The more you dig into technology issues in distribution, the less it seems to be about bits and bytes, and the more it is about process. That was reinforced two weeks ago at an industry e-business conference in Vancouver, sponsored by IDEA, the official standards-creating body for the electrical industry.
A panel session at the conference addressed the difficulties with getting an industry to adopt standards and collaborate more. The fact is there is no right answer for all the different niche vertical sectors across distribution. This is and will remain a highly fragmented industry. That’s why certain software providers do well in certain sectors with their feature sets, while others do well elsewhere. Even more specifically, there are good technology fits depending on the type of company structure and culture in place.
The panel set a great tone for the conference because it framed the real issues out there. It’s about adopting the technology tool sets out there today to improve process. It takes top management to drive it through the company. There can be groups like IDEA pushing and educating the industry on smarter use of technology, but the real change happens at the company level, where management gets the concept of how to leverage specific tools to increase profitability or differentiate their competitive position in the market.
We aren’t quite at a tipping point in distribution channels when it comes to technology adoption, but it has shifted significantly from even 12-18 months ago. Our own increased traffic to www.mdm.com bears out that people are using technology tools, including online information services like ours, to access industry and educational resources much more today.
This was the eighth year in the ten-year history of IDEA that they have held this type of conference. IDEA is a joint venture of the National Association of Electrical Distributors, the National Electrical Manufacturer Representatives Association, and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.
On a similar note, the Industrial Supply Association (ISA) is sponsoring its eBusiness Summit Oct. 16-17, at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, MN. Register or learn more here