We caught up with Matt Fancourt and Peter Eales from KOIOS Master Data to talk to them about the product data survey they have launched. If you would like to participate, the link to the survey is at the end of this interview.
Matt attended the BearingNet User Meeting in 2018 and will be well known to our members. He had the opportunity to meet and learn from so many experienced distributors. On the other hand, Peter has worked in industrial distribution even before BearingNet was formed.
The first conversations with Peter and BearingNet, was just after BearingNet was formed and were all about how KOIOS Master Data could help map and normalise the part number data received from distributors to make searching for a product easier. Of course, now, with the impressive number of members, plus the increase in the range of products stocked, the “common language” issue is even more acute.
In this article we spoke to Peter and Matt about the reasons behind their survey and the bigger plans for KOIOS Master Data.
So Peter, can you explain what the survey is about and what made you decide to launch it?
The goal of the survey is to understand and record the challenges distributors have obtaining and managing good quality product data from Manufacturers.
We have long believed that the quality of data in the industry could be improved, and the survey is designed to see if that belief is correct. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that the industry agrees that the exchange of product data could be improved, but there are no facts to back this up.
Additionally, we hope that by making it an annual survey we can measure the improvement in the quality and exchange of product data in the sector, year by year.
We also believe that the timing of this is very important. Digital transformation is a buzz-phrase in industrial circles these days, but a lot of organisations are unsure how they can benefit from it.
When our members talk about digital transformation, they are often referring to setting up e-stores. BearingNet has been encouraging distributors to link up with us to increase the reach and success of their e-stores. Do you think the results of this survey would help e-stores?
We do. The success of any e-store is proportional to the quality of the product data and how easy it is to find the product you are looking for.
We believe Manufacturers should share their product data in an easy to consume way for the entire supply chain. This is the challenge that everyone in the industrial supply chain faces, and distributors are in the middle of this, sandwiched between the manufacturers and the end-users.
We have held extensive conversations with manufacturers at PDTA and EPTDA events, and they all understand the logic of the data chain that runs alongside the supply chain, but they need a helping hand to persuade their top directors that they will also benefit from opening up their data.
Do you plan to use the results of the survey to get the manufacturers to open up their data?
Hopefully, yes. What manufacturers tell us is that there is no evidence of demand from distributors. We disagree, and it also misses the point. We know that there is demand from distributors and there is also a big demand from end-users for quality master data in their maintenance and stores systems. As we said earlier, the anecdotal evidence is there, and what this survey should tell us, is whether there is a real demand.
And the point is that the “single version of the truth” should originate from the manufacturer and then be used to inform the whole supply chain.
Manufacturers often exchange the data with distributors now in the form of price files. Is that not sufficient?
Not in our opinion. Digital transformation requires rich product data that can be searched by its attributes, not just the part number. Price files do not contain sufficient product data.
The days when people understood all the part number nomenclatures are long gone. Now that machines are used to extract that information, the requirement from data users is for richer, structured data.
So, are you saying that all the parties in the supply chain can gain from richer, structured data?
Yes. Rich data has benefits for everyone. For distributors it means better e-stores that sell more products, for end-users it means better equipment and spare parts data and for everyone it means a boost in productivity from time saved searching through poor quality data.
Indeed. The distributors play a vital role in this, and that is why it is important to hear what they have to say. Individual distributors hold more lines of data than individual end-users or individual manufacturers. It takes a lot of effort to manage. Hopefully, if the BearingNet members from around the globe contribute to this effort, they will be the biggest winners.
So, the aim is to get as many companies from our network to contribute as possible?
Yes, as many companies as possible, and not just one person from each company. We really want multiple people from each company to complete the survey. Each person in an organisation will have a different view of product data and how useful it is to them. So, the views of the inside sales team are just as relevant as the views of the data or IT teams at each distributor.
You can access it directly using this link, it only takes 5 minutes to complete, but the results could make your life a lot easier in the future. – https://koiosmasterdata.com/mro-distributor-product-data-survey/
That’s been a real insight for us thank you and I am confident our members will be intrigued to learn more too! It’s great to learn of the positive changes this could lead to and we look forward to hearing the survey results and progress you are making soon!
You can contact Matt and Peter via email, or via the website: