By Taylor Mitchell, Senior Vice President, Technology and Standards, Auto Care Association
Spring is one of my favorite times in the auto care industry – second, of course, to AAPEX! Every April, a group of smart and dedicated individuals gathers to learn, share, collaborate and have a lot of fun. The Automotive Content Professionals Network (ACPN), a community of the Auto Care Association, just wrapped its 46th Annual Knowledge Exchange in Tampa, Fla. with record attendance, and packed learning sessions and trade show floor. This year, more than ever, the message was clear: the automotive aftermarket must expect more, and we must evolve more quickly than ever before.
Standards may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of innovation, evolution and expecting more. However, standards are a vital part of the conversation. Groups such as W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) define standards for the web. The W3C’s mission is to lead the web to its full potential. That is a bold mission, and it can only happen with dedicated thought leaders and innovators who understand the importance of standards and understand that this work leads to even more innovation and transformation. Industry defined standards are just as critical. Standards like ACES (Aftermarket Catalog Exchange Standard) and PIES (Product Information Exchange Standard) streamline communication and data flow between trading partners. The mission that drives the development and evolution of the industry standards is to grow revenue and margin for our members throughout the auto care industry by eliminating communication barriers among trading partners, improving the quality of product content, and broadening the industry’s reach to new markets.
The building blocks for automotive content and cataloging is an industry-developed suite of common data elements and data standards, most notably ACES and PIES. Having a credible standard starts with openness and transparency around the process and the outcome. It also takes collaboration by many different experts who provide input and reach consensus. The output of all that hard work is common data elements and data standards like ACES and PIES.
These building blocks enable more efficient communication between trading partners, which ensures that the right product gets to the customer. These building blocks also help you understand and analyze your data and make meaningful data-driven decisions to optimize your supply chain.
Our ACPN members understand the value and opportunity that come when companies commit to using and growing industry data standards. Without a common language, the pace of business slows, and scaling products, services and other offerings become a time and resource intensive process. This becomes even more apparent as companies operate and expand into the global marketplace.
With that global marketplace in mind, the Auto Care Association, in partnership with IHS Markit, announced the 2019 release of UniLink™. Building on everything that has been learned in standards development over the last 20+ years and working with global experts at IHS Markit and other leading global companies in our industry, UniLink™ will be the first industry-developed global vehicle identification solution for the aftermarket. UniLink™ will be another tool in your toolbox of industry standards and offerings that will help you create better insights and optimize your business like never before. Get connected to the over 1.4 billion global vehicles!
Nowhere is that global marketplace better personified than at AAPEX. To attend this year’s event, register now on the AAPEX 2019 website, aapexshow.com/attendee. As you walk the floor, talk with your trading partners and look at innovations and solutions, and demand more. Ask your current and potential vendors if they are using the building blocks of industry standards that you and your company have invested in over the years. Protect your future investments with a commitment to proven industry standards and solutions like ACES, PIES, UniLink™ and many more.
For more information about the industry-developed standards and common data elements, visit https://www.autocare.org/what-we-do/technology/product-areas/technology-products/.