SEMA News - August 2009

Enter the Future: Change or Die

SEMA NEWS-AUGUST 2009-CHRIS KERSTING“The most rigid structures, the most impervious to change, will collapse first,” wrote Eckhart Tolle in “A New Earth.” The poet Claudian put it even more directly: “Change or die.” While the current state of the specialty-equipment industry is not that grim, Claudian’s sentiments may be appropriate when it comes to business technology.

Technology is like a river fed by dozens of tributaries. Online catalogs, website orders, enthusiast blogs, search engines—industry stakeholders navigate these streams every day. More and more often, they do so as their primary means of finding information and making their purchasing decisions. Our businesses must ensure that not only are the products we offer the best they can be, but also that our customers can use these technologies to easily and quickly find, and become knowledgeable about our goods and services. Even traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores are discovering the benefits of an Internet presence.

Bringing our members the knowledge and practical ability to use technology has become one of SEMA’s most pressing initiatives. The association’s Business Technology Committee is placing major emphasis on the standardization of product data. Standardization enables the crucial channels from which all other electronic commerce elements flow. Take the time to read the series of technology stories that begin on page 28 of this issue. And take advantage of the step-by-step data-standardization processes detailed on the BTC website.

Education has long been a hallmark of SEMA’s efforts to aid its members, and the association has itself seized upon technology as an informational tool. An extensive and growing archive of webinars—online seminars available 24/7 via the webinar homepage —provides a host of sessions devoted to technology themes, such as product data standardization, developing and improving your website and utilizing social media.

SEMA also hosts free educational opportunities at each of its shows and events. Of particular relevance is the 2009 Internet Symposium, which is organized by the Street Performance Council. The Internet Symposium focuses directly on today’s technology issues and leads the way to future applications. Among the discussions slated for the 2009 symposium, to be held August 1 at the Westin Pasadena hotel in Pasadena, California, are business technology tools that include online marketing, intellectual property rights and search-engine optimization.

Of course, the SEMA Show is the Mecca for automotive specialty-equipment education, and the offerings this year include eight separate tracks, each packed with multiple seminars (click now to review the full slate). Nearly all of the tracks contain sessions that either touch on or directly address technology issues. As always, the SEMA Show seminars are free to registered attendees.

And don’t forget about the trove of technology and business information housed at the SEMA News online library. The archive may be searched in a variety of ways—by issue, by topic, by title or by keywords—or you can simply read it page by page as you would a traditional paper version. Check out SEMA News 2.0 on page 50 of this issue for a complete description.

Much of our world changes every day, and change can often be disconcerting or even painful. But in the case of technology, change can be a cause for celebration, offering new pathways to success. Accept the challenge and step into the future.

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