"Which system and which approach solves my multichannel publishing challenge in product communication?" “Which system optimizes my processes and is as flexible in the long run as required in today's environment?"

These are just two of many questions companies ask themselves when thinking about trends, features and options for engaging with customers in today's Web 4.0.

New ways of communicating need to be implemented and Publishing 4.0 is the appropriate buzzword for this. We are indeed in another paradigm shift and as a company you have bad cards for the future if you don't take this seriously. It would not be the first time that in times of revolution, those who close their minds to current technologies and only rely on tried and tested processes are left behind. The resulting backlog would be difficult to catch up.

It must be possible to use information, data and content dynamically, highly topical and in the appropriate channels effectively, consistently and repeatedly. This is demanded by shorter product lifecycles, new trends on the web, legal regulations, common sense and increasingly demanding customers in increasingly global markets - and not only in the B2C sector.

But don’t panic! Ultimately, the journey is the goal and each company must set out to tackle these technical challenges again.

Instead of continuing to operate one-way workflows and the related single-channel publishing on several fronts, in many cases all information must first be brought together in a suitable system so that it can develop consistently and in the correct format in all communication channels.

A basic prerequisite for multichannel publishing is to start with a healthy and tidy database that can easily be used as a publishing source. The working methods, technical requirements and knowledge of all departments and stakeholders must also be considered when selecting a system. The previous established systems in the company must either be reconsidered or networked. Otherwise, further individual media and content islands will quickly emerge, which will complicate processes.

Starting from this central data source, not only are the processes in all aspects of data management considerably simplified, but also the subsequent publishing workflows are structured and optimised. While data is being maintained and updated in the workflow at the same time, others can already be published. If product information is incorrect, it can be corrected in all publications in parallel within a very short time.

In many cases, however, the current data is still exported manually (for example from the ERP system), compiled and then transferred "on foot" as an Excel list to the other departments and participants for further processing. The "silent data mail" begins. And depending on the complexity, emerging or existing data errors can only be detected when it is often already too late.

"But which system is the right one for my company? Which system can do what? And to what extent? Do I need a new CMS system - or rather W2P?"

A basic knowledge of what which system can do and what it is optimally used for cannot hurt:

DAM and MAM system:

DAM means digital asset management and MAM means media asset management. An asset is a structured file - for example a PDF, a video or an image. If the main focus of the managed files is on videos, it is also called VAM or Video Asset Management. The somewhat outdated expression would be image or media database. Typical functions of an asset management system are the import and export of files - possibly also with format conversions into the desired file format or size. In addition, meta information can be enriched and managed for research (e.g. IPTC-NAA standard, EXIF or xmp file information). An asset management system makes it easier to find, compare and select assets on the basis of adjustable criteria and enables files to be combined into packages. In addition, an asset management system can support DRM (Digital Rights Management) and makes it easier to archive and version files.

TIP: Correctly maintained metadata, such as IPTC and EXIF, as well as meaningful file names not only make it easier to find it in your own asset management system, but also make it easier for search engines to find and reach your marketing content.

ECM, CM and WCM system:

According to the definition of the industry association AIIM International, ECM (Enterprise Content Management) or CM (Content Management) is an abbreviation for technologies that are primarily used for the acquisition, administration, preservation and provision of structured content and documents to support organizational processes can be used in the company.

In content management systems that can only be used as a web application and manage content on Internet-based websites and portals, the term "Web Content Management" (WCM) is sometimes used.

These systems are usually rather unsuitable when it comes to managing highly complex content and information in a highly granular manner and flexibly outputting it in several channels, since the information for this is already too structured and modeled and the further purpose is already limited. CM systems are not suitable for the mass administration of pure and often strongly changing, multi-layered product information from a wide variety of sources.

TIP: Here too, new approaches to content management and publishing do not stand still. In addition to many enterprise CMS systems, so-called headless CMS solutions are particularly interesting. Through previously defined requirements, processes and data structures, data and content are made fully customizable and usable in a traditional CMS system, independent of any system features. Highly individual solutions are created for simplified editing and modern search engine optimization, while at the same time offering development and design managers the freedom they need for creativity and productivity.

ERP system:

ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. It is a financial and business management software. It usually covers all financial and commodity management processes, strategic and operational planning processes for manufacturing, purchasing, distribution, order processing and inventory management. An ERP system links supplier databases, is used for order tracking, accounts receivable and accounts payable, warehouse management, resource management and much more. Due to the specific requirements of individual industries, many industry-specific ERP systems can be found. Master data and some important product-related information can be managed in ERP systems, but ERP systems are not able to publish this information in various channels in a media-appropriate way. In addition, not all the product information needed in a print or web catalogue, for example, is in an ERP system. Therefore, in many cases, the required product information that is available in the ERP system is exported for further processing for marketing and manually supplemented with the missing product information from other departments so that it can be used for catalogue productions and price lists, for example. Again, this creates an error-prone media discontinuity. The data must be supplemented and assigned to the products in a time-consuming process. Another problem is the effort involved in creating or changing articles in an ERP system. Therefore, strongly changing shadow assortments of suppliers are not even created in the respective ERP system.

TIP: Do not use data from the ERP system exclusively for your product communication and marketing activities. Better link your ERP with a PIM system.


Abbreviation for Web to Print. W2P stands for internet-based print data creation. Based on a CMS / editorial system and a server-side PDF library for PDF generation, pre-made templates with data from a database or manually entered information can be integrated using an Internet browser. First introduced in the mid-1990s, this could be seen as the logical continuation of desktop publishing. This is why these systems are also called webtop publishing systems or online publishing systems. Often an attempt was made to reproduce the functionalities of professional DTP programs online - especially when it came to creating the required template files.

Professional systems rely directly on Adobe InDesign servers as a layout and typesetting engine. Workflow functionalities round off the functionalities. MAM or DAM systems are often integrated or connected in order to maintain the image files in the predefined templates from these databases. The basis are always predefined templates. The range of functions has been divided into five different classifications by ZIPCON Consulting for better transparency. Classification A is here a pure automat for firmly defined templates (for example business cards) and goes up to classification E with workflow and campaign automatisms.

TIP: A W2P system is not just for print shops. Companies can use such a solution to organize their own corporate equipment (business cards, brochures, personalized catalogs, etc.) perfectly and quickly and quickly roll out corporate design for print and digital formats.

Editorial system:

From a technical point of view, editorial systems belong to the content management systems. The essential feature is the distinctive separation of content, data structure and design. They also offer options for user administration and functions to generate workflows. Editorial systems, for example, represent the front ends with which you use the functions of a W2P system. Here, web-based templates can be edited and compiled in order to fill them with content later.

Editorial systems have been introduced since 1980, especially for editorial processes within publishers. The way journalists work has changed fundamentally. The documents were worked on online. Other professions, such as typesetter, disappeared completely. The creation of templates and printing templates mostly takes place in DTP programs. Here, too, the layout and typesetting engine is usually the Adobe InDesign server in the background to enable the editing system to process the documents in the online workflow.

Some other systems with an independently developed layout and typesetting engine also offer template creation without the necessary DTP programme, usually with fewer functions. However, the implementation of complex layouts is often severely restricted compared to the use of DTP programmes.

TIP: First developed for the creation of print media in the publishing industry, editorial systems are nowadays also used by larger companies outside the publishing industry, as they can now also be used for online media, intranets and extranets of the corporate site and therefore for the complete brand management of a company. MAM and DAM systems are partly integrated or can be connected. Editorial systems are suitable for managing editorial content. They are less suitable for managing highly complex product information because of the data structure used - but they can integrate this information from suitable databases.


Information about products is often available in the company in several systems, tables or databases and is in part already highly structured and media bound. Thus, this information cannot be used for several, different publication channels without effort.

A Product Information Management system consolidates the information from different systems in an unstructured and media-neutral way in an extremely flexible, structural set-up in order to be able to output it appropriately for the corresponding publication channel and at runtime.

PIM systems can be placed upstream of all the other systems mentioned above and bidirectionally receive, manage and output data. A PIM system is the best choice for product information management. The data structure can be set up flexibly and offers structural management of information that is usually reserved for other systems (example: marketing information in the editorial system and article numbers, short descriptions, commercial features, logistics data from the ERP).

First generation PIM systems have historically grown from different approaches with different focuses. Historical focal points can be the pure automated print output, e-commerce requirements or e-procurement demands - or the basis was once a pure CM system that was extended by certain PIM functions.

Nowadays, some PIM systems not only offer unstructured and media-neutral information management and a historically determined output channel or purpose. More modern second-generation systems can support classification standards and catalogue exchange formats in addition to workflow functionalities and serve various other publication channels (e-commerce shop, print, web catalogue, app catalogue on mobile devices) with uniform product information. These PIM systems already contain appropriate modules (publishing components) or can be connected directly with other systems (ERP, MAM, DAM, editorial system) bidirectionally via the open interface with little effort.

The immense effort of creating a new article in an ERP system can also be considerably optimised by an upstream PIM system. On the retailer side, the reduction and easier management of shadow assortments from different suppliers is also worth mentioning. The use of a search engine makes it possible to search for the desired product across suppliers and assortments and to select the best offer. For order processing, the product data together with the supplier conditions are then fed into the ERP via an interface.

TIP: Strategically, PIM is a necessity at the latest when the support of data exchange standards (such as GDS, ETIM, BMEcat), multi-channel strategies or an international expansion strategy are to be implemented. Effective information consolidation and the processes based on it make Product Information Management a decisive success factor.

PCM and PDM:

PCM and PDM stand for Product Content Management or Product Data Management. These are just different names for a PIM system and are more likely to be found in America.


PLM means Product Lifecycle Management. A PIM system should not be confused with a PLM system. Every product on the market - from a marketing perspective - is subject to a certain life process. However, the entire lifecycle of a product also includes the process to which the product is subject before it is ready for the market - namely the planning and conception process of a product.

A PLM system supports the product identification and conception process until it is ready for the market - a PIM system manages the information on the finished and developed product for the markets. In the PIM system, only the actual and binding information of the finished, market-ready product is of interest.

Thus, the difference between the two systems is already defined by the entire product life cycle. Namely the section before the market readiness and the section after the market readiness of a product.

Ideally, all systems and programs that come into contact with the product are connected to a PLM system. From planning (PPS / ERP), construction (CAD program), calculation (CAE), production (CAM) to controlling.

TIP: As soon as it is ready for the market, a PIM system can take over the information and data of the finished product that was already generated and produced during the product conception. These are consolidated and published with information from other departments. For example, CAD files and construction drawings can be used by means of a PIM system for generated web catalogs or for the creation of 3D PDFs. The data generated during the construction of a product are used again efficiently and the entire product presentation is refined and upgraded. The entire timeline (time to market) from product development to market entry is also drastically shortened, since all processes can actually take place in parallel instead of linearly.


CRM is the abbreviation for Customer Relationship Management. A CRM system supports the customer relationship management of a company. Customer relationships are managed in a CRM system and it enables coordinated relationship marketing. For operative CRM, it can therefore make sense to connect a PIM system. This makes consistent product information directly available for cross-selling activities in the CRM system.

TIP: Cloud technologies facilitate the networking of customer data, online commerce, marketing and sales. They facilitate the joint use of all data. This is the only way to sustainably manage user-consensus management and customer centricity.


Abbreviation for Data Based Publishing. Another term for single source publishing from the beginnings of database-supported production. This term was used when a single output channel was used (e.g. the automated creation of print catalogs).

TIP: Forget about data-based publishing.


SSP stands for single source publishing and cross-media publishing from a uniform data or information base. In contrast to the term DBP, this means several publication channels with one data source.

TIP: Forget about single source publishing. Multichannel and omnichannel publishing are the current challenges.


These abbreviations stand for Multi Format Publishing or Multi Channel Publishing. This means the output of content in all conceivable and digital formats in order to use them across media. Multi-channel publishing optimizes the respective publication processes and thus supports the multichannel marketing of a company.

Channels are classic and modern marketing communication channels. A TV spot, for example, is a classic communication channel and videos on mobile devices or in social media platforms would be modern communication channels. Different formats of the film are necessary for all communication channels, even if the underlying film is the same.

TIP: Always think not only of the publishing, but also of the feedback channel and analyze your successes and failures. Never forget: Your user is the focus and everything should revolve around him.


This is the abbreviation for cross media publishing and refers to the cross-media publication of information. A distinction is made here according to the media used. For example, a video of a product, the product in a printed product catalogue or the product in the online catalogue on a website.

Whereas until a few years ago the corresponding formats were more clearly delineated to the respective media or channels, nowadays the term "multi-channel publishing" or " multi-format publishing" is probably more contemporary in principle. Even with a single TV spot in the medium of television, it already makes a difference whether it is broadcast digitally in high-definition or in older formats. On the one hand, each individual medium can have various formats - on the other hand, it may be that one format can be used for several media.

TIP: Cross media publishing and cross channel publishing always have an underlying cross-channel campaign as a common intersection. Media and channels are interconnected and pay off together and are individually tailored to the respective media and channel target audience/persona, for campaign success.


MDM is the abbreviation for the expression “Master Data Management”, or in German: “Master Data Management”.

Basically, this is a concept idea and at the same time a popular collective term for all IT systems with which central data storage of master data and reference data is possible and the "single version of truth" approach is implemented.

MDM means that information is available in a non-redundant database / repository and can be used multiple times across departments or companies. On the one hand, to optimize individual processes, and on the other hand, to provide the same underlying information for all subsequent processes.