Information Supply Chain
In my research with marketing practitioners, I investigate various processes around the management of marketing information and all relevant digital assets – which process name is most relevant to a company depends on Marketing’s process maturity which I see moving through these 5 phases over time:
- Chaotic. Neophyte marketers focus on their product so the first important information management process is Product Information Management (PIM) – ensuring all company output shows the most recent product data (specifications, pricing, offers, use cases, and so on).
- Reactive. The added complexity of digital marketing and multi-channel fulfillment programs requires a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system – many firms must combine multiple content assets systems into a more comprehensive asset database. IT-centric projects are named Master Data Management while marketers prefer a title like Universal Content Management or Hub.
- Stable. DAM/PIM becomes part of a greater Brand Content Management (BCM) process when brand governance across multiple channels (digital channels plus external channels such as resellers) is needed. The need to manage assets AND better plan/budget for all Marketing results in a more holistic/operational Marketing Resource Management process, which may include BCM.
- Proactive. When marketing’s role inevitably matures from supporting sales transactions to ensuring a full customer experience, focus switches to attribution analytics: identifying exactly where and how marketing is contributing to revenue success.
- Predictive. The most advanced marketers have digital assets managed in the MRM system and combined with other business data, so that a CMO can monitor the performance of all marketing programs, campaigns and asset projects.
The software vendors around these processes are all challenged to promote their benefits because the success of their messaging depends on where their potential buyer is the above model. Some market beyond their product capabilities using thought leadership marketing and others sometimes sell below their full capabilities in a modular fashion to get their foot in the door. I often hear these phrases in vendor briefings:
- “Well, we are quite a bit more than just a DAM solution”
- “We offer a DAM and a PIM module, most of our customers use us for both”
- “We have a PIM that helps our clients to provide a product experience”
- “Our system is really an MRM solution, but this year, most companies are just looking for DAM”.
I also work with a list of other vendors outside of marketing whose value proposition is more about what can be done with the content. A company like Empolis stresses the application of artificial intelligence to the content-data in order to accelerate the solving of support problems by call centers and service teams. The vendor Quanos has content solutions that can automatically create all those important accompanying documents for many products, such as instruction documents, data sheets and catalogues.
Another way of representing the management of information/data is the supply chain metaphor, where The Information Supply Chain (ISCM) would represent a chain of connected software solutions in parallel with the classic Supply Chain concept. The term ISCM was actually coined by the chief analyst, Temel Kahyaoglu, of an organisation called The Group of Analysts (TGOA), way back in 2008 here in Germany.
That makes sense because this area of software technology is heavy with German, Austrian and Swiss vendors successful with their products on a global basis. TGOA’s ISCM concept splits the processes, and resulting product categories, into: Information Procurement: Information Preparation; and Information Distribution.
TGOA also had several innovative ideas about how to represent products and services with their concept of the Market Performance Wheel. I am interested in following these methodologies further and will be working with Temel and TGOA now to further develop the concept as they relaunch their business anew. This is in addition to my work with Research in Action, B2B Marketing and other clients.
So … WATCH THIS SPACE.
Always Keeping You Informed ! Peter