“Automation is the key to effective Product Information Management.”

blog

June 21, 2024

Andrew Litynskyj, Global Alliance Director for SAP at inriver, looks at the the trends keeping PIM systems at the cutting edge of commerce.

Modern-day PIM systems have become an integral part of traditional sales, service, and marketing functions.”

Product Information Management (PIM) systems make managing product information easier and more efficient.

But with technological leaps putting businesses under more pressure to stay agile and nimble, what can businesses expect from the future of PIM solutions?

We sat down with Andrew Litynskyj, Global Alliance Director for SAP at inriver, to discover more about the emerging trends helping keep PIM systems at the cutting edge.

Andrew Litynskyj

Hi Andrew. A large part of your day-to-day role is spent working closely with SAP. Can you tell us what that entails and what a typical day looks like? 

Sure! As the Global Alliance Director for SAP here at inriver, I make sure SAP executives, product developers, go-to-market personnel, and application sellers fully understand the value proposition of the inriver PIM, particularly how it bridges upstream and downstream systems to deliver fantastic customer experiences. Typically, I spend 90% of my time working with SAP Customer Experience sellers in North America and EMEA, helping them develop business opportunities for their multi-channel prospects and customers. 

I work with fantastic people worldwide. That’s the most enjoyable part of my job. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to inriver? 

I have over 35 years of experience in the industry, working as a technology sales executive and a partner and alliance leader. At different stages of my career, I have overseen sales and delivery of systems in manufacturing, wholesale and retail dealership sales, service, and marketing, working at businesses like Oracle, Siebel Systems, SAP, and IBM Consulting. It was actually a friend and former colleague from IBM Consulting who asked me to join the newly formed inriver Partner and Alliance team in 2021. 

Putting your network to work! I wanted to ask you about automation and why you, given your vast experience, think it’s essential PIM systems embrace automation? 

Today, the demand for product information is expanding exponentially, driven by customers, brands, and now government regulators. This means businesses can find managing, distributing, and updating product information challenging without innovative and time-saving tools. When you think about the journey of a single product, the amount of work going on in the background is incredible. That single product requires data modeling for various digital endpoints, enrichment with text and images to maximize selling opportunities, and distribution to numerous customer-facing systems like commerce, sales, service, and marketing, as well as third-party marketplaces, retailers, and distributors. Now multiply that by thousands or even millions of SKUs within a single product catalog and the workload quickly becomes too difficult to manage.  

Automation is the key to managing all this information more effectively. The more automation a PIM system uses, the more effective a business’s product information management will be, therefore the more market share it stands to gain. 

In one of your LinkedIn articles you say, “As technology advances, it’s becoming increasingly vital for businesses to become more agile and nimble in managing product information.” Can you talk a little bit more about that?  

Of course. One of the great things about a PIM is that it acts as a single source of truth for product information, helping a business’s core functions save time accessing, storing, and distributing information. But with the major advances that have taken place in AI, and with the advent of MACH (microservices, API-first, cloud-native, and headless) architectures over the past couple of years, a good PIM system isn’t just about being time-saving anymore. It’s now about how agile, intuitive, and responsive they can be when faced with the fast-changing landscapes businesses need to adapt to today.  

For example, today we can see businesses building composable enterprises by bridging upstream product data sources with downstream customer-facing interfaces. That’s making it easier to bring new products to market, regardless of the purchasing channel. This approach can offer businesses significant advantages across a range of different functions, particularly with intuitive PIM systems that facilitate this seamless way of doing things at their core. 

There’s a perception that PIM systems are designed primarily for e-commerce functions. Is that true? 

The streamlining of product information flows that PIM systems deliver means they serve many more functions than those systems that cater only to e-commerce. This is especially true of those PIM systems that come with digital shelf analytics and syndication, like the inriver solution.

For example, a good PIM can improve the effectiveness of marketing campaigns by providing specific breakdowns of data on how well products are performing, providing warranty and technical documentation through post-sale customer support, and even empowering a company’s recycling and reuse scheme through after-sales strategies. So while a PIM can be a real boost for e-commerce, modern-day PIM systems can do so much more as they become an integral part of traditional sales, service, and marketing functions. A single source of truth with consistent information regardless of customer interaction throughout a product’s life cycle. 

So PIM solutions offer more than just e-commerce support. What are some of the key features and capabilities you see PIM systems developing over the coming years that will broaden their range of applications? 

I think that the most in-demand PIM features in the coming years will be related to speed, scalability, globalization, and streamlining business processes. For example, we are already seeing a growing demand for more generative AI to be incorporated, making it easier to automate and streamline the management and even creation of product data, like product descriptions. 

I also think we’ll see more flexible MACH architecture being included that can quickly respond to changing market dynamics and expectations. If businesses need a new tech capability, MACH-aligned software makes it easier for them to add a new API rather than overhaul their entire stack. 

I think there’s also the issue of data quality becoming a major factor behind PIM development. The way product information is searched for on today’s search engines is beginning to change, and I think AI is going to result in big shifts in this area. 

Is it fair to say you think AI is going to lead to significant leaps forward in how PIM systems work? 

Absolutely. We’re only beginning to touch the sides of what an AI can bring to a PIM and the various optimizations it can offer. While I don’t think the search engines we use today will be replaced completely, AI will be able to complement them in new and innovative ways, and that will have a huge impact on how we interact with products on the market. 

Natural language processing, for instance, can better understand the context of a user’s searches, leading to more accurate results. Conversational searches through chatbots and virtual assistants, with dynamic query refinement, can lead to more accurate results. Then there are also features like voice recognition that can make the user experience easier, too. In other words, once fully integrated and optimized, AI will bring lots of enhancements to how PIM solutions function – and that’s an exciting prospect. 

And finally, how is inriver using AI to stand out? 

One of the things I really like about the inriver PIM is how we use AI technology to engage with customers who digitally engage, sell, and service products regardless of where they are sold. We have a composable platform that comes with product monitoring insights that support organic enrichment loops of product data. This results in continuous learning and optimization, which is a real bonus to businesses involved in omnichannel selling. 

Thanks for your time, Andrew! 

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