How dirty is your data?
If I were writing this article for a magazine, that’s the title I’d give it. But, this is a serious blog about serious SAP B2B eCommerce, so maybe I should think of another title.
How’s this? “Product hierarchy and attribute consistency in SAP data and its impact on SAP-integrated B2B eCommerce”
Well, that title is accurate, but way more boring. Obviously, since this blog post is already published, I’m sticking with my original title and concept.
What is “dirty data”?
Most likely, the architecture of your product data in SAP was not designed from an eCommerce perspective. Instead, it probably evolved over time, and was organized from an internal perspective, for your employees.
For our purposes, “dirty data” is any product-related information in your SAP system that doesn’t easily translate to an intuitive online experience for your customers.
For example, let’s say you sell lab-ready chemicals, like solvents. In fact, “solvents” is just one item in your top-level product hierarchy. The next level of your hierarchy is “types of solvents” like acetone, ethyl acetate, nitromethane, and dimethyl sulfoxide. At least that’s how your B2B customers think of your products. But that’s not how things are organized in your SAP system, and therein lies the problem.
Categorization is just one example of “dirty data.” Other examples include inconsistent naming conventions and product attributes.
Why is “dirty data” a problem?
Dirty data becomes a problem when you want to launch an SAP-integrated B2B eCommerce site. Why? Because, if you have one product that exists in SAP under five different names, then your SAP-integrated eCommerce site will make it look as if you have five separate and unique products.
Luckily, “dirty data” can be overcome. The first step is admitting you have a problem.
How to solve “dirty data”
We can help you overcome your dirty data by controlling what information we pull from SAP to show your customers.
In the example below, we do not display the actual SAP Material Number directly to web visitors. Instead, we extract information from your SAP Material Master and display it in more user friendly ways.
How can you tell if you have dirty data?
Ask yourself, or your team, the following questions:
- Does your product hierarchy in SAP match the way you want to show product categories on an eCommerce website?
- Are your products named consistently?
- Are your product attributes consistently applied?
- Do you have any visual assets for your products?
- Are your visual assets located in SAP?
- If you need to make a change in your SAP data, do you know the upstream and downstream impacts? (reports, connected systems, etc.)
If you answered “no” to more than 3 of the questions above, then you may have dirty data. Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. And we may be able to help you fix it, or at least clean it up enough so that you can launch a SAP B2B eCommerce site.
About “Behind the Scenes”
As a fast-growing technology company, we’re faced with new opportunities and challenges almost every day. Our response to those events often creates interesting stories (certainly for us and we hope for you).
This series was created to capture and share a “backstage” look at the ways we’re working to scale the company, evolve our services, and respond to the demands of the marketplace. We hope that our customers, partners and friends find value in our efforts to be transparent.