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Introducing The Product Knowledge Pyramid

18/12/14

Product information management can be a broad-reaching and often confusing topic. Depending on whether it is referred to as engineering data management, master data management, or one of many other terms, it can be seen as encompassing many different areas of business operation.

While product information management solutions like Epitomy’s Data Manager and PDM Lite can greatly simplify the process of managing product data, making sure that data can be used meaningfully by the business requires a strategic view.

Why should a business implement a product information management strategy, and what should it cover? What are the benefits? These are some of the questions we considered while laying the strategic basis for what is now our new PIM Data hub solution. One potential approach to explaining the answers we chose comes from an information science model – the Knowledge Pyramid.

The Knowledge Pyramid, also known as the DIKW Pyramid or the Wisdom Hierarchy, is a model for representing the relationship between data, information, knowledge, and wisdom. Each level of the hierarchy is defined in terms of the one below – i.e. information is defined in terms of data, knowledge in terms of information, and wisdom in terms of knowledge.

Data is raw values, for example dimensions, prices, or inventory numbers.

Information is data contextualized by what it refers to, for example a product attribute or the stock level of a particular product.

Knowledge is the combination of multiple pieces of information in a structured form, for example a Bill of Materials, catalogue structure, or discount matrix.

Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge to perform an action, for example search a catalogue for a part or purchase a product.

This hierarchical representation of the relationship between data, information, and knowledge has been used for some time in the field of information science. Moving up the pyramid is associated with greater contextualisation and more ‘real world’ applicability of data. This makes the model a close fit to describe how product data can be used to benefit a business.

How is this relevant to what we do? Well, Epitomy’s core business can essentially be defined as empowering our customers to move their organisation up the pyramid. Our solutions are designed to let users extract the maximum possible value from their product information by allowing it to be published to the right person in the right context at the right time.

Because of this, we have adapted the concept of this hierarchy into our new strategy as the Product Knowledge Pyramid. By explicitly referring to product data, product information, and product knowledge we can examine how the components of our new solutions fit into a common theoretical framework and ensure that our customers experience the benefits of relevant and contextualized data.

Look out for future articles detailing how using the Product Knowledge Pyramid can help your product data management strategies, and how our products and services fit into this framework.

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