MISSION VIEJO, CA — When hockey legend Wayne Gretzky was asked what made him such a great player, he replied “Most people skate to where the puck is; I skate to where the puck is going to be.”
His quote was included in a book entitled “It’s Not the Big that Eat the Small…It’s the Fast that Eat the Slow: How to Use Speed as a Competitive Tool in Business,” by Jason Jennings and Laurence Haughton. The authors go on to write that his thought is the difference between anticipation and fortune-telling.
Are you speeding ahead in the fast lane or letting others pass you? We don’t have a crystal ball, but we do work hard to anticipate the future needs of our clients, within the context of examining historical patterns, analyzing current business trends and envisioning the future. Many paradigm shifts — the changes in business models that affect how we conduct commerce — occur now faster than they have in the past. It’s usually difficult to see them occurring while the process is actually taking place, but the changes are obvious when looking back at the progression — kind of like looking at a series of old photographs of yourself.
Each business era has paradigms driven by technology which embody new and innovative sets of economic structures and business relationships. Firms which anticipate, recognize and embrace the new paradigms are eventually emulated as prototypes by other companies because they have put in place and perfected the most efficient and most profitable relationship between the latest state-of-the-art technology, the work conducted by the organization and the new shape of the market.
A pattern of major business paradigm shifts in the past can be seen from today’s perspective. In the 19th century, railroads and shipping lines and how and where they distributed goods and people set the standards for conducting business; throughout most of the 20th century, automobile manufacturers (“How goes General Motors, so goes the nation”) and airlines reshaped business practices; and in the late 20th century, it was the universality of computerized business tools led by Microsoft and the emergence of the Internet and sophisticated telecommunications that propelled businesses to transform themselves.
Right now, today, perhaps no other industry is as poised and ready to transform itself as the automotive aftermarket parts and service industry to leverage technology usage to dramatically enhance productivity and boost bottom-line performance.
That’s why we took the opportunity, after publishing three months worth of weekly columns, to ask our readers what they would like us to discuss in the next three months. The responses were interesting and thought provoking. Here’s a general recap of what we’ve covered so far and, based upon your feedback, topics for the near future:
Computerized Business Management Systems
We’ve discussed their ROI potential; the significance of partnering with a visionary systems provider specializing in the needs of our industry; available platforms and architecture; and current and future features and functionality to empower your business. We plan to delve more heavily into their connectivity between supply chain tiers and their use in helping to manage customer credit and receivables.
Parts Businesses adding Service Facilities
We’ve discussed how technology can enable new business opportunities that you might not have considered in the past and plan to follow-up with more real-world examples of this trend.
Technology-based Ordering Processes
We’ve covered how the use of the Internet can improve the ordering process and plan to offer more compelling reasons to leverage that technology now in your business.
Use of Data
We’ve discussed the competitive advantage offered by the ability to access, analyze, sort, consolidate and share data where and when it’s needed between personnel and firms. We’ve introduced the concept of “Return on Customer Investment.” We plan to dive deeper into the breadth and depth of data and how it can be capitalized upon.
Inventory Management and Practices
We’ve discussed the pros and cons of Vendor Managed Inventory; the concept of Virtual Inventory Networks; and evaluating the costs of managing your inventory. We plan to write about Warehouse Management Systems and consignment inventory, as well as, associated technology initiatives that improve productivity, cut costs and speed delivery processes.
Technology as a Profit Center and Productivity Tool
We’ve discussed formless printing and direct electronic communication via e-mail and e-fax in a paperless environment. We’ve covered wireless technology and hand-held devices for use by your personnel. We plan to offer other examples, such as sales force automation technologies that may apply to your business.
We plan to discuss technology available to help you better understand your market and the concept of Customer Relationship Management as it applies to our industry.
We plan to discuss how technology provides the weapon to seize opportunities to grow across geographic boundaries and effectively and efficiently manage multi-site parts and service enterprises.
We know your time is important and we are committed to providing you with timely information to benefit your business.
We continue to love to get your responses to our weekly questions, hear your thoughts on the topics that we post, suggestions for additional questions, and anything you’d like to share. Send us an email at:
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“DST Asks” is written and sponsored by DST Inc. The opinions expressed in “DST Asks” articles appearing on aftermarketNews.com do not necessarily reflect the opinions of AMN or Babcox Publications.