SEMA News—January 2014

BUSINESS Technology
By Jon Wyly

Waiting to Make a Decision About Data Management?

Vulnerability Awaiting Plunder

“With data collection, ‘the sooner the better’ is always the best answer.”—Marissa Mayer

Jon WylyIt’s a simple truth in today’s business environment: Data is driving business like never before, whether it’s data about customers, products, competitors or any number of other factors that determine how well informed we are. For those of us in the automotive specialty-equipment trade, “data” is typically talked about in terms of product data—all of the properly presented words, numbers and pictures that illustrate the full rich value, function and desirability of a particular product.

Oddly, the automotive segment is still predominately a paper-catalog world when it comes to presenting products, and “data” is often just a file of random digital copy and images used to produce the paper catalogs. However, for the younger generations (and even many of us older folks), paper catalogs are rapidly becoming passé, and electronically delivered information (data) is now part of the lifestyle. One could say that attention spans have decreased, but today’s mantra of “give me the information I need, make it accurate, and make it fast or my dollars will go to someone who can do just that” is a harsh reality. I guess that explains why more than 50% of consumers now research potential purchases online before buying, regardless of whether they buy locally or on the web.

It sounds as though you’ll need to get busy making data about your products available to resellers across your customer base if you’re going to compete and prosper in this “fast information” age, doesn’t it? So where do we start?

The SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) was created as a not-for-profit subsidiary of SEMA specifically to help collect, validate, store and distribute product data in a very consistent, organized, efficient manner. If you can gather your bits and pieces of product data, the staff at the SDC will take whatever you have to start with and begin the process of pushing it into industry standard (ACES and PIES) templates. From there, an iterative back-and-forth conversation will begin to help you fill in the blanks, and you will be on your way to developing a sharable, standards-compliant data set. That initial “clean” data set will form the basis for a robust, well-maintained library of your products, fueling resellers to promote your goods to the millions of people seeking to solve a problem or satisfy a want.


To learn more about how you can take control of your product data and manage it at the lowest possible cost, contact SEMA Data Co-op Director of Membership Jim Graven at 888-958-6698 x4.  

Think of product data management as a journey, not an event. Once your data is stored securely in the SDC repository, you manage its continued growth and development using state-of-the-art online tools that will ensure compliance to industry-standard rules. And you own the result 100%. From there, any customer you approve can get unlimited data feeds on whatever schedule they like, relieving you of any “load sheet” creation.

So why wait? “The sooner the better” is definitely the best answer to growing your business through effective product data management.

Oh, and for those of you who didn’t recognize the name of the author in our opening quote, Mayer is the 38-year-old president and CEO of Yahoo. She was ranked as the 14th most influential woman in business by Forbes magazine in 2012. I’d say she has her finger on the pulse.

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