The Critical Role of Data Governance in elevating Modern Data Strategies

Emerging technologies like analytics, artificial intelligence, automation, and cloud computing drive a huge digital shift in the business landscape. Data serves as the cornerstone that connects these varied technologies. It’s more than just the new oil; it’s the lifeblood of today’s economic ecosystem. As organizations adapt, each digital encounter generates data, which drives digital transformation. However, for this data to be useful, it must be secure, well-managed, and organized. A strong data governance plan is critical as organizations figure out their path to Data-driven growth.

Understanding Data Governance

Data governance is a systematic strategy for managing, safeguarding, and optimizing an organization’s data assets. It is more than just a phrase; it’s a business’s strategic need. Data governance includes a collection of procedures, policies, and standards to guarantee that data is used effectively and responsibly throughout its lifecycle. It plays a crucial role in ensuring:

  • Better Decision-Making: Effective data governance leads to high-quality data which enables more accurate and informed decision-making processes.
  • Improved Data Security: Rigorous data governance ensures compliance with regulations, reducing the risk of breaches.
  • Enhanced Operational Efficiency: Streamlined data procedures under data governance lead to more efficient operations and resource utilization.

While these benefits are substantial, challenges such as resistance to change and complexity in implementation can arise, particularly in larger organizations. Successful strategies focus on delivering targeted value to specific goals before expanding across the organization.

Why should you have a strong Data Governance strategy?

Organizations commonly store unstructured data from various sources in non-relational databases or data lakes, which makes it difficult for them to analyze and manage it. The first step in implementing a data governance plan is to create data capture methods adapted to the needs of your organization and its departments, preventing unnecessary data collection.

A robust data governance strategy is important for achieving your organization’s goals. While each company’s plan will be unique, several key elements should be considered when developing and implementing data governance. The key objectives include:

  • Effective Utilization of Data: Ensure data is used correctly, minimizing errors and misuse. Clear data usage regulations and robust monitoring processes, including technical and commercial specifics, are critical.
  • Enhanced Data Security: Protect all data and prevent illegal access.
  • Misattributed Technology Issues: Issues with unclear reports frequently result in the technology being unfairly blamed, causing confusion and delays in resolving underlying issues.

The role of Data Governance in a Data Strategy

The goal is to create a data governance program that effectively supports the data strategy by prioritizing what is most important. Governance should establish a framework for accountable data stewardship, supporting tactical measures aimed at achieving higher-level strategic goals. It focuses on all three legs of the “people, processes, and technology” stool by providing a structured set of rules for employees, a process-oriented framework for setting priorities and addressing issues or opportunities, and a technological base to ensure data integrity and produce dependable outcomes at scale. When this framework is implemented- the benefits are evident, and the required momentum is also achieved.

Here’s how it helps:

Ensuring data quality and consistency

Data governance guarantees that data is reliable, accurate, and consistent across the organization. Defining data standards, policies, and procedures enables organizations to implement data quality controls, validation criteria, and cleansing processes. This ensures the data is fit for purpose and can be trusted for decision-making requirements, analysis, and reporting.

Facilitating Regulatory Compliance.

Data governance ensures that businesses consistently adhere to legal legislation and industry standards. It supports the development of data governance frameworks that adhere to legal standards, ensuring data protection, retention, and usage restrictions are followed. By adhering to regulatory requirements, organizations can avoid legal and financial penalties associated with noncompliance.

Enabling Data-Driven Decision Making

Data governance enables firms to leverage data as a strategic asset in decision-making. Data governance practices enable organizations to ensure that data is accurate, full, and accessible to key stakeholders. This provides reliable and timely insights to key stakeholders, enabling data-driven decision-making and further improving overall business performance.

Encouraging Cooperation and Trust in Data

Within a company, data governance fosters trust and cooperation amongst data stakeholders. Data governance promotes accountability and cross-functional cooperation by clearly outlining roles, duties, and data ownership. This promotes an organizational culture of data-driven growth with enhanced data sharing, and dismantled data silos.

Controlling Data Risks and Reducing Data-Related Problems

Thanks to data governance, businesses may successfully identify and manage data risks. By implementing data governance rules, organizations can proactively identify data-related issues such as data inconsistencies, data duplication, and data quality problems. This enables businesses to manage risks, take corrective action, and prevent any data-related problems from interfering with regular company operations.

Conclusion

In today’s data-driven environment, a well-structured data governance policy is not just good-to-have but a must-have for any organization. It is the blueprint that guarantees effective, safe, and value-adding data management for your business. In the absence of a strong data governance plan, the dangers of improper data management, security breaches, and lost opportunities are significant. Organizations must embrace data governance as a key component of their success to prosper in the digital era.

The Stepping Stones to Seamless PIM-MDM Adoption

The Stepping Stones to Seamless PIM-MDM Adoption

Businesses across industries are increasingly adopting solutions like Product Information Management (PIM) and Master Data Management (MDM) to precisely and efficiently manage, aggregate, and disseminate product data. These technologies are becoming essential for maintaining data accuracy, improving decision-making, and enhancing operational efficiency.

Despite the growing recognition of the benefits of PIM and MDM, many businesses still face significant challenges in implementing these solutions. These challenges often stem from a lack of awareness about their capabilities and complexities, leading to underutilization and inefficiencies. By addressing them proactively, businesses can fully leverage the potential of PIM and MDM solutions, driving better data management and operational outcomes.

PIM and MDM Integration Challenges and Solutions

Overcoming obstacles faced during PIM MDM (Product Information Management and Master Data Management) adoption require a strategic approach, starting with a comprehensive understanding of the organization’s existing data landscape and establishing clear objectives for PIM and MDM implementation. By tackling these challenges head-on, companies can harness the full potential of PIM and MDM solutions:

Ensuring Accurate Product Information

Managing your product data effectively is essential for a successful business. Product Information Management (PIM) helps businesses store and organize content, images, videos, and other digital assets in a centralized repository. This ensures that your product information is optimized and distributed across various marketplaces in line with relevant standards for each channel.

PIM integration relies heavily on accurate and consistent data. Inaccurate data can disrupt the integration process, leading to potential issues and decreased customer trust. Therefore, ensuring your data is clean and precise is vital before choosing a PIM solution for your company. This step will help you provide reliable information across all channels, enhancing the overall customer experience.

Complexity and Vastness of PIM & MDM solutions

Due to their advanced functionalities and intricate interfaces, PIM solutions can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially for new users. It’s important to recognize the distinction between a complex PIM solution and a feature-rich one. One of its main drawbacks is that extremely complicated product information management software can be challenging to operate. With an advanced PIM program, managing and updating information effectively might be challenging because of its high learning curve. Furthermore, the system’s intricacy may delay users’ access to the necessary information.

Invest in a PIM program that is easy to use, adaptable, and appropriate for your company. The best PIM solutions are streamlined and easy to use. They’re ideal for any business because they’re straightforward to use and comprehend.

Evaluating Cost and ROI of PIM Solutions for Brands

When selecting a Product Information Management (PIM) solution, brands should conduct a comprehensive cost analysis to determine the most suitable option without incurring unnecessary expenses. It is crucial to evaluate how effectively the PIM system can meet business needs cost-efficiently.

Brands must consider the overall return on investment (ROI) by assessing potential benefits such as streamlined operations, increased productivity, and improved data accuracy. A well-chosen PIM solution can lead to significant savings by reducing time to market and minimizing operational inefficiencies.

Businesses should prioritize cost-effective PIM solutions that offer measurable ROI by optimizing processes and supporting business growth, ensuring that investments are aligned with achieving strategic objectives without overspending on unnecessary features

Ensuring Data Trustworthiness

Ensuring data trustworthiness, accessibility, and accuracy is paramount in today’s corporate environment. To build trust in data and enhance customer satisfaction, businesses must implement robust backup solutions and stringent security measures.

Equitable and appropriate data access is also critical for regulatory compliance and competitive advantage. Different stakeholders require varying access levels with clearly defined access points, fostering an efficient and secure operational environment.

Maintaining its logical and physical integrity is increasingly important as data becomes more diverse, abundant, and significant. Regular testing of data integrity and ensuring compliance with industry and regulatory standards are essential practices. By prioritizing data integrity, companies can enhance their operational efficiency, build customer trust, and maintain a competitive edge in the market.

Conclusion

Unlike most IT initiatives, PIM and MDM solutions require a strong business focus, understanding, and enterprise-wide permeability to enhance operational processes and the caliber of product data. This is required to produce and utilize business cases to determine the precise returns on investment for a PIM or MDM implementation that works.

Evaluating the return on investment (ROI) for Product Information Management (PIM) and Master Data Management (MDM) solutions is crucial. This process helps pinpoint the areas where these solutions will have the most significant impact. Additionally, it offers a structured approach to dividing the project into manageable phases and focusing on areas that promise the highest returns.

PIM Implementation Best Practices

Effective product information management (PIM) is essential for firms dealing with large catalogs. Maintaining data consistency and upkeep across internal systems and sales channels can be challenging, often leading to inefficiencies and errors. However, these difficulties can be addressed with a robust Product Information Management (PIM) system.

A strong PIM system can streamline product information management, ensuring data consistency and accuracy across multiple platforms. For instance, companies implementing PIM systems report up to a 40% increase in data accuracy and a 30% reduction in time spent managing product data.

PIM systems facilitate the creation of compelling product narratives by integrating data from various sources and presenting it cohesively across different customer touchpoints.

The adoption of PIM systems is growing across various categories, including retail, manufacturing, and distribution. To fully leverage the benefits of PIM, businesses must adhere to best practices such as ensuring data completeness, maintaining data quality, and regular system audits. Adhering to these guidelines can help businesses unlock the full potential of their PIM systems, resulting in better product stories and improved customer engagement.

PIM Best Practices To Follow

PIM needs to be viewed from three main perspectives:

  • A technical platform
  • Manner of working
  • Business enabler

This is in addition to delving deeply into the scope, business needs, the impact of implementation on vendors, partners, and other external organizations, and how it cascades to the end customer. Businesses risk becoming lost if they overlook any one of these viewpoints. Product Information Management is a strategic choice that requires financial commitment to adhere to the growth and progress concept of continuous improvement.

1. Establish your requirements and implementation plans

If you intend to alter how you handle your product information, present a compelling business case, raise awareness of the need for improvement, and secure funding and resources to support the change.

Create a list of PIM criteria, such as the following, before thinking about PIM software:

  • Operating on the cloud
  • Providing mass editing capabilities
  • Real collaboration
  • Robust digital asset management system
  • Using AI and machine learning

2. Define roles and responsibilities

Working together on product content directly within the PIM system can greatly accelerate operations and remove content issues. Depending on your company’s needs, the creation of product content may benefit from the involvement of the marketing department, eCommerce management, or even outside partners.

Because of this, you must select a PIM system that allows you to create many roles with varying levels of access without taking unneeded risks. These consist of the read-only, admin, product manager, and publisher access levels, each with default rights.

3. Standardizing Product Data with a Centralized PIM System

Businesses can streamline and standardize data management by establishing a single, centralized repository for product information. This approach provides a unified view for searching, updating, and publishing product material across multiple channels. Such a system allows the creation of validation rules, ensuring a uniform, industry-standard format for product attributes and categories.

Moreover, using a centralized PIM system helps eliminate the fragmentation of product data across various tools and platforms. According to Ventana Research, 56% of businesses maintain more than five systems holding product data, often resulting in inconsistent data formats and disjointed metadata. A streamlined approach minimizes human error and optimizes time to market, offering a competitive edge in product management and enhancing cross-sell and upsell potential.

4. Data integration is crucial

The majority of businesses utilize more than five systems that hold product data. They must all be integrated to create a single, unified set of data. Given these conditions, it is not unexpected that one of the main justifications for centrally handling product material in a PIM system is data integration.

The greatest PIM supplier currently offers dozens of connectors that are easily accessible. Sources of incoming data may include:

  • ERP system
  • Excel files/Spreadsheets
  • Custom-built systems and platforms

5. Enhancing customer experience with PIM

By integrating PIM capabilities, businesses can significantly enhance customer experience. A B2B Marketing/Earnest poll revealed that 83% of participants would recommend a company to others after a positive experience, and 96% of respondents stated customer experience would impact whether they would make another purchase. With a PIM platform, companies can develop and manage a comprehensive body of material for each product at various customer journey stages. This facilitates multichannel sales and addresses potential obstacles, allowing businesses to connect with customers directly and ensure accurate and compelling product information. By prioritizing product information, PIM helps create a more customer-centric experience, aligning with placing the customer at the center of marketing and sales decisions.

6. Fostering Cultural Transformation and Capturing Your PIM Vision

Business evolution lies at the heart of Product Information Management (PIM), which involves scaling, adjusting, and growing the organization, along with making bold decisions like data quality improvement and process revamping. A PIM vision should include initiatives such as modernizing outdated processes, rethinking business procedures, implementing new assortment strategies, and exploring new syndication channels.

Additionally, fostering cultural transformation within the organization is essential. Employees, contractors, and vendors may not be fully aware of the impact of modernizing antiquated processes and improving collaboration on productivity, accuracy, and work speed. Leaders should prioritize ongoing workshops, inductions, and training to encourage understanding and commitment to the organization’s evolving business vision.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a high-volume shop or just starting your online business, implementing these PIM best practices can give you a competitive edge, increase efficiency, and increase online sales. Understanding that your product knowledge is your genuine “asset,” and sales channels serve as the asset’s ultimate test. To put it another way, knowledge about your products is just as helpful as the actual products. PIM best practices also ensure that.

Navigating Implementation Challenges: Key Learnings, Takeaways and Solutions

By Samarth Mehta, GM, India & Head of MDM Solutions, ThoughtSpark

Hello everyone,

I was recently a part of an esteemed panel at the Syndigo Partner Kick Off 2024 in Chicago, where we delved into achieving success with Syndigo at customers. During the discussion, some very interesting questions were raised that I believe are important for all of us to address. Here’s my take on those questions.

What are the factors contributing to Success and Future Business Opportunities?
There are quite a lot of factors involved in winning a deal, but one of the fundamental keys is gaining the trust and confidence of the customer. To achieve this, three key areas that a System Integrator (SI) should focus on are Industry expertise, Domain knowledge (MDM), and Product expertise.

To do these, I think the entire sales process needs to be Consultative, ensuring that you’re talking about the Problems and the Solutions for the customer rather than filling them with MDM fluff goes a long way. It’s important to talk about their industry and vertical, provide relevant examples and talk about how the business would benefit from the overall solution.

Additionally, demonstrating expertise in the product plays a significant role. Leveraging customer data, understanding their unique needs, and customizing a product demo accordingly helps a lot.

Finally, a very basic but crucial thing, being responsive and providing clear, timely communication throughout the sales process, is very important. Syndigo has templates for Scoping & Estimations that can highly standardize proposal building. I believe it is important to respond on time, with clarity & providing the right context.

Why Syndigo? How did Syndigo solve your customer’s business issues?
Flexibility & Rapid Time-to-Value: Syndigo’s standout strength, according to me, is the flexibility & the rapid time-to-value of the Solution which allows businesses to derive tangible benefits without long implementation periods.

Out of the box solutions: With PIM Standard and Professional, Syndigo offers a range of out-of-the-box solutions. These solutions come with various industry-specific capabilities built-in, making them ideal accelerators for large enterprises while also seamlessly fitting smaller enterprises in their current operational state.

Business Rule & Workflow Engine: The powerful Business Rules & Workflow engines help enterprises in configuring process & rules. This capability ensures that businesses can align the system with their unique operational workflows and requirements.

App Development: Enterprises often face unique challenges that require additional UIs or configurations to be built on top of the product. Syndigo’s App Development framework empowers businesses to build end-to-end customer solutions, addressing these specific needs.

In conclusion, Syndigo stands out due to its flexibility, out-of-the-box solutions, robust business rule & workflow engines, and comprehensive app development framework.

How do you handle scenarios when a customer has a requirement or use case that does not confirm or align with the known best practices or patterns?

It is important to understand the customer’s mindset. The customer or their IT team may come from a background of custom software and therefore they believe in certain specific implementation methods.

When the use-cases do not align, the following are my suggestions:

  • Propose Alternative Solutions: Explain objectively how a different solution can address the problem.
  • Educate the Customer: Present the pros and cons of the solution to help the customer make an informed decision. I often use the Harvey Ball comparison for clarity.
  • Include the Syndigo Team: Keeping the Syndigo team informed about the use case and proposed solutions is essential for alignment and collaboration.

What challenges did you face during your implementation journey and how did you help overcome them?

Below is the list of challenges in the order in which I think they are:

Scoping the Project:
I’ve been involved in numerous implementations over the last decade, and I believe many major initiatives succeed or fail before the project even begins. One of the biggest risks lies in the gap between the customer expectations and the defined scope outlined in the Statement of Work (SoW). The best approach is to ensure that project objectives, milestones, and deliverables are clearly defined and communicated right from the project kickoff.

Customer Readiness:
I’ve observed that customers often underestimate the level of commitment required from their end to execute an implementation project successfully. Involvement from both the Business and the IT teams is crucial right from the very start. Sometimes, business stakeholders already have a packed schedule, leading to less productive workshops and communication gaps. I believe it’s the System Integrator’s responsibility to set the right expectations regarding time, deliverables, and other requirements.

Initial Load & Integrations:
This is an area where I commonly see challenges among most customers. As one of my favorite talk show hosts used to say, “How Hard Can It Be?”—right before a disaster strikes. This is exactly the approach I’ve seen IT teams take when loading data into the system and building integrations between different systems. My recommendation is always to engage in serious conversations about these topics early on. The only way to mitigate the risk is to start addressing these challenges as soon as possible.

These are my thoughts on the questions we had discussed during the panel discussion at the KickOff, and I’m glad we had the chance to tackle some of the key challenges and opportunities in the current MDM landscape.


Samarth Mehta

Samarth Mehta is the General Manager for India and Head of MDM Solutions at ThoughtSpark. Backed by a long-standing Syndigo experience, Product has always been his primary focus and he has been implementing Syndigo projects since 2014. Samarth thoroughly enjoys solving customer problems, constantly sharing and expanding on product expertise and delivering impeccable product demos!

About ThoughtSpark

ThoughtSpark is your go-to enabler in the Syndigo ecosystem, committed to enabling partner-centric sales and go to market strategies, in addition to implementation services. ThoughtSpark walks hand in hand, sharing insights, knowledge, and expertise to fuel its partner’s journey. Our ultimate mission is to enable the growth and unparalleled success of System Integrators across the Syndigo ecosystem.

Syndigo PIM & MDM Product Roundup 2023

By Amit Rai, President, ThoughtSpark

January was abuzz with 2023 round-ups, with some very interesting takes on product highlights, business updates. I’m aware I’m a bit late, but let’s attribute it to all the kick-offs I had to attend last month. It has gotten so crazy that we’ve decided to attempt the 2025 kick-offs in December 2024, aiming to hit the ground running next year. Excuses aside, here I am, with my take on what the year meant for the Syndigo PIM / MDM platform.  

In a nutshell, 2023 was another foundational year in the journey of this product. Innovation is at the heart of Syndigo’s strategy, and in more ways than you can imagine, they used the last year to set themselves up for a groundbreaking 2024. Thematically, the main areas of Product investments that I’m gonna cover today are PXM, MDM, AI, and UX. There are too many acronyms. Let’s expand on each and gain deeper insights into these areas. 

First, PXM. There are different schools of thought across the industry. One claims that PIM has now expanded to include Syndication, experiences, and Digital Shelf Analytics while the other calls this combination, PXM. Regardless of what acronym you prefer using, Syndigo, with the breadth of its product portfolio, is there to solve these use cases and be a leading PXM (I am from the second school of thought) player. Not many can claim to offer the entire breadth of solutions and even Syndigo would fall short, if they did not make the experience zing. Hence, the great focus on seamless integration of the offerings to present a one-stop answer to PXM – Syndigo. 

Second, MDM. Syndigo has long played in the MDM space. They’ve been leaders in the Gartner Magic Quadrant. It is one of the few products that does justice to both PIM and MDM. However, with PIM and Syndication being the front-runners, it appears that MDM had taken a back seat in the preceding year. In the latter half of 2023, however, MDM resurfaced as a key focus area. The strategy was to further strengthen the B2B customer master capabilities and at the same time, create a good B2C foundation. B2C customer solution is a key strategic area for 2024 as well, as stated by Simon, the CEO at Syndigo as well as Nikhil, the SVP of Product at Syndigo. As more and more businesses look to create unique Product and Customer experiences, Syndigo is ready to lead the market. In the coming months, they are set to complete their B2C master offering and merge their already industry-leading Digital Shelf Shopper Analytics with B2C to provide a truly unique offering to their customers. 

Third, AI Was there anyone who didn’t get caught up in the buzz and engagement with AI last year? At ThoughtSpark, we use Clickup for task management, Freshsales for CRM, Pitch for presentations, among others. I promise you, there is an AI module in each of these. I also promise you, nobody in my organisation utilises the AI modules in these solutions. I do though. But just to have fun with what it does. Not because any of it impacts my day-to-day work. But Syndigo started leveraging AI a while ago. They already have ML based matching for a couple of years now. However, 2023 was a year they pivoted to strategically leveraging AI. The theme was to foundationally build the solutions with AI at its core to give maximum value to end users – either by simplifying what they do or by automating and solving critical business problems for them – like OpenAI based content generation, Image analytics, Sentiment analysis, Content Moderation, to name a fe. There is now a dedicated AI product & engineering team focused on innovating around AI in this space. Can’t wait to see the robust AI roadmap for 2024 become a reality soon. 

Lastly, the UX. User experience was at the core of every story, every feature, every use case. There was a huge focus on ease of use, simplicity as well as self-serviceability. The user interfaces have become very persona-driven and intuitive based on how each user in their specific role interacts with the solution. Unlike a lot of other light weight solutions that claim simplicity, Syndigo has the ability to solve from very simple use cases to the most complex business scenarios across industry verticals. If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said that an MDM system cannot have simple UIs and definitely cannot be self-serviceable. However, Syndigo has made huge strides in this area. User experience is now very contextual, irrespective of the complexity.  
 
And simplicity remains a continued focus for 2024 as well, as is evident with the announcement of the launch of a lighter version of PIM. I believe, with a light easy PIM complementing their industry leading Syndication and Digital Experience solutions, Syndigo will position itself in a league of its own. Bye Bye Salsifys and Akeneos of the world. 
 
I recently attended the 2024 Syndigo Partner Kick-off event, where the leadership reiterated the strategic focus areas for 2024 – Continuing to lead the PXM market, Leveraging AI as enabler, enhancing customer domain for better consumer experience and focus on usability and UX. Clearly, 2023 was a building base to their long-term strategy and it is exciting to see them continue to double down on the areas they placed their bets on, months ago. These moves will shape up the industry in the coming years, and it is gonna be an interesting space to keep an eye on. Watch Out! 


Amit Rai

Amit Rai is the President at ThoughtSpark. With strong ideas on everything Data, AI and Tech, Amit loves to experiment, analyze, research and learn, thought-leading everyday. With nearly 15 years of experience in the Syndigo ecosystem, it was apt for Amit to do the 2023 Syndigo round-up.

About ThoughtSpark

ThoughtSpark is your go-to enabler in the Syndigo ecosystem, committed to enabling partner-centric sales and go to market strategies, in addition to implementation services. ThoughtSpark walks hand in hand, sharing insights, knowledge, and expertise to fuel its partner’s journey. Our ultimate mission is to enable the growth and unparalleled success of System Integrators across the Syndigo ecosystem.