Every company in every level of the Foodservice Equipment channel has IT assets and broadband service exponentially more powerful than a few years ago. But without a standard for data interchange, the exchange of data from manufacturers to dealers is still bartered using faxes and emails. While work in a dealership, expediting orders is a mundane, tedious, and exacting task. For millennials who have a passion for a career in our industry designing and building very hot, very cool commercial kitchens, the dull monotony of chasing order statuses desensitizes their jobs.
Now, to the excitement and relief of the FEDA board and the entire Dealer community, there is a FEDA Data Interchange Initiative to define, create, and support unified data standards for sharing order status information online. With this initiative, IT departments will write API's for their ERP's, OS's will talk to other OS's, mainframes will talk to mobile devices, and, finally, the channel will have a common dictionary.
We have received letters of encouragement from many dealers and manufacturers who are eager to see the startup of the Initiative. Here's a paragraph in a letter last week from Eric Ellingson.
"With AutoQuotes providing the platform for meaningful data interchange between dealer and manufacturer, our organization will be able to confidently communicate lead times, stock levels, order statuses, and shipping updates from various stakeholders. For our territory staff, it will continue to make them more efficient. For our Contract department, it will allow for better coordination and timing of installation crews. And for our warehousing staff, it will allow them to plan out the oscillating nature of staging and receiving large product volumes. All around, it is going to enable us to continue to take care of customers better than we do today. I greatly appreciate your assistance in making our organization, and our industry as a whole, more relevant to the customer of the next generation."
We are tasked by FEDA to assist in the design for the data standards, to promote the value of this technology, and to provide our infrastructure as a secure platform to begin the data interchange from manufacturers to dealers (and to reps and to consultants and to service agents). Like every IT project, as soon as the FEDA Data Interchange is successful, it will surely be torn apart and built again, iterating again and again to leverage the continuous advancement of technology. What is important is that FEDA has set a standard. The channel will build an ecosystem around it and data will have a new currency.