The digitalization journey of product information management

Loris Battistello

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

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Abstract

Customers nowadays gather information about products online, regardless of whether they will ultimately purchase the product online or in-store, expecting to find high-quality information that helps them select the products that meet their requirements. Following this trend, companies are digitalising their marketing processes so as to provide consistent and accurate product information in the form of technical specifications, images, videos and so on. Such product information is offered via a variety of channels, such as webpages, mobiles/cell phones, online stores and printed catalogues. In this context, ensuring information quality, and more specifically, its consistency across such systems, can be challenging. In fact, a 2018 survey conducted by Ventana revealed that only 16 percent of organisations trust their existing product information. To deal with the challenges of managing product information meant for a variety of sales channels, companies are increasingly turning to product information management systems (PIMSs). A PIMS is an IT system designed for the central management of product information across different departments, such as sales, marketing and product development—in short, customer-oriented product information. Responding to the pressing needs from practice and building a theoretical understanding, this thesis explores how manufacturers can manage their product information by providing a proposal framework for digitalisation and central management of product information, which is tested through a study of the digital transformation process of a multinational company. The results show that companies can centralise the management of digital product information through three sequential phases: simplification, preparation and implementation. First, and following the logic of ‘simplify before automating’, companies need to consider their product variety and implement product description standards; second, they need to prepare the organisation for the digital transformation process in which product information management becomes centralised; and third, the central management of digital product information should be accomplished with the implementation of an IT system like a PIMS. Each phase involves a number of challenges, which have only received limited attention the in the literature. The overall purpose of this thesis is to provide a better understanding of such challenges and offer some guidelines for addressing them. Thereby, this thesis provides insights that are relevant for both academics and practitioners. For future product information management research, the thesis offers an overview of the processes and challenges involved in the three phases and lays a foundation for future studies. For practice, the thesis provides guidelines for how to implement centralised product information management and an overview of the pitfalls to avoid.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages142
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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