SEMA Data Co-op Offers Members Improved User Interface

SEMA News—December 2017 

SEMA Data Co-op Offers Members Improved User Interface

  SEMA Data Co-op
PIMS v2.0 was introduced at the 2017 SEMA Show. For those who missed the introduction at the Show, there is an online training library that explains how to navigate the system and, as always, the Data Lab can provide training sessions to SDC members any time afterward.

At the 2017 SEMA Show, the SDC rolled out a completely refreshed user interface. Members who received demonstrations at the Show saw a Product Information Management System (PIMS) that offers more functionality, features and information than ever before. Now, members log-in to their dashboard to view the status of their account at a glance, and review exports, data health, new members and more. The SDC development team has also enabled new methods of communication to facilitate better interactions between suppliers and receivers.

For those who could not receive an orientation of the new PIMS v2.0 at the SEMA Show, SEMA News offers the following interview:

SEMA News: The SEMA Data Co-op (SDC) has had its product information management system (PIMS) operational since 2013. Why was now the right time for an extensive overhaul?

SEMA Data Co-op: The original PIMS version did an excellent job of putting the foundational pieces in place to validate, store and export data. But the time has come to scale it to accommodate the fast-paced growth of our membership. We had outgrown pieces that we started with five years ago. It was time that we made PIMS more than just a utility to drop an import or grab an export file. We want to create a community experience to promote more supplier/receiver interaction—a place that is easy to ask questions, share feedback and use as a learning center. There is a lot of depth to the industry standards that is under-utilized, and we felt that we could improve upon the original version to facilitate better data content and an improved user experience.

SN: What types of supplier/receiver interaction are you creating?

SDC: We have built-in tools that allow suppliers and receivers to send notifications and messages easily. We are also developing a moderated forum that users can post and answer to. Further, we implemented a rating system that allows receivers to rate and share feedback with suppliers regarding their data content.

SN: Technology changes rapidly. That probably factored into the decision for upgrading the PIMS also, correct?

SDC: Yes. We want to keep our system up-to-date with a modern feel. There were processes that we felt could be simplified, saving time from the original version, lending increased efficiency and an improvement in the overall user experience. PIMS v2.0 is not only streamlined but also expanded.

SN: Expanded in what ways?

SDC: The first-version PIMS had fairly limited capability to make changes to your data directly in the user interface. Now you can access detailed reports about your data, turn right around with that information and edit the PIES or ACES fields right on the screen, and send a notification to your key receivers without ever needing to leave the interface. We’ve also added dashboards that show activity information.

If you are logged in as a supplier, you see details on what is happening with your data, such as what imports are running or the number of times your data has been exported this month. It also shows who your top exporters are and how they are rating your data. As a receiver, your dashboard will show quick insights on your export statistics and activity as well as key supplier data changes. Actually, we’ve included so many things that it’s difficult to summarize them all here.

SN: A high percentage of the development work done on the system is through member feedback. How has that influenced the project this year?

SDC: Receivers are pushing suppliers for increased data quality and more accuracy in the data content. We felt that we could help facilitate that by giving suppliers access to their own scorecards and data health reporting, providing them with more details about their content. When small changes are needed, a supplier can make changes directly to our new online part editor. We have also modified our old ACES mapper into an easier-to-use fitment builder that allows you to add or change applications online. Now you can add qualifiers, positions or even market copy without ever having to touch a spreadsheet!

SN: You’ve talked a lot about data management tasks that can now be done right on the screen. Does this mean that the SDC no longer takes data in spreadsheets or other formats?

SDC: No, we still have all the same offline tools. We just expanded beyond them to allow data changes to be made online. We’ve had a lot of feedback from users who prefer working online over spreadsheets. This accommodates those who prefer to make updates visually. But, as always, text and XML files will still import as usual.

SN: More than a year ago, it was announced that the SDC has application programming interface (API) functionality. How does that work, and are there any users?

SDC: Yes, we are steadily gaining users on our various API methods. This is a very efficient method to use for populating year/make/model lookups on websites or to display data content or product images right from our cloud. As a data receiver, if you don’t want to be in the business of managing data, this is a perfect alternative. We’ve seen our APIs being integrated in a handful of really creative ways.

SN: How can users become more familiar with this new version of the PIMS?

SDC: Our official introduction of PIMS v2.0 was at the 2017 SEMA Show. For those who missed us at the Show, we have an online training library that explains how to navigate the system and, as always, our Data Lab can provide training sessions to SDC members any time afterward. We want to work with each member to make this transition as smooth as possible for
all users.

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