The much anticipated 2018 Forrester PIM Wave has just published. While it's hot off the presses here are my key takeaways from the report as well as some highlights on Forrester’s evaluation of Salsify. In an additional post I discuss our point of view on PIM and how it fits in with modern commerce requirements.
The Identity Crisis Is Over: PIM exists to power modern commerce
One of the biggest challenges when buyers hear the word PIM is that there is no common agreement on what problem these tools solve and therefore what the key capabilities focus on. From Salsify’s perspective, we were encouraged to see Forrester pushing Product Information Management as a tool more fit to support digital commerce professionals and their workflows than traditional enterprise data management. In our view, this was manifest in the criteria behind the evaluation. In the past PIM was squarely focused on content onboarding, content centralization and governance, but we welcome the addition of content creation and enrichment as well as content distribution.
“From its roots in large enterprise MDM, the PIM market transformation now is complete.” Only one of four vendors have maintained their leadership position when compared to the 2014 Wave evaluation.
According to Forrester, PIMs help teams win customers and expand their markets
Forrester highlights that digital business professionals need a PIM to centralize content and manage multichannel requirements. Not having a PIM risks having inconsistent content and falling behind the competition. PIMs enable teams to be successful by enabling four core functions:
- Content Onboarding
- Content Centralization & Governance
- Content Creation & Enrichment
- Content Distribution
Business User Empowerment & Cloud Services Are Transforming the Landscape
According to the report, PIMs are bringing more capabilities (traditionally under MDM) like data management and centralization of content into the purview of business users. So much so that PIMs are now differentiating based on the level of control business users have to write rules, create workflows, manage taxonomies, and change data models. The report also notes that cloud computing has contributed to transforming the market in several ways:
- Time to value
- Access to Machine Learning
Salsify: A Strong Performer in Forrester’s PIM Evaluation
This was Salsify’s first participation in a Forrester PIM Wave and are thrilled to have received high marks on:
- The second-highest score in the Content Enrichment criterion. This has to do with the ability to provide insight to the user about content quality and performance. Evaluating metrics include: integrating with auto-translation services as well as image processing tools that auto-tag images as well as recommending enhancements based on feedback from the channel.
- The highest score in the Content Syndication criterion. This has to do with both strategy and functionality to enable the distribution of content to external content networks like GDSN as well as retailers and marketplaces, social media, ad and search platforms. Evaluating metrics include: bi-directional connectivity through API methods that provide channel feedback.
- The highest possible score in the Big Data and AI roadmap criterion. This criteria has to do with how well the roadmap will exploit machine learning, AI, and Big Data to deliver new PIM functionality.
- The highest possible score in the Product Vision criterion. This has to do with how well the vision aligns with what clients need to win, serve and retain customers. As well as how the vision supports revenue and growth-generating business outcomes. This is also measuring the vendors focus on customer centricity and experience.
- The highest possible score in the Revenue Growth criterion. This is measured based on 2016 to 2017 year-over-year revenue growth. Salsify earned the highest possible score of 5 by demonstrating a growth of more than 60% year-over-year.
- The highest possible score in the Time to Value criterion. This is measured based on length of implementation cycles. Salsify earned the highest possible score of 5 by demonstrating initial implementation cycles of 4 months or less. Specifically, Forrester notes that: "[Salsify's] true multitenant platform delivers the fastest time-to-value of any PIM solution in this evaluation: Customers have loaded catalog data as soon as week 2 into an implementation and have completed integrating with digital platforms in under 12 weeks."
In their written analysis, Forrester called out two weaknesses: limited API connections for retailers outside the US, and highlighted our ability to manage internationalized content as weaker compared with those of other PIM vendors. These are both big areas of investment for Salsify and we are taking the following steps:
- Connectivity for partners outside the US: Salsify manages the requirements of over 1,000 distinct channels, more than a third of them outside the US. Companies currently use Salsify for syndication in over 70 countries. However, in most cases they are using our self-service capability - that is, they are able to add support for new retailers without our team being involved and without us actively managing requirement updates. Our investment strategy involves building depth of capabilities for the top global sellers and optimizing for the broad set of channels so our users can connect through the best available method. For the long tail of channels we are laser focused on continuously improving the spreadsheet automation process and improving our SLA’s which allow any brand to provide us with any spreadsheet from any retailer around the world and have a channel mapped in Salsify with the fastest time in the industry. We are focused on strengthening our partnerships with the largest international retail and marketplace channels. For example, we were just added to Amazon’s Development Council (release here) and are a Walmart certified content service provider (reference here). In addition, we have partnerships with Brandbank and Alkemics in Europe. Our depth of coverage means we can support the syndication needs of multiple Fortune 500 companies across Europe, Asia and Latin America. Furthermore, and in support of our vision for a more open world, we are planning on developing a public software development kit that any developer, partner, retailer or brand can use to develop connectors to and from Salsify.
- Managing multilingual content: Salsify has hundreds of customers outside the US and Canada who are managing multilingual content. We’ve been able to store data in any language for years but the product itself along with the UI is only available in English. As such, we’re investing in internationalization capabilities to help users manage multilingual content in a efficient, user friendly way. In addition, we are working on localizing the UI and making the syndication process more language aware.
Disclaimer: This information is intended to outline how we are currently thinking about our general product direction. It is intended for guidance only, and should not be interpreted as a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions.