07 February 2014

PIM and the consumerization of enterprise software

We have recently noted a very strong trend toward the consumerization of enterprise software. It seems strange indeed that we, in our private lives, find ourselves empowered by brilliant apps that solve real problems – but do not have the same empowerment in our workplace.

These brilliant apps that we use privately not only provide great functionality and are fun to use, they are also beautifully and smartly designed. On top of that, they simply work just the way you expect them to work, and do not require any reading of manuals or hours of classroom training. And these apps can often run on any device.

But when you show up at work, you find yourself stuck in rigid enterprise software from a bygone era where your ability to be creative and excel at your work is narrowed down because of the use of complex and inefficient applications that require a lot of learning before you become efficient. On top of that, any changes to this setup is often made difficult because of different IT policies.

The trend of consumerization of enterprise software is a revolution driven by users. This force is changing organizations, because people are demanding and using apps that are enabling them in their day-to-day work, reducing complexity. And there is finally a gradual shift in IT policies to embrace simplicity and user-friendliness.

The Product Information Management (PIM) software industry is not escaping this trend. PIM has traditionally been a bastion of the old school type of enterprise software, but by now, the first question we have to ask ourselves is: ” how do I make the day-to-day work of the end user of my software an easy, simple, effective and fun experience?” At the end of the day, we have to enable people in all situations of life with the software we develop.

As marketers all over the world need to deal with an increasing number of markets, channels and products, the demands for simplicity in enterprise software and smart and intuitive ease-of-use have clearly increased in the past years. But with the exploding multi-channel retailing market and a stronger focus on marketing and sales, we now must provide a better user experience and app-like empowerment for those who work with our software daily.

A new generation of PIM software is now available in the enterprise software market. These new PIM solutions are focused on making the daily work as focused and easy as possible – providing great functionality and smart design in a powerful package that is easy to use. With little or no learning curve for using the software, product-selling companies and their staff can focus on their products and enriching these with great stories, not on the difficulty of running a rigid software that squeezes out data in a fixed format.

Also, with better flexibility, overview and ease-of-use throughout the PIM process (supplying, enriching, and publishing product information) you not only open up for creativity and rich content, you can actually focus on providing your customers with perfect and customized product information that is adapted to each of your sales channel.

Operating in a fast-moving retailing business is by now a complex task, but by enabling the easy flow of product information and marketing with the new generation of PIM software that gives you a great user experience and removes rigid user obstacles, the future looks bright.