Thursday, July 20, 2006

AAIA Aftermarket eForum

Just got back from a two day visit to Chicago for the AAIA's (Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association) Aftermarket eForum conference. As far as conferences go, the AAIA did a great job pulling together very compelling content and top companies/players in the parts industry. What makes an auto parts conference compelling you ask? Well, this whole web services thing is catching fire in a bigger way with huge, traditional markets than most conceive.

EDI has been a long-standing standard in the automotive industry for data interchange among companies able to afford EDI usage. Recently, the efforts of the AAIA (and other key associations) to enable a standard classification of parts (via PIES and ACES) has resulted in material adoption of these standards across the repair & replace parts market. Standardization of product classifications is a key element to driving the use of web services for data integration among part vendors and customers. The availability of web services makes EDI-type data integration with suppliers/customers more readily available and far less expensive to businesses of any size given the XML/SOAP/REST standards used for APIs today.

There was a surprising number of references to the use of web services for part suppliers and manufacturers at the conference, and wider acceptance among conference attendees that this was an important aspect to improving their future business practices. That said, in some of my one-to-one conversations with distributors and manufacturers, there was also a general frustration with third party applications not offering web services as a direct part of their applications' offering. A hint to all developers out there with an interest in online parts & accessories sales... web services seems to have crossed an inflection point here.


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