SEMA News-January 2012

A Bridge to Market Growth

  Chris Kersting-SEMA President and CEO, automotive business, aftermarket news, automotive international 
We’ve been getting very positive feedback from those of you who were at the 2011 SEMA Show and are gratified to hear that this was a productive Show for exhibitors and buyers alike. Those who attended may have heard our core message behind the “Ideas Alive” theme: Innovation is not just for products—SEMA businesses must also innovate and find additional market opportunities.

We strongly believe that companies will need to find new business and find better ways of doing business to power through the next few years—and sooner rather than later. With that in mind, I’m excited to provide an update on the SEMA Data Cooperative, a Big Idea that can promote efficiency and market expansion across our entire industry.

It’s estimated that nearly 50% of purchase decisions today are affected by information gathered online. And a world of enthusiasts and would-be enthusiasts are currently exploring all things automotive via the Internet. Meanwhile, our specialty manufacturers are woefully behind in having complete and accurate product information available online to help sell our industry’s products.

Right now, the benefits of an industry-wide Data Cooperative are within our grasp, thanks to advancements in information technology and a lot of work done by the SEMA Business Technology Committee and the Board of Directors. This project is vitally important for our industry.

In July, the SEMA Board of Directors approved funding to create the SEMA Data Cooperative, and to develop services at either end of the data pool to make it easier for manufacturers to post product information and for channel partners to find it and use it.

We are now in the process of testing the components of the SEMA Data Cooperative with small groups of manufacturers to find out what they think of the structure and its capabilities. Our current goal is to verify that what our team has put together serves the industry as a whole in a meaningful and cost-effective way. Equally important will be to find out if members would be willing to go to the trouble of converting to it.

The Data Cooperative we are preparing to deliver will be a manufacturer-supported, receiver-friendly data repository, with a number of significant benefits:

  • It gives manufacturers control of their parts data. Nobody sees the data unless the manufacturer authorizes it. The manufacturer that posts the data retains all rights to its own data, which will be delivered to authorized receivers only, completely controlled down to the SKU level.
  • It cleans up data that may already be in the marketplace and creates a new mechanism to push parts data to market as efficiently as possible.
  • The system would give receivers access to all manufacturer product data at little or no cost. Wholesalers and retailers can become receivers of data at no cost just by signing up.
  • SEMA will support the project start-up, with the goal of creating a data pool containing all manufacturers and brands—with complete and up-to-date data. The SEMA Data Cooperative will eventually hold data from most of the manufacturers in the industry.

This represents a substantial investment. SEMA has a role to play in assembling project leadership and industry support to ensure development of this much-needed piece of industry infrastructure.

The initiative will be staffed by technically competent experts and led by industry-savvy leadership.

This kind of cooperative is a big idea. But we believe something on this scale is needed to help our industry grow, increase sales, save time and money and resolve the data headaches we live with now.

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