Maintaining product lists is often cited as a great example of Master Data Management (MDM). Many companies that manufacture or sell products need to get a consistent list of products for a variety of business reasons. The business value includes tracking what you sell to customers and also how you manage your supply chain. Product firms create products organically (internally) and through acquisitions. In both cases, each product line has, at least for part of its life, been operated as a separate business. At some point in the product life and sales cycle, business conditions dictate a transition into the company's product portfolio. Although managing product lists is not always a simple task, it is only the tip of the iceberg for companies that design or engineer products. These companies have a need for a more complete PIM (Product Information Management) solution that extends far beyond simple product lists.
If you design or engineer products, then you need to track product designs and configurations that evolve and change over time. This applies to many manufacturing industries from high tech, consumer products, defense, and automobile to even farm machinery. These designs and configurations are likely scattered across many databases and often unstructured data sources. This data is not stored in your classic data warehouse (DW) or integrated through your run-in-of-the-mill ETL tool. You need to think outside your typical DW effort and determine how to get that data integrated into your PIM solution.