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Ventana Research has just released our 2012 Value Index for Product Information Management (PIM), in which we evaluate the competency and maturity of vendors and products. Our firm has been researching this software category for many years, and our latest benchmark research in product information management, coming out shortly, finds PIM software providing substantive benefits in new channels of interaction with suppliers and customers.

I am excited to provide research and education on this critical enterprise software, which is essential in just about every industry. We are the only research firm with a dedicated focus on product information management. Our benchmark research on organizations using this software not only uncovers best practices and trends, but it also highlights what businesses can do to improve competencies across their people and processes. The new Value Index for Product Information Management assesses vendors and products and their suitability to businesses’ needs and priorities based on our upcoming benchmark research.

The Ventana Research methodology utilizes a request for proposal and assessment approach. Each value index takes six months to complete; unlike other analyst firms, we look at the product details that have the most importance in successful adoption and use. We evaluate PIM vendors across seven critical categories that are essential for achieving planned benefits: usability, reliability, manageability, adaptability and capability of the products, and also the customer assurance areas of validation and TCO/ROI. We weight each category according to its priority to buyers, and sum the results to 100 percent for scoring purposes. In the process we identify best and worst practices that further refine how we assess technology vendors in each category. For instance, this year we placed a heavier emphasis on adaptability, a factor that organizations in our 2012 benchmark research indicated is becoming more important. You can read the details on our methodology and process in the full 2012 Product Information Management Value Index report.

Our Value Index analysis for product information management looks at the range of needs across all industries and in enterprise, commerce, supplier, consumer and business–to-business areas, along with support of the product life cycle. This year it also examines the emerging needs for mobile access and deployments, finds further points of integration and provides more depth on analytics across specific roles. The Value Index examines needs by job role, including management and managers, analysts and administrators, and looks at IT and information-specific needs for extraction, integration and distribution.  We also examine in-depth capabilities for specific types of integration with other applications and processes. Since PIM is focused master data management (MDM), we assess the range of data management needs for adapting to an organization’s information systems.

Our analysis this year found eight vendors that provide robust offerings and deserve to be rated Hot, which is the highest value level and demonstrates maturity of offerings. Stibo Systems ranks at the top, followed by Heiler, Riversand, Enterworks, Hybris, SAP, Agility and WebOn. We note in our analysis that Heiler, Riversand and Enterworks showed rapid product advancements, and their focus on usability, manageability and capability as well as validation and TCO/ROI helped raise them in the ratings from last year. IBM and Oracle have their work cut out to stay relevant in PIM in the coming years. These vendors focus more on the master data management aspects of PIM, but this IT focus fails to keep pace with the shift of priority and adoption led by business.

A lot has changed among the dedicated PIM suppliers since our last Value Index. For instance, Enterworks, Heiler, Riversand and Stibo released new versions that advanced the usability, manageability, reliability and adaptability of their offerings. Many providers have added support for mobile devices, which for all vendors is just beginning to improve. Many are getting better in analytics, simple reporting and quick-review dashboards. In many cases, improvements to role-based features have helped newly rated Hot vendors gain customer adoption. The PIM category is maturing rapidly, with new applications and capabilities often available for rent in the cloud by organizations that prefer that approach to buying and installing software.

We take pride in our Value Index, and we believe it is cool to be a Hot vendor. Unlike us, IT-focused analyst firms that do not research or advise organizations can have little depth and focus on PIM except from a MDM or content management perspective and have created more confusion than clarity. Some analysts even claim that PIM does not exist, being just MDM. It does not take long to see the uselessness of this commentary, as the vendors in this category demonstrate, and as do the companies that have adopted their software to become more efficient and maximize profitability.

Congratulations to the vendors that stood up to our detailed assessment processes and granular analysis, which represent how organizations assess and select vendors. We’re proud of our objective and in-depth analysis, which we publish without review or editing by the technology vendors like other analyst firms. While some vendors may object to the results, our independence provides the basis for the most trusted research in the industry. If you want further information, please download the executive summary. We look forward to offering continued guidance to buyers on this critical application category for business and IT professionals who need to have the most efficient and profitable results-oriented organizations.

Regards,

Mark Smith

CEO & Chief Research Officer

Mark Smith – Twitter

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