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What is Product Information Management?

M. McGee
M. McGee

Product information management is a process through which all information relating to a product is kept within a single database. This information can be anything from technical schematics to pre-written catalog blurbs, but the primary focus of most product information management systems is marketing. Regardless of the distribution channel used, any information related to using or selling the product can be found in a single database. This allows cross-channel marketing to employ similar styles, languages, and motifs.

A product information management system is a type of enterprise content management. These are information storage systems that allow multiple users to access, create, and edit information simultaneously and in real time. Other types of enterprise content management include corporate document storage systems and content management platforms, such as the Joomla® web system.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

These systems work best in areas where there are multiple groups that need simultaneous access to information. The need for basic content management stems from an increasing tendency among businesses to have large operation centers in multiple areas. Whether by design or through restructuring, such as after a merger, content management allows these different areas to communicate freely without having to be in close physical proximity.

Most product information management systems work along similar lines. They are front-end user access points to an internal database such as Oracle or MySQL. This means that they don’t store the information they contain—a standard corporate database does that. They simply allow users a less technical means for entering information. This reduces the training required for non-technical employees and makes the system easier for everyone to use.

Due to the standardized databases they use, it is easy to connect the product information management databases into more conventional marketing databases. These other databases may contain sales records, account numbers, or other specific sales information. By combining the information contained in the two databases, it is possible to preselect clients that may be interested in a new or existing product based on earlier sales.

Most product information management databases contain information that is meant for the public. This information usually centers on marketing and sales information, product descriptions, and user manuals. Since the information is public, the databases are often shared between companies. With product information available to outside vendors, it is easier to make compatible products or find manufactures for specialized components.

Another big advantage of product information systems is consistency in advertising. Different departments that advertise to different channels, such as retail and corporate, can share marketing information with one another. Instead of designing their own campaigns, they can share information, ensuring that advertising elements will remain the same across the various channels. This consistency improves product awareness should a consumer encounter the product outside of the channel he is familiar with.

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