In times of advancing digitalization and the enormous increase in online sales, the names PIM (Product Information Management) and DAM (Digital Asset Management) are being used more frequently.
Both systems serve for the storage, administration, and extraction of digital content. However, the distinction between the functionalities of the two systems is not always clear, partly because discussions on whether one system can replace the other are not abating.
Therefore, you should always keep in mind that both systems pursue different goals and develop their strengths in different application scenarios.
What is a PIM System?
In a PIM system, the focus is clearly on the product.
It stores and manages all marketing relevant product data and information in a database and is usually used by marketing departments and product managers.
A PIM system also controls how this data and information is routed through the company’s distribution and sales channels. These channels can be online shops, social media, catalogs, but also customers, dealers, and service providers.
The goal of a PIM system is always to guarantee a single source of truth. This means, that all product information and data are passed on to the appropriate channels in the best quality, consistent, and correct.
What is a DAM System?
A DAM system manages all types of digital media, also called assets, without having to have a direct reference to the product. These can be images, videos, documents, but also finished catalogs or presentations.
These media can be enriched with metadata as required. This is information that describes the asset in more detail to ensure that it can be found more quickly. DAM systems are used by marketing or sales departments to route this content into the above channels.
Both systems have as their overriding goal the diversion of digital content into marketing and sales channels and serve to promote digitization within a company. There is no way around these systems to improve and support processes related to product data management or digital content.
The market for PIM and DAM systems is vast and there are also systems on the market that want to serve both areas with the all-in-one approach.
An all-in-one is a complete solution that combines several business processes in one software. The best-of-breed approach, on the other hand, combines various unique solutions from different manufacturers to optimally support the individual business processes with one system.
As part of the digitization strategy, companies can thus choose between these two approaches.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of each solution?
With the all-in-one solution, no interface to the respective other system is necessary, thus reducing the effort involved in integrating the solution. Besides, these systems offer a uniform “look & feel” and therefore ensure better user acceptance.
The last positive aspect is that only one technology provider needs to be controlled. The serious negative element of the solution is the often insufficient functionality. Usually, not all aspects of a DAM system can be served, since the focus is very often on product-specific content. A further disadvantage is a fact that functionality can only be exchanged at great expense. This usually represents a hurdle to replace individual functions or the entire system with other solutions.
The best-of-breed solution, however, provides the best option available on the market for each area of application and thus significantly reduces the number of compromises that have to be made when introducing a system. In contrast to the all-in-one solution, these systems can also be exchanged retrospectively, so that the latest and most innovative solution can always be used. Also, the requirements and processes of the company can be individually addressed, and the most suitable solution can be implemented.
This ensures that the processes are better supported and that the requirements are almost one hundred percent met or even exceeded. The disadvantages of this solution are that several technology providers must be controlled. And if the individual solutions have not been coordinated during implementation, there is often no uniform “look & feel” possible.
Which approach is suitable for whom?
It is easy to recommend which solution we think should be preferred. Based on our many years of experience in this environment, we recommend the best-of-breed solution to store and manage product and media data as well as digital content. Although all-in-one systems offer a more extensive range of functions at first glance, our experience has shown that they cannot be recommended for long-term planning, as they do not satisfy the companies/users.
The reason for that: Processes cannot be served sufficiently. Through continuous optimization, the need for several suitable individual solutions is growing. As a result, companies that have introduced the all-in-one approach have often realized that the best-of-breed solution is better suited to their needs and have integrated this approach.
Since most companies in the manufacturing, consumer products, distribution, and retail industries have extensive data and content requirements, they likely need both a PIM and a DAM solution to successfully manage their complex digital product data according to their individual needs.
About the author:
hoerl Information Management is specialized in product data management, media data management, and database publishing.