Next week’s Aftermarket eForum in Chicago, Ill., will kick off with talk of how mountain climbers can teach the aftermarket a thing or two about building a supply chain technology that works. According to Terry Ross, vice president of product development for Activant Solutions Inc., who will present the opening address at the forum on Tuesday, says the process of building an effective IT architecture is similar to the challenge of planning and executing a difficult climb. “It seems hard because it is hard,” Ross will tell the more than 325 aftermarket executives registered for this year’s event. “There’s no question it’s difficult and often uncomfortable, but it’s absolutely necessary given the competitive challenges facing this industry.” The only e-commerce conference dedicated to automotive aftermarket issues, the Aftermarket eForum is presented by the Automotive Aftermarket Industries Association, Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, Specialty Equipment Market Association, and the Automotive Industries Association of Canada. Activant is a primary sponsor of the annual event. Ross’s presentation, titled “Chimneys, Chutes and Chickenheads Scaling the Supply Chain Technology Challenge,” will help distributors chart a logical, “back-of-the-envelope” strategy for achieving their short- and long-term operational goals through a variety of supply chain technologies. “Like any serious climber, the aftermarket distributor needs a clear, frank understanding of the value and potential risks associated with every move,” Ross says. “It’s a complex process, but you should be able to easily map out a viable strategy by focusing on the activities, information flows and workflows that deliver the biggest bang for your buck.” Ross will provide distributors with the ability to craft a simplified, two-dimensional plan that represents the highest-value technology path for their businesses, according to Ross. “This strategy should then be used to better direct your efforts and capital — and your technology partner’s activities in meeting your competitive and operational needs.” Ross, who joined Activant from i2 Technologies, Dallas, Texas, in September 2003, has established a strong track record of more than 20 years in the development of innovative supply chain software solutions. Ross’s eForum address will take place Tuesday, August 3, at 8:15 a.m. Activant also will be well represented in an eForum discussion of the scope and benefits of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance data warehouse Initiative. This highly successful project, launched in 1999, has helped Alliance distributor members make faster, smarter and more cost effective parts- stocking decisions. The data warehouse was established using Activant’s ePartInsight software. For more information on the Aftermarket eForum or to register for the event, contact AAIA at (301) 654-6664, or firstname.lastname@example.org. An online registration form is available at www.aftermarket.org.