Game Changing Product Information Management Inside Salesforce
On this episode of the “Salesforce Simplified” podcast, the topic is Product Information Management (PIM) – what it is, how it can help companies, and how it can be implemented in Salesforce® systems.
Our guest is Mike Milburn, Co-Founder/Co-CEO of Pimly, a new and innovative solution that brings all of a company’s product information into Salesforce to easily manage and utilize product data and digital assets across their Salesforce clouds.
This is “Salesforce Simplified”… the podcast from Ad Victoriam Solutions. Here’s your host, Mike Boyle.
Good day everyone, and welcome on this episode of the Salesforce Simplified Podcast. The topic is Product Information Management, PIM, if you will, for short. Everything’s got an acronym, right? So we’re going to talk about what PIM is, how it can help companies, and how it can be implemented into Salesforce systems. And to do all that, we’ve invited Mike Milburn, who is the co-founder and Co-CEO of Pimly, which is a new and innovative solution that brings all of a company’s product information into Salesforce to easily manage and utilize product data and digital assets across their Salesforce clouds.
Mike, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s a pleasure to have you with us.
Mike, it’s great to be here today.
So, Mike, let’s start here. Fill us in on your personal background and experience within the Salesforce ecosystem.
Yeah, thanks for asking. So, I had an incredible time at Salesforce and that time was actually measured in over a decade. I started with Salesforce in about 2005 and I left in 2020, so about a 15-year run. And so I’m incredibly proud and humble and just thankful for that experience that I had at Salesforce over those 15 years. And the highlights of that were a lot, but to kind of condense them this morning, here they are.
First, I was part of the team that remodeled and rebuilt and created the Customers for Life team, which is kind of the modern success platform that most SaaS companies think about. Second, and probably the focus for my career was I was one of the founders of the Service Cloud, and I remember the day that we got together and we announced that we were going to build and launch a customer service application that later became the Service Cloud, and that’s one of the gems or the largest cloud in the Salesforce portfolio today, and served as GM and VP for that cloud for a number of years. And then finally ended up as a chief customer officer working for Salesforce, working with some of the largest, biggest and most strategic customers.
So just, Mike, a tremendous experience, I think we changed the world and I’m just very, very thankful for all of the learnings and experiences that I got during those 15 years.
Well, speaking of learning, Mike, let’s start here. Let’s try to educate some folks who may not be familiar with product information management. Why don’t you tell us exactly what that is and why it’s such an important tool for businesses?
The image that I’d like to conjure up is actually if you pull out your phone or your computer and you pull up Amazon or Target or Walmart and you look at what you last ordered, and I would like to think or believe and I’m probably pretty sure that most of your listeners have probably ordered something in the last 24 hours or in the last week, but if you pull up that order you’re looking at a modern embodiment of product information. You see unstructured content or pictures and videos and graphics that help inform you of the product, good or service you’re looking at, you can zoom in and you can get really up close and personal with the content. Then you also see structured data, and it could be as simple as the length or width or height of the item that you purchased, it could be the kind of material, it could be the ingredients in that product. But essentially eCommerce is driven by product information.
So, I think almost everybody interacts with product information in some way, shape or form, especially in this 2023 kind of post COVID eCommerce centric way. So that’s what product information is, it’s the set of attributes and the set of videos and pictures. So it’s the structured and unstructured data that makes up the DNA of any product, good or service.
I’m never going to look at anything I’ve ordered quite the same way again, Mike. You painted the picture. I always find it interesting how entrepreneurs such as you and your partner at Pimly, Mike Dannenfeldt, come up with ideas for businesses. What did you see in the PIM world that needed fixing?
This is a really interesting question. So, I’m actually going to go back to some of my early days at Salesforce for this. And what we felt and saw and lived was the pain through our customer’s eyes. And if you go back to a 2004 or early 2000s timeframe, most of technology was delivered on premise and there were servers and there was maintenance and there was hardware involved. And so it kept the pace of innovation very, very slow and very expensive. And when we built Salesforce and when we built Service Cloud for instance, we pioneered a new delivery model, a new business model and you could subscribe to a service and log into Salesforce and you’d be delivered this incredible product and you could focus on innovation.
So, I was lucky enough to be sort of baptized and just brought up in a religion of innovation, speed, and agility. And so when my partner and I, Mike Dannenfeldt got together… Well, first of all, Mike and I have known each other for over 20 years. And so Mike’s got a similar background to myself except he was one of the first architects ever at Salesforce kind of building, designing and implementing some of the biggest projects and then he went on to found a number of other companies. We sort of saw the same problem in the product information management space. We saw the ability to deliver innovation on platforms just kind of lacking. And what we wanted to do was we wanted to bring product information management and marry it with CRM. So all of what we’ve built and designed and implemented and experienced that Salesforce, it was missing product information management.
And so it was a very similar technology problem that we faced in the early days of Salesforce was it was a big white space, it was an incredible market, customers were moving very, very fast. We love our partner ecosystem, and so we applied all of the learnings that we had at Salesforce to this new space, to this product information management space, and that’s how Pimly was born.
Well, let’s take a moment to talk about some of the key features and benefits of the Pimly technology and how that can help organizations manage their product information more effectively, more efficiently.
This is where I spend most of my time, and this is one of the most exciting things. Again, it really reminds me of the lessons that we learned at Salesforce and spending as much time as you can with critical customers. So, the image that I’d like to invoke here is sort of the Salesforce platform itself, that 360 degree view of a customer. And if you think about that wheel or that view of the customer, traditionally you have sales and service and marketing and commerce, and maybe you have integration or Tableau for business analytics, but there’s kind of a missing spot for products. And so the first place to start is what if you could have your company’s critical product information stored natively in Salesforce. And just having that product information, every company has a product or service, and having that information in Salesforce allows your entire Salesforce community to get access to this information. And now we can talk about some of the applications of that.
So, once you have this critical PIM information natively in Salesforce, the first application that I think about is sales enablement. And if you think about how hard it is to be a modern salesperson, you’ve got to learn a product, good or service, you’ve got incredible pressure to deliver it from your management chain. But you really need to know about that product, good or service, and what better way than to learn about it than through product information native on Salesforce. And, so, it starts with sales and sales enablement.
And then you kind of work yourself around that visual wheel or that 360 degree view of the customer, and you think about service my baby, the Service Cloud. And you think about what if you could interact with that same product, that same product that you bought on a major retailer, and you could interact with the videos and pictures. You wouldn’t have to go to punch out to a website or go to an internal site to look at it, but it was native in Salesforce. It allows you as an agent to stay in context.
And then when you’re supporting a customer, I mean the business of customer service is hard. You’ve got a customer on the other end of the phone or other end of a chat or an email that has a question or a problem with your good or service and you’re trying to help them. And so in order to empathize and really passionately care about that customer, you’ve got to know what product, good or service, you’ve got to know what it does, what it doesn’t do. Maybe you got to know the fabric or what it was designed for, and so you can interact with that same information natively inside your Salesforce Service Cloud console. And so I think that that is incredibly powerful.
And then if you double click on that inside of customer service, this is where a lot of order management happens. And maybe order management is a buzzword, and I think you mentioned acronyms earlier, so let’s kind of demystify that. But maybe you’ve bought a good or service and you are trying to move at or change that good or service and you really want to talk to somebody about it. I just did a furniture delivery for our family and we realized we needed to change a piece of the order and I wanted to do it online, and I went through the online experience, but I really wanted to talk to somebody. This was an important order and I really wanted that confirmation. So I called up the furniture manufacturer, found my order number I needed to move at or change something. And so what better way to interact with product information than through order management natively on Salesforce as part of a service experience?
And then you continue to walk around the wheel of the Salesforce 360, and you think of the Experience Cloud or what Salesforce calls portals. Sometimes I wish they would just call them portals, but Salesforce has incredible branding, so they’re the Experience Cloud, and any customer can spin up a tailor-made pixel perfect portal or experience for their customers, and it could be a selling experience or it could be a service experience. But if you’re like me and you’re used to an experience like on Amazon or Target in Walmart, you want that same experience when you’re interacting with a brand or a service. And so now with Pimly, you can interact with a product, good or service natively on an experienced cloud and that exact same eCommerce fashion that you’re used to.
And then finally, other applications. Salesforce has incredible industry clouds that are built natively on Salesforce, and Pimly can be invoked in any one of the industry clouds because we’re standard on Salesforce. And then by the time this podcast airs, everybody’s going to be talking about the Data Cloud, which is Salesforce’s newest innovation, a transactional way to interface and integrate with Salesforce for personalized data. Pimly is one of the first and native applications that integrates to Salesforce Data Cloud.