The deployment of Informatica was aimed at bringing together data from a wide range of sources, as opposed to its website only.
"Ecommerce is very important to us, but we can't forget the rest of the business. We needed a solution that will work for everyone. And that very much dictated how we wanted the PIM to fit into the overall architecture."
Harrods had previously relied on its SAP ERP system for managing product data. However - while the ERP platform was a good fit much of Harrods' operation - it was not suitable for this task, he explained.
"One of the reasons we kicked off the [product information strategy] is that we recognised that SAP isn't the best place to manage that data," said Rush.
"SAP does a lot of great things very - it is brilliant for the logistics side, brilliant for the warehouse management. But it was never designed to manage rich customer facing product information. So why use that as your product data entry tool?
"We went and found a PIM solution that is obviously designed to manage customer-facing product information."
At that time SAP, a long time Harrods partner, did not have a relevant product management service to meet Harrods' requirements so it looked further afield.
"SAP said no, they don't have a solution at that point. Maybe now they have Hybris I would change that story, but at the time they didn't have a solution so they actually recommended we go with Informatica," he said.
"IBM didn't seem to understand their own product set, let alone be able to explain it to us. It all looked very complicated and difficult to understand, and very expensive.
"This left us with Stibo and Informatica, and they both have powerful solid solutions, and our decision was to go with Informatica was largely based on the quality of the people. Technically the solutions can both do the job but we had greater confidence in Informatica to deliver."
Data management benefits
The Informatica tool has also made the management of product information much easier for staff often tasked with inputting the product data into its enterprise systems, mainly buyers.
"We wanted to keep that speed and efficiency of data right up front. If we gave people a data entry screen with 300 attributes they would just laugh in your face. So the buying teams had to have a very simple straight forward data entry tool that allowed them to give the key dozen attributes to get their products created," he said.
The PIM software has also reduced the time taken to generate product information, says Rush. This means getting from the initial data creation through to creation on SAP and the completion of the production creation cycle in "less than an hour."
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