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Building a Future-Proof Data Platform for the IAM

In this interview, Jürgen Mehlis, Executive Vice President of Data Manager Products at TecAlliance, provides insights on how to build a future-proof platform for the automotive aftermarket. However, before we dive into that, let us explore how the TecDoc business unit is positioning itself to stay competitive, support customers in their digitisation journeys and deliver a seamless shopping experience.

Jürgen, you became Vice President Solution and Platform Management in September 2014, and now you lead Global TecDoc Product Development. The industry has been going through significant changes — data volume growth, faster new product Introductions, increased speed to market. How do these changes impact your area of responsibility?

Well, I have petrol in my blood and my heart has been beating to the rhythm of the independent automotive aftermarket (IAM) for more than 35 years. The requirements for the strategic and organisational direction of data management have changed within the past decade and continue to undergo significant transformation.

This transformation mirrors the changes within the industry itself, marked by the rise of new mobility concepts, autonomous driving, digitisation, and alternative drive types. Car manufacturers continually introduce innovations and advancements in vehicle design. This results in vast amounts of data and higher complexity due to the substantial number of new and modified vehicle configurations and replacement parts.

In the past, the data for the TecDoc Catalogue was processed quarterly. The processing periods first shortened to monthly data submission, then weekly and finally real-time data processing with our new Instant Data Processing (IDP) solution. This shift to real-time data processing has become our new reality.

Furthermore, as technology advances, the concept of Big Data is on everyone’s lips. Data streams are flowing faster and faster. We face the challenge of exploring, processing, and refining different data formats. Different languages and regional formats, such as ACES and PIES or MAM next to the Global TecDoc Standard, make the customers’ work even more challenging.

To address these challenges, we have developed our new Global Product Information Management System (PIM) called TecDoc ONE. This is a powerful solution to support our customers in the standardisation and management of their product data on a local, regional, and global scale. Adapting to the evolving needs of our customers is crucial for us.

The TecAlliance umbrella brand comprises four product families: TecDoc, TecCom, TecRMI and TecFleet. TecDoc stands for data & solutions based on the world’s leading automotive parts data standard for the IAM. Jürgen, in your opinion, what measures are necessary to maintain this leading market position and enable growth at the same time?

TecDoc is a globally recognised brand. When we talk about the global data standard in the IAM, TecDoc is the name that resonates. With the “Back to Tec” rebranding initiative, we have made our product portfolio easier for our customers to understand by establishing a clear hierarchy and naming conventions.

We all know that the aftermarket is going online. Digitally driven products and services are setting latest trends and will be the main growth drivers for the market. Customers expect a user-friendly e-commerce platform for the automotive aftermarket. This is where we want and need to be ahead.

And now, considering the digital expansion, the importance of high-quality data to identify and order products is growing even further. The workshops & garages must be able to identify the part in the best possible standardised way. We want to increase customer confidence in buying online: more orders with fewer returns, making unique spare part identification a reality. With the Data Quality Management (DQM) Initiative, we are continuing to strengthen the data quality of TecDoc.

Freely adapted from Aristotle: “The whole is more than the sum of its parts”. Jürgen, which added value can we offer customers through integration?

At TecDoc, our customers are at the centre of our thinking and actions. To deliver a better experience to our customers, the TecDoc business unit has started a transformation that has already brought tangible results. We have restructured our Commercial Division structure to introduce Business Focus Teams located near our customers. We have also reviewed our product portfolio and re-examined the Value Proposition, bringing more value to our customers by focusing on their specific needs.

Given our extensive connections with nearly all key players in the IAM, our aim is to offer the optimal one-stop solution for all participants. Through the integration of TecCom, TecDoc, and TecRMI solutions within a single web application, we have developed the TecDoc Trade Portal. This is a unified platform that brings together all B2B participants in the IAM value chain. This solution is tailored to address specific market requirements and customer needs.

Jürgen, please tell us more about the TecDoc Trade Portal?

The TecDoc Trade Portal combines the capabilities of three TecAlliance solutions: TecDoc, TecRMI and TecCom – all seamlessly connected via “Single Sign-On” functionality. The customer logs on once and can then access all our solutions. This allows customers to identify spare parts, supported by technical data from TecRMI, in one place and seamlessly buy them via TecCom from suppliers participating in the trade portal. This convenient shopping experience shows how our one-stop shop solution is more than the sum of its parts.

Thank you, Jürgen, for sharing your insights! Any concluding thoughts for us?

As we conclude, I would like to mention that we are proud that our customers see us as the crucial point of contact, with the knowledge and expertise to help them manage their catalogue data and provide them with a broad range of data solutions. Nevertheless, we are committed to further reinventing ourselves to continue to shape the Global Independent Automotive Aftermarket in the future together with our customers. We will do this by finding innovative and efficient ways to manage, process, and standardise product data for all participants in the aftermarket.