SEMA News—September 2012

BUSINESS
By Jon Wyly

The SEMA Data Cooperative

An Industry Solution for Data Independence

As the SEMA Data Cooperative (SDC) gets up and running, its officers are getting a lot of questions and comments from participants, curious observers and skeptics. They range from those who are currently active in managing their data to folks who are just realizing that product data management is fast becoming a requirement to do business in today’s marketplace.

In this installment of an ongoing series concerning the SDC, we will address a few of the most commonly asked questions to clear away some of the fog surrounding this important, game-changing effort. As always, we are happy to talk one on one with anyone interested in learning more about the SDC and are available through the contact information shown at the end of this article.

Q: I’m a supplier who wants to take control of my product data, but we don’t know where to start. How can the SDC help us get on the right path?

A: The SDC is as much about education and training as it is about actually managing data. Our fulltime help desk is dedicated to teaching the process from whatever level the customer needs, beginning with an introductory session to identify the current state of your data. Then we walk you through a process to gather key data points from your existing systems and create a standards-compliant version to build on. This process will require some time investment on your part but will lead to a lifetime of benefits as you take ownership of this critical business element.

Q: I am already having my data managed through a third-party provider. Why do I need the SDC?

 

Our help desk will work with that individual to gather your data in whatever format you have (even a simple spreadsheet).

   
A: An important part of the SDC is the data repository where all data is stored. Our goal is to create a centralized place for all industry data to securely reside, providing a one-stop resource for receivers [customers] of all kinds. We are already establishing valuable receiver relationships, and we will provide unlimited data exports in standard PIES/ACES formats or custom exports specific to the receiver’s needs, with only a small annual membership fee. This repository relieves you of the need to create and export data in countless formats and enables you to manage who gets your data though a custom online interface. We welcome data feeds from your third-party service, provided they meet SDC requirements for completeness and pass our validation tests.

Q: I like what I am seeing in the beta phase. What is it going to cost once the production system goes live?

A: As a non-profit association, SEMA is ideally suited to provide quality education, the latest technology and expert services at the lowest possible cost. Therefore, we are anticipating a total cost to suppliers for all on-boarding, data validation, secure storage and unlimited data exports to range from $300–$600 per month, depending on the amount of storage space required. This will enable all companies—regardless of size—to benefit from the most state-of-the-art data facility and services while taking control and complete ownership of this valuable business asset.

Q: I don’t have a data expert on staff and know nothing about ACES and PIES. How will I be able to manage these complex data standards?

A: A data expert is not required with the SDC, but you will likely find that you will want to assign responsibility for your data files to a trusted employee as you engage with the Co-op. Our help desk will work with that individual to gather your data in whatever format you have (even a simple spreadsheet), and we will use our tools to begin the process of making your data compliant with the standards. As we identify missing or inaccurate data, we will work with your contact to fill in the blanks, correct errors and prepare your new standards-compliant data for export to your customers.

As of this writing, the SEMA Data Cooperative has more than 90 leading companies engaged in the beta phase and is on target to show a working model of the production system at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, with January as the target launch date for the full production facility.

For more information about the SDC or how to join, visit www.SEMAdatacoop.org or call 888-958-6698.

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