Data quality as a decisive competitive advantage

In the interview pt. II: Arnaud Portalez, Data Manager Europe at Corteco

CORTECO is one of the leading suppliers of components for the Independent Automotive Aftermarket. As a member of the global Freudenberg Group, the company supplies over 26,000 products in OEM quality. Independent garages trust in CORTECO spare parts and therefore benefit from the original quality made by Freudenberg.

CORTECO has manufacturing plants/ distribution centres in over 15 different countries, but through the Freudenberg Group, the company reaches customers in 60 countries around the world. 

We met Arnaud Portalez, Data Manager Europe at Corteco to talk about how important data quality is as a comparative competitive advantage.

Arnaud Portalez, Data Manager Europe at Corteco

TecAlliance: Hello, thank you very much, Arnaud, for taking the time today. Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself and what you do at Corteco?

Arnaud Portalez: Hello, my name is Arnaud Portalez, I am the data manager for Corteco in Europe and I am responsible for all issues related to data for our products.

TecAlliance: How long have you been with Corteco?

Arnaud Portalez: I started working at Corteco in 2006. I was a product manager for the first sales products and after 10 years I moved to data management at Corteco.

TecAlliance: Great. So you have a lot of experience with both the automotive aftermarket and dealing with data. Sebastian Timmer has already told us that data quality is almost as important today as product quality. So how has getting products to market changed in the last 15 years since you’ve been at Corteco?

Arnaud Portalez: Yes exactly, product quality is very important, but data quality is also an important factor for business success. That’s really increasing nowadays, you know, the digital world, and it’s really important to have the best data quality possible.

TecAlliance: And when do you intervene as a data team, so at an earlier stage of product development than 20 years ago?

Arnaud Portalez: Yes, exactly, when we develop a new product, we immediately take care of data quality. That’s really important for us to provide good quality for a product and not have warranty issues, as well as provide the best data quality in terms of information for our customers to make sure they can find the parts they’re looking for to repair the vehicle anywhere in the best possible way.

TecAlliance: As you know, we are currently trying to get your data into the catalogues even faster. In the past, or even currently, you could opt for a quarterly or monthly data update, but now our latest API is instant data processing, so as soon as you make a change to the data, it will be live for the market. Do you think this is the right way to go?

Arnaud Portalez: Oh yes, yes, this is exactly the right way. In the past, we updated the data quarterly, but the trend in the market has been to get it monthly. That’s really important for us because it helps us provide accurate and up-to-date data to our customers. We work every day at Corteco to improve all vehicle information regarding our products. And so, it’s very important that we can communicate that to our customers more frequently. So, I also like the idea of IDP as data processing because we can decide when we want to communicate new data and current data to our customers.

TecAlliance: You already talked about competition, that’s a situation we are in, because TecDoc is kind of a global standard for spare parts and so we provide a level playing field for everybody, but you as a company are in a very competitive market and it’s also important for you to differentiate yourself from your competitors. And that could be achieved through higher data quality. How important is that to you?

Arnaud Portalez: It’s critical. As you are saying we are in a very competitive environment and we have to deal with more and more competitors. What’s really important at TecDoc is standardization of data. That’s very important for our customers because they can have the same access to data information anywhere in the world. It helps us to provide the best possible service to our customers and, of course, to face our competitors, thanks to this standardization, which is now mandated by market requirements.

TecAlliance: That’s great, and I also have to congratulate you again, I also congratulated Sebastian already. You were one of the first companies to meet our new criteria for being designated as a premium data provider, what does that mean to you? On the one hand internally, who is doing really hard work and getting this recognition, but also for your company, how important is it to meet all these new KPIs?

Arnaud Portalez: Yes, thank you very much for the congratulations. It’s very important for us to be the first data supplier to be certified, and I have to say that when TecAlliance launched this project to improve data quality in TecDoc two years ago, I was very excited about it because it was really going in the direction that Corteco had already decided to go in order to improve data quality in TecDoc. To me it was a good sign that we were going in the right direction, the right way to improve the data, and it was something to say, yes, you did a good job, and it doesn’t mean that we have good data quality, but it means that TecAlliance is saying to our customers, we have checked the data of our data provider and we can confirm that they provide good data quality. That’s very important for us, that we can say we are certified in this area.

TecAlliance: And how do you experience working with TecAlliance, because I mean, for 15 years you and we have been in a kind of long-term relationship.

Arnaud Portalez: Yes, exactly, in 15 years I have seen the positive evolution, and I really like your question, because I would like to mention that with TecAlliance I have experienced a very different way of communication, and we have to say that we feel that you are very customer oriented and you really care about what we notice. I can give you a perfect example of the data quality project with TecAlliance’s data team. We work very closely together and for example we always review when you launch the new KPIs, we always discuss how to achieve those KPIs, what it means for a data provider to standardize our data, sometimes of course we have to make the right decision to correct some data, and that really happened in close collaboration. We have a contact person that we can always discuss or arrange a meeting with if we have questions. That’s very important, and I have to say that the communication with the data provider is the biggest improvement I’ve seen at TecAlliance.

TecAlliance: Looking back now at the last 15 years and perhaps at the present, I would like to ask you to conclude this interview. So, what lies ahead of us? What’s next for the industry, and how can advancing digitization and, in particular, product data quality help us meet future challenges?

Arnaud Portalez: Product and data quality is really going to increase dramatically because there are new vehicles, more and more vehicles, vehicles with more and more complexity and it’s going to be more and more difficult for data providers to understand or show the customer how they can differentiate the products. So, data quality is going to become more and more important in the digital world, and I already feel that you’re developing the right tours in TecAlliance with some of the products that you’re already promoting in some specific data supplier days. I really think you’re heading in the right direction for the right tours for you and your customers, and that’s going to be very useful for us as well, to use that tour to offer the best possible data to our customers.

TecAlliance: That sounds great and thank you very much for your time today, Arnaud. And don’t worry, there will always be new KPIs that we will work on and present to your team. We’ll keep you on your toes.