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Product information management architecture

When you want to build a house, it isn’t wise to simply cement together some bricks to build the walls, put on a roof and then decide how you want to divide up the useable space inside. Your building is flimsy and doesn’t even have any foundations. It’s not fit for purpose. It’s also likely to need much costly remedial work as problems quickly emerge.

That’s why we employ architects. The same principle applies to product data management. The best PIM solution in the world won’t solve your problems without a solid, fit for purpose data architecture to support your infrastructure. Below, we look at the key information you need to know about data architecture in relation to product data management. 

What is data architecture?

Like a well-designed and constructed building, your organisation’s data infrastructure needs sound foundations, which is where data architecture plays its role. Information architecture design is the science (or art!) art of making sense of the best way to organise and label product data content to enhance its usability.

Data architecture is the framework prepared for the infrastructure to support your data strategy. The primary objective is to give a crystal-clear overview of how an organisation manages its data – how it is acquired, moved about, stored, secured, verified, approved, and accessed. So, the bottom line is, data architecture needs to be at the centre of planning to deploy a satisfactory data strategy. The data architecture of a company can be likened to the moves of a chess piece, as it determines the possible actions that the company can take on the board.

What is product information management architecture?

If you are planning on implementing a major system like an MDM or PIM solution, you will almost certainly need to overhaul your data management system, and that requires developing a suitable structure. You need to establish who is going to talk to whom. For example, a product manager might need to talk to suppliers, to interact with warehouse people, with the customer, and so on. You may also need to clarify the nature of communication flows within your company: are they multi-directional? bi-directional? From where to where, and who to whom?

The specialist concerned with this area is the data architect. They start by carrying out an in-depth analysis into all high-level business interactions, determining how, when, and why they communicate. From this basis, the data architect can create an Enterprise Information Model based on satisfying the needs of the client across all areas involved in using and managing product data.

The role of logical data modelling

Data modelling is key to effective architecture. Basically, it refers to the process of developing a visual representation of an information system (or parts of it) to clarify the connections between key data points, structures, and systems. Naturally, that requires a high-level understanding of how systems interact together, what kinds of interfaces they use and how data flows  across the systems. However, what is often underestimated is how important it is to understand the business, understand its requirements and understand its strategic objectives. Only with that clarity can we convert those requirements into suitable data models.

Overlaid on that logical data model is the enterprise information management system, which exists to enhance the functions of an organisation’s business processes by integration. It can amalgamate legacy applications and enable significant operations and cost savings. Modern EIM systems are more advanced than legacy systems in terms of their enhanced capabilities – they are self-helping, self-transactional, and highly adaptable to all circumstances, be they general or specialist.

How important is data architecture for product information management?

Data Architects are technology-agnostic, so are unbiased towards the use of any specific technologies to solve business challenges. They operate at a higher, more organisation-wide level, and use their discovery to create a detailed, business-function-specific conceptual model. In relation to products, that means a conceptual model specific to what that business sells – descriptions, dimensions, specifications and so on. From that basis, the architect can then liaise with the product manager to discover what they need at specific product attribute level – name, description, weight, colours, legal and regulatory requirements and so forth.

Clearly, as the data connected to products becomes more voluminous and complex, achieving the above goals becomes more challenging. Product teams may end up creating confusing and poorly organized product data sets, whose information, content, and features can overwhelm users. The purpose of Information architecture is to solve this potential problem. 

So, in a nutshell, product data architecture is a discipline which helps to organise how data related to processes around product are structured to make it ‘holistically’ understandable.

Start with Data and your data architecture needs

At Start with Data, we have built up our expertise in giving the best wrap-around PIM consultancy service to those clients wanting advice on their PIM and those looking to implement a PIM solution for their product data. Among our experts, we deploy data architects to develop the optimum model for your specific needs. Alongside the strong product information taxonomies we develop, we can create one shared environment. Where your architecture provides the underpinnings not only for creating an excellent customer experience, but for creating a holistic data management approach, with quality at its core.

Get in touch and let’s talk in more depth about how we can solve your data architecture issues.

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