Data Standardization: Why It’s Important and How Do We Get There?
By Stephanie Jones, Director of e-Business, SEMA Data Co-op
Getting started with standardizing data can seem like a daunting task. With so many moving parts, we ask ourselves ‘where do I begin’?
Data Standardization is a critical component of doing business in the Aftermarket these days. Not having ACES and PIES compliant data has become a barrier to entry with many retailers. By standardizing your data, you are more efficiently powering Point-Of-Sale (POS) and e-commerce systems, reducing lost sales opportunities and streamlining inefficient data update processes. And, most importantly, strengthening customer relationships with quality, trusted content.
So, how do I begin? Once you have illustrated the benefits of data standardization to senior leadership in your company, there are a few key things that will help a sustainable process take shape.
First, outline a centralized data strategy. Learn who your resources are for the various types of content you’ll be organizing. You may be working across multiple departments or may have limited resources that could make prioritizing this work challenging. Identify the people, the processes and technology involved. Create processes to collect, store and standardize the content. What internal tools do you have or need? Do you need outside resources to help? By outlining a sustainable strategy, you can accomplish gathering and distributing content successfully.
Second, gain an understanding of aftermarket data standards. Familiarize yourself with the ACES & PIES technical documentation, supporting database structures and various mandatory and optional fields. Gain an understanding of the business-critical fields required by your data receivers. Then, determine how to align or create content that accurately describes your product and vehicle fitment. Some portions may be pulled directly from fields that already exist in internal systems, other content may need to be created from scratch.
Third, focus on quality data. Each resource needs to understand how important high-quality content is. This is a crucial piece in a solid data management strategy and will make the competitive difference for your products. Provide content that will help your resellers market, sell, and ship your product.
If you are not convinced you are ready to tackle standardization on your own, third-party resources are available. The SEMA Data Co-op is expert at guiding companies through establishing successful and sustainable data management practices. We are focused on helping SEMA members learn how data standardization can benefit your business. We also offer ‘Do-It-For-Me’ services.