Open-source Product Information Management (PIM) System – A Brief
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By: Manish Shewaramani

Open-source Product Information Management (PIM) System – A Brief

Data management becomes one of the tedious tasks for modern-day smaller companies and also for enterprises. Choosing the right PIM solution will make things easier for managing and enriching product information.

This article elaborates on the product information management (PIM) solution offered in an open-source platform in detail.

What is an Open-source Product Information Management(PIM) System?

A Product Information Management system designed for public access without any code restriction is called open-source PIM. Users can easily make changes or alter the source code of the PIM system according to their needs in an open-source PIM system. An open-source PIM system requires a specialist IT person to handle it more effectively and to manage large volumes of data.

Pros & Cons of Open-source Product Information Management System

Open-source PIM system has both pros & cons it. Enterprises that gain benefits through an open-source PIM system will suffer a few disadvantages because of the same open-source PIM software. Unlike the proprietary PIM software, open-source PIM software requires the presence of a developer or coder for implementing and managing it efficiently.

Well, it may sound good for many enterprises, however, for small companies or retailers, it may sound a tedious task. For companies involved in small business, the operation doesn’t have the appropriate infrastructure to provide such a large pool of resources for the development or implementation of the open-source PIM software.

Here are the lists of a few pros and cons enterprises can experience through open-source PIM software.

Pros of Open-source Product Information Management (PIM) System

  • The power of open-source makes the PIM system adapt to your business pretty easily and quickly. Enterprises can configure and alter the source code of an open-source PIM in any platform according to their requirements or product catalog.
  • Open-source product information management system comes with unlimited API connectivity. This allows enterprises to connect with their PIM with other systems which are all necessary.
  • With an open-source PIM system, enterprises need not worry about the PIM permanence factor. The source code of open-source PIM software can be changed indefinitely.

Cons of Open-source Product Information Management (PIM) System

  • Open-source PIM system requires a proper IT service team for doing PIM implementation and customization.
  • Finding connectors and extensions for open-source PIM is not easy as it sounds in the real market.
  • An open-source PIM system that comes with complimentary plug-ins or functions is not fully free to use and they will not be listed in the free license.

Why do Enterprises Choose Open-source Product Information Management (PIM) systems?

In recent years, the implementation of the Open-source PIM system has dramatically increased. When it comes to handling mission-critical applications enterprises prefer Open-source PIM software rather than opting for closed source PIM software. According to the study reports, almost 90% of the enterprises have been open-source software for supporting their IT infrastructure.

Well, this section elaborates why enterprises give importance to open-source PIM software for effective data management.

1. Flexibility & Adaptability

Unlike the commercial development of proprietary software, an open-source product information management system is highly flexible and fully accessible easily. Proprietary development of the PIM system allows only the vendors to access the source code of the software, however, the open-source model of PIM software comes with individual adaptations which allow consultant teams to access the source code at any time and do necessary changes for making needed integrations.

This highly flexible and easy to adapt nature of open-source PIM software allows an enterprise to take instant business decisions when it comes to integrations and extensions of existing applications.

2. Vendor Independence

Open-source PIM software is fully free from vendor dependence. Unlike the proprietary PIM software, enterprises using open-source PIM give full freedom from the software manufacture. Software manufacturing vendors usually bind enterprises through their proprietary PIM software for a long time and make lock-in changes now and then.

This set of operations leads to high exchange cost or in-app purchase mode and drags enterprises back from adaptations, integrations and to carry out innovative developments. However, all these sets of hassles were eliminated with the usage of open-source PIM software.

3. High-Level Security & Software Quality

The open-source development of PIM software allows enterprises to enjoy a wide range of benefits which includes stable source code, high performance, and so. In addition, the open-source development allows the software to get the real advantage of getting assistance from global communities. Enterprises using open-source PIM software get assistance from the global communities which ensure standard development of PIM systems with a high level of innovation.

Also, the participation of the global community in the PIM software development fills all those security gaps by identifying the loopholes through the scrutiny of many eyes.

4. Uniform Interactions

Stable source code used for the development of the open-source PIM software gives uniform standards of interoperability for enterprises. This enables enterprises to avail high performance from their PIM system and also get a high level of compatibility with other systems.

The power of open-source coding gives a strong API feature to the open-source PIM software that enables the PIM system to integrate with any future system easily. In addition, whenever the global community releases new APIs, the open-source PIM system is updated quickly and connects & exchanges data with other systems seamlessly.

5. Cost-Effective

Unlike the typical commercial proprietary software, the open-source PIM system doesn’t license the fee for use. Because of that, enterprises save a huge sum of money in terms of the PIM system’s license fee. Also, enterprises can hire an IT service provider or by making use of their developers to modify the source code of open-source PIM software and enjoy ownership of their PIM system.

When compared with proprietary PIM software, the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of the open-source PIM system comes much lower if you prefer to hire an IT service vendor to alter the source code; else it will be completely free of cost.

6. Lay Foundation For Innovation

The power of open-source technology allows the global community to interact and to improve the efficiency of the PIM system at any time. Moreover, enterprises can gain access to hundreds and thousands of open-source software products which do a vital role in an organization’s growth through the PIM system.

By integrating vital open-source software products with the PIM system allows an enterprise to resolve various critical business problems. Many enterprises using the open-source PIM system say 90% of their organization’s operational speed has improved through innovative handling of product information.

Top 3 Open Source Product Information Management(PIM) System

You may find numerous commercial Product Information Management (PIM) software in today’s market. However, when it comes to an open-source solution there are only 3 PIM software solutions you can find.

This section will illustrate those 3 Open-source PIM solutions in brief along with a comparison.

1. PIMCore

PIMCore PIM solution comes with multiple capabilities like MDM and DAM. Enterprises or companies can position PIMCore PIM as a platform for conducting digital commerce business and also for maintaining customer data.

PIMCore PIM solution has two versions, commercial and free community versions. You can find the difference between those two versions here https://pimcore.com/en/platform/subscription.

Take a look over the PIMCore free community version in detail below

  • Data Model: PIM Solution offered by PIMCore has all the necessary capabilities to manage the attributes which are attached to the products. PIMCore supports object classes for defining product attributes along with the user interface layout. Hierarchies: PIMCore PIM solution is more flexible than the Akeneo. The use of object classes for defining product attributes helps to build data hierarchies along with the data structures.
  • Data Relations: Again usage of object classes not only helps product data to define attributes & build data hierarchies, but it also helps to build proper data structure and builds all the necessary logical connections of your data and with that relationship, you can link with other objects as well.
  • Assets: Apart from just offering a PIM solution, PIMCore stands as a full-featured DAM (Digital Asset Management) solution.
  • Data Export/Import: Just like Akeneo, PIMCore free community PIM software’s capabilities of data imports and exports are limited. However, the mapping features provided in PIMCore’s PIM on CSV or XSL column data make it far better than Akeneo’s PIM data export/import capabilities.
  • Data Quality & Product Completeness: Though, PIMCore’s PIM solution doesn’t have any built-in features for assisting product completeness still you can do easily implement your calculation fields by using PHP codes. Also, the data quality feature of PIMCore’s PIM solution is good.

2. Akeneo

Akeneo is one of the popular PIM solutions in today’s market; it has both commercial and free community versions in it. You can find the difference between both versions on their official website https://www.akeneo.com/compare-editions.

Here we have briefed the free community version since our core topic is about free open-source PIM solutions.

  • Data Model: Akeneo collects and stores product information as an ‘entity.’ In General, a PIM system should be designed to maintain a different set of attributes for a product based on the product types. Akeneo maintains the product attributes as families because each product refers to a set of specific families.
  • Hierarchies: In Akeneo, products are categorized based its hierarchy. In Akeneo, you can have as many hierarchies; however, when it comes to product categories Akeneo has it simple. The functions of Akeneo are implemented as a custom PHP development.
  • Data Relations: Data relationships in PIM points out data stored in the system has some dependencies. Akeneo supports enterprises or companies to link product data based on their simple ‘Association Type’.
  • Assets: The free version of the Akeneo PIM solution allows you to have limited product assets. Product image, product catalog, videos, tutorials are often referred to as product assets and they are considered very important for marketing people.
  • Data Export/Import: Akeneo PIM solution has a pre-defined configuration for data import and export. Users can export or import product data either in CSV, XML file format in Akeneo. However, you need to provide correct column names while uploading or downloading the data from Akeneo PIM software.
  • Data Quality & Product Completeness: Akeneo open-source PIM system comes with good supporting features for indicating product completeness and product data quality. However, when compared to the commercial version of Akeneo PIM, rule engines are pretty low in the free community version.

3. OpenPIM

Unlike the other two PIM solutions, OpenPIM is completely free and it doesn’t have any other paid version at all. However, the manufacturer is ready to offer commercial support to the needed enterprises for better management of their free PIM solution, for more details visit http://www.openpim.org.

Take a look over the PIM Solution offered by OpenPIM in detail.

  • Data Model: The data model of OpenPIM is almost similar to the PIMCore’s system and it offers pretty good support when it comes to defining products and their different types of attributes.
  • Hierarchies: OpenPIM solution follows the same path as the PIMCore system where it requires defining data types and making use of those for building data hierarchies. However, the PIMCore system requires PHP coding for configuring data levels, but in the OpenPIM system, you can configure your data levels without using any programming languages.
  • Data Relations: When it comes to data relations, OpenPIM uses product attributes to related data and other objects. This is far better than the other two types of Open-source PIM solutions.
  • Assets: Unlike PIMCore’s solution where you can enjoy a full-featured data asset Management solution, the OpenPIM system provides standard and average DAM solutions.
  • Data Export/Import: OpenPIM system uses full-featured free ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) tool ‘Talend’ because of that, data exporting and importing features are excellent and perfect.
  • Data Quality & Product Completeness: Just like PIMCore’s solution, the OpenPIM system too doesn’t have any built-in features for assisting product completeness but it can be done through the easy implementation of third-party plug-ins. Also, features like including attribute types, setting attribute action ensures the data quality capabilities of the OpenPIM system are good enough.

Bottom Line

The ability of an open-source data management system to safely leverage open-source technologies leads enterprises to be innovative and to implement innovative ideas through effective management of their product data/information.

As a result, enterprises around the world prefer open-source management systems for better management of their business operation and also to drive their business towards successful transformation to achieve goals.

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