionality to closing the loop between product data and experience insights. Many of the customers we spoke with, however, struggle with fundamental challenges, like getting quality data into the PIM before they could focus on improving the quality of the content coming out. As a core grounding principle, PIM should fit into your broader commerce strategy and build bridges with adjacent functions, data sets, and platforms.
  • It’s a fast-evolving market. Over the past few years, we’ve seen PIMs raise impressive funding, increase R&D investments by double digits, and build key partnerships in adjacent markets. In the final week leading up to the Wave’s publication, the pace has not slowed down. Three vendors evaluated have made big news: Salsify has acquired Alkemics (and its Supplier Experience Management Platform), and Syndigo has acquired Riversand (both included in the Wave evaluation).

Use the Wave as a starting point to get up to speed with the market, but if you want to talk more about PIM, especially with recent changes in the market, please set up time with me here.