The most important currency of the future? Data. If a company wants to remain future-proof, it has to be able to identify clients’ wishes before they are expressed. And a company needs to be able to access the relevant market data for this purpose. This is precisely what brake manufacturer SBS Automotive achieved for its B2B ‘NK’ brand; this was done using an ingenious combination of multiple solutions provided by TecAlliance.
The best, the fastest, the most efficient – the digital transformation covers just about every superlative in the language. The digital arms race has been in full swing for a few years now. Even today, one can identify a handful of victors. One such winning combination is the combination of SBS Automotive and its ‘NK’ home brand for B2B business.
Founded in 1964, SBS is a corporation that possesses a treasure trove of experience, and which spotted the signs of the times at an early stage: “We make deliveries in Germany, France and Denmark within 24 hours and throughout Europe in 48 -72 hours and attach great importance to the fulfilment of our clients’ wishes”, explains Lars Sendal From, sales executive/CSO of SBS Automotive. “At the same time, we also keep a close eye on the market. In order to further strengthen our position in Europe, we had to optimise our data management system.” What’s more: in the case of NK, in addition to its own information, SBS Automotive also wanted to use all of the collected and processed information regarding the new vehicles, in order to tap the full potential of the market.
Against this background, SBS Automotive definitely did the right thing when it knocked on TecAlliance’s door: The globally-active data management specialist possesses an extensive data corpus, which is made up of vehicle master data, OE data and a car parc database (VIO – Vehicles in Operation). In this regard, TecAlliance provides support pertaining to both the management and the analysis of the data. With regard to NK, SBS Automotive was thus able to design the processes in a simpler and more efficient manner. It also gained a more extensive and more nuanced overview of market potential that had yet to be tapped. The TecAlliance Vehicle Data Portal (on which the VIO are disclosed) alone contains more than a billion registered vehicles from six geographical regions. It also covers more than 60 identifying characteristics for the vehicles.
“We are now in a position to check our portfolio for gaps and respond to clients’ wishes that haven’t even been sent our way yet”
Anette Poulsen, Global Product Management & Customer Support, SBS Automotive
Using the right solutions to keep ever-expanding data volumes under control
“SBS Automotive sought a better view of global markets – We were able to provide that”, explains Camiel Cobben, Business Consultant at TecAlliance Netherlands. For more than 20 years, TecAlliance has been accompanying and assisting all the relevant players in the independent automotive aftermarket (IAM) in the task of using commercial opportunities to establish new business models and design processes in a more efficient manner. This covers the development of data-driven solutions, as well as extensive consultation services that encompass everything related to effective business processes. TecAlliance collects the latest data from automotive suppliers, spare part manufacturers, associations, government agencies and institutions throughout the world – The data that is collected includes everything from vehicle data, product data and extensive information about maintenance and repairs to regional vehicle fleet data and market statistics.
This information is collected and captured in a uniform and integrable form by TecAlliance’s technical experts. Alternatively, it is supplied directly by the industry and trade sectors – In this case, the information is processed by TecAlliance. The TecAlliance data suppliers use the globally-recognised ‘TecDoc Standard’ data standard to provide their top-quality spare part data in a uniform form and in the highest quality. The TecDoc Catalogue is one of the world’s leading motor vehicle spare part databases.
“The first order of business is to understand the client’s data structure and content ”, explains TecAlliance’s Camiel Cobben. “In case of SBS Automotive, the implementation of our CCU solution was a wonderful intensive collaboration between both teams. Standardizing, and integrating all existing data for their multiple brands was a successful achievement”. The collaboration started when SBS chose the TecDoc Catalogue. That was in 2001. The business relationship gradually became closer. This was primarily due to the growth in the digital automotive aftermarket: Data became ever more valuable. And suitable solutions for keeping the ever-expanding data volumes under control became more and more important.
“A lot has happened since 2001. We had to change our way of thinking and searched for solutions that would enable us to efficiently integrate and analyse our own data, as well as external data”, explains Lars Sendal From. “With an area of 12000 square metres, our central warehouse in Eisenach has room for more than 20,000 item numbers. We introduced a modern WMS featuring paperless order processing. That in itself translates to a much larger volume of data that needs to be processed. We then needed a suitable software solution, in order to be able to integrate the vehicle fleet data and the vehicle manufacturers’ parts information into our data pool.” While searching for suitable solutions, SBS Automotive quite naturally approached TecAlliance, which had been its partner for several years.
Reimagining the entire product development process
It quickly became clear that the situation would involve the premium solution from the TecAlliance portfolio, i.e. the CCU data management tool. Why? Since CCU
- facilitates one-hundred per cent accuracy in OE data research,
- contains thoroughly-integrated parts information from the vehicle manufacturers (OE) and vehicle fleet data (VIO),
- and provides various data export formats, such as TecDoc Standard, MAM or ACES/PIES.
All the relevant data for the cataloguing activities is thus available in one high-performance solution. It quickly became clear what SBS Automotive would have to change and adapt: Everything. “Not a stone was left standing”, laughs Anette Poulsen, who is responsible for SBS Automotive’s global product management & customer support. “Since each department was supposed to work with the data from the CCU, we had to rethink the entire product development process. We had to replace the existing data solutions, which in turn led to a total reorganisation. In the end, the sales department was networked into the whole as well.”
The organisation has now turned into a more close-knit entity. CCU now makes it possible to carry out the tasks of planning new developments and monitoring and simultaneously analysing the market in a more efficient and comprehensive manner. “We are now in a position to check our portfolio for gaps and respond to clients’ wishes that haven’t even been sent our way yet”, explains Anette Poulsen. The so-called ‘gap analysis’ makes this possible. CCU offers a 360-degree view of the market. “Thanks to the comprehensive input of OE and VIO data, SBS now knows exactly how many vehicles are in operation with which parts. They know all the details, and can run an analysis to find out which characteristics specific products need to have in order to fulfil this or that client wish”, explains Camiel Cobben. “This also makes it possible to evaluate competitors and assess your own position in the market.”
The market of the future
Regardless of the direction in which the market evolves, one thing’s for certain: The demand for high-value data and a reliable validation of this information will continue to increase. “It’s essential for us to be able to keep our data under control flexibly and dynamically”, says Anette Poulsen. “We keep an eye on new developments and adapt if necessary. We have successfully experienced how this works in recent years – With a strong partner at our side.” That this collaboration should extend into the future is self-evident from TecAlliance’s point of view as well: “We’re always ready to provide our clients with consultations and support, regardless of whether they need our help in their data management operations before, during or after the implementation of our solutions”, promises Camiel Cobben. In addition to the Data Onboarding Service for new data suppliers and the Data Update Service for established data suppliers, TecAlliance has a range of consulting services available upon request if they are needed. The data specialist is always ready to support its clients with individual training sessions, product training and workshops. With the Analytics Manager, TecAlliance also offers standardised analyses and reporting services for more extensive market and potential analyses.
About SBS Automotive and NK
SBS Automotive is one of two business divisions of the SBS Group A/S, which also includes SBS Friction. SBS Automotive covers distribution of a broad range of brake components, steering parts, wheel bearings and related wear parts for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.SBS Friction’s core competence lies in the development and production of brake pads for (for example) motorcycles, wind turbines, ATV’s, Scooters and the motor sports sector.
Car spare parts are distributed through branches in Germany, Denmark and France. The corporation possesses three European sales platforms: The Eisenach facility in Germany, the Støvring facility in Denmark and the Chaumont facility in France. SBS uses these platforms to deliver the entire range of products bearing the NK brand name to wholesale customers all over Europe, Russia, Turkey and the Middle East.