Article > Opinion

Getting Your Arms Around Technology

By Jon S. Owens

Do your eyes glaze over at the mention of technology? Me too. But its our aftermarket duty to capitalize on technology.

In every July issue, Counterman editors dive into the vast sea of technology, certainly not the easiest of oceans to navigate.

I must admit that my own eyes gloss over after about two minutes worth of explanation from my IT folks about what might be wrong with our network. Sometimes I feel the same way about discussions over distribution channel technology. Nevertheless, its still important.

For me, technology is like going to the opera, I suppose. I'll never forget my one and only opera experience. I was excited to learn and to be entertained. I had great seats, I listened intently and followed the plot as best I could. Yet, after the show, I couldnt confidently explain what had happened, why it happened or when it happened, nor did I care. After struggling through about a third of the opera, I simply gave up. It could not keep my interest.

Which brings me back to technology. Our industry sits on the brink of massive technological change. We are excited about the prospect of greater efficiencies through technologically advanced systems. Weve got great seats (front row, in fact), and weve convinced ourselves that were ready, willing and able to learn. Yet, statistics tell us that many distribution businesses have not yet begun to embrace technology. In fact, according to the just-released Babcox Research 2003 Computer and Internet Study, 15 percent of Counterman readers still do not have access to the Internet (either at work or at home), and another 27 percent have access at home only. This means that 42 percent claim to not have access to the Internet at work!

For those of you who do have access at work, nearly 56 percent are still utilizing dial-up access. Whats worse, many of the respondents left the what type of connection do you have question blank, leading me to believe that they probably didnt know the answer.

So, whats the big deal about having access to the Internet at work? How is that going to help you find an O2 sensor for a 98 Mazda Millenia? These days, data is a necessary business tool. And, just as you rely on a warehouse facility for your parts, it is much more efficient for you to rely on a warehouse for data as well. Being able to access that data quickly and independently is exactly what the Internet is for.

Just as you send nightly or weekly orders to your servicing warehouse facilities for replenishment orders, you can automatically feed your data warehouse with information on a real-time basis. The Internet allows you to order data, and subsequently, replenish your warehouse with data, every minute of every day.

The bottom line is, technology is upon us, and we collectively need to understand and trust the basic elements of this phenomena in order to capitalize upon it. Because, just like the opera, this show will go on with or without you. Having great seats only improves the view. Understanding what you're seeing is the key to having a great time!

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