Insights on Data Quality and the Chicago River 


March 27, 2023

In his new blog series "Powering a sustainable future", inriver CEO Niels Stenfeldt takes inspiration from the Chicago River.

Reflecting on the many experiences I have had as a technology leader throughout my career, I can genuinely say that I have never been more optimistic about the role technology can play in building a better future for our businesses and our planet. It has been a whirlwind six months at inriver, and the more I speak with peers across the industry, the more I realize how many thoughts and ideas I have to share about creating this brighter future together. This is why I decided to start a new blog series about the trajectory of the product information management (PIM) industry and its critical function in powering a more sustainable future. 

In this series, I will share my thoughts on the PIM industry, its direction, the latest trends and innovations, and most importantly how brands can be leaders and first movers at this exciting time. Whether you are a business owner, a marketer, or just someone who is interested in the future of e-commerce, I hope you will find this series informative and thought-provoking. My first post is inspired by a reflection I had during my time visiting the Chicago inriver office last week. 

Do your products have the data they need to go circular?

Read the latest inriver ebook “The Circular Product Journey” to find out.

Greetings from Chicago

Last week I was in Chicago and during an informal office lunch Q&A I shared the feedback we received from our attendance at the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit in Orlando. We were thrilled to see the amount of interest in our new breed of PIM, which delivers value through our cloud-native scalable product data model, pre-flight validation, and integrated digital shelf analytic capabilities. This proves the importance of having the correct flow of data, but even more so, having the correct digital twin of the product data across the entire product journey. 

Reversing the flow of the Chicago River 

Speaking of flows, every time I cross the Chicago River, I am reminded of how the flow of this river was reversed in the early 1900s to address serious public health concerns. The river was the primary receptacle for the city’s sewage and industrial waste, leading to outbreaks of waterborne diseases and public health hazards.  

To address this issue, the city of Chicago began constructing the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal in 1892, which would divert the city’s wastewater away from Lake Michigan and into the Illinois River, ultimately leading to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The project was completed in 1900, and the flow of the river was reversed through the use of a series of canal locks, pumps, and tunnels, which redirected the flow of the river away from Lake Michigan. Looking at this project in isolation, this was a major achievement and it helped to significantly improve public health and water quality in the region. However, it also had significant environmental consequences elsewhere. 

By diverting the city’s wastewater away from Lake Michigan, the reversal led to the depletion of oxygen levels in the Illinois River and the Gulf of Mexico, causing damage to aquatic ecosystems and contributing to the formation of a large “dead zone” in the Gulf.  

Data quality and building connected, dynamic systems 

I used this reference in several conversations I had with other business leaders. As with the Chicago River, changing only the flow of your product data will not solve your problems – your data still needs to be right. Having both the right data and the right data flow is at the heart of what we are building at inriver with our new breed of PIM solution. As the only vendor with one common infrastructure that provides a single source of truth for all product data and the ability to syndicate that product data out to sales channels and analyze product performance with Digital Shelf Analytics, we are determined to remove waste from the e-commerce process and help businesses learn from feedback in ever-changing systems.  

I am particularly excited about the role of Digital Shelf Analytics in this new PIM ecosystem. With Digital Shelf Analytics, brands can leverage automation to constantly monitor products on the digital self and deliver real-time insight into buyer behavior, product performance, and channel competition. This information lets companies respond to issues with product listing data—such as adding a missing image or changing a broken link—at the moment to keep the right data flowing to customers. 

Rivers are constantly changing; they are dynamic systems impacted by various factors including weather, erosion, and human activities, and over time a river can change its course speed and even size. The e-commerce world is also constantly changing. Having the right strategy and technology to flow with these changes and stay in balance will be a differentiating factor in which businesses thrive in the future. At inriver, we are committed to helping businesses achieve this goal, and I look forward to sharing more insights on the future of PIM in this series. If you would like to speak directly on how the right product data and the right data flow can drive your business growth, contact us today. 

Powering a Sustainable Future: Notes from our CEO

inriver CEO Niels Stenfeldt explores the role technology can play in building a better future in his blog series "Powering a Sustainable Future: Notes from our CEO". He shares his thoughts on the PIM industry, its direction, the latest trends and innovations, and most importantly how brands and manufacturers can take advantage of this evolution to position themselves as market leaders.

  • Niels Stenfeldt

    Former Chief Executive Officer & Board Member

    read more