Recently, I took it upon myself to investigate what's left of the catalog and content management sector. In the course of my research, I spoke with a number of industry analysts, consultants, users, and pundits to arrive at a market snapshot.
What I found our might surprise you. The sector, which many considered abandoned, is very much alive. It's just changed. While it’s true that no pure-play vendors like Requisite and SAQQARA have made it into the mainstream -- the majority of vendors have struggled continuously to break out of start-up mode since their inception -- catalog and content management remains a challenge and concern for many organizations.
Many are now describing it in terms of the broader context of master data management (MDM) or product information management (PIM), but more on that in a future blog entry. Whether companies are in the process of implementing an eProcurement system or whether they're trying to enhance their existing Spend Management infrastructure, managing catalog and content information remains a tough challenge. And they're many approaches to doing it.
Using a supplier network like Ariba’s ASN -- which is now open to users of other applications -- or a competing network from Perfect Commerce or CC-Hubwoo remains a viable option. But we’ve heard horror stories from buyers and suppliers alike about working with certain supplier networks (nice try, but we won’t name them), so it's critical to align with a network that will be there for you when you need it (in other words, ask for references from both buyers and suppliers).
Punching out to a supplier’s catalog is another option. And developing an internal, proprietary catalog is also a possibility. Anecdotally, we’ve heard of SAP users who have chosen this option and have been satisfied, but have spent eight figures in the process of bringing suppliers onboard. In other words, content and catalog management success does not come cheap (and this is true for many of the companies who choose Ariba, Oracle, Perfect, and other solutions as well).
Clearly, the complexity of the options -- and the complexity of managing information and keeping it current while deploying different strategies at the same type (which is the most common approach) -- makes catalog and content management difficult, even for advanced organizations. But the rewards can be significant. We will continue to explore this topic in another blog later this week.