Auto Service World
Feature   March 10, 2016   by Andrew Ross

Telematics And You

As amazing as it might seem, telematics runs the risk of being treated like yesterday’s news before it has even had a fraction of the impact it is sure to have on the aftermarket.
On one level this is understandable. After all, we’ve been talking about the role of telematics and the aftermarket service provider for years now – initially, as a threat on the horizon, then as a perceived threat on the roads, and more recently as a playing field in which the aftermarket can participate.
All these facets of the evolution of telematics are forces to be reckoned with, and yet somehow it seems to be treated more often than not with something short of urgency by the service
providers – who worry about its impact, but often do little to use aftermarket tools at their disposal – and by the supply chain: folks like you.
I am sure that those service providers who have taken the time to educate themselves, and maybe even put a plan in place to address the coming challenge, must still accept the fact that they see little impact on their businesses today. But they take it on faith that it will have an impact one day, and are looking for ways to address it.
In the supply chain, the telematics threat is certainly taken seriously, but only inasmuch as it puts at risk the sale of parts to customers who might be drawn away from the independent aftermarket and into the original equipment service channel.
However, in the end, despite its expected impact on the aftermarket as a whole, it is viewed as a service provider problem.
It’s time to think about telematics from a different perspective: as more than just a way of drawing customers into their allied dealer service networks.
Viewed as a supply chain problem, not just a service provider issue, it would surely gain more traction with manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers.
What do you think telematics will mean for automakers’ ability to forecast service parts demand if they could get data on part and system failures, even when their own service networks don’t get that work? Sophisticated number crunching could dramatically increase their supply chain efficiency over time, making them more cost-competitive with the aftermarket. Similar demand modelling could also pay dividends in their service bays, by tracking lost service opportunities and comparing that against appointment wait times.
Of course, it’s a natural extension of this that in-time information from part failures outside the sweet spot for the OES channel – vehicles 7 to 11 years old – could spur greater competitiveness in post-warranty vehicle service, the aftermarket’s bread and butter.
And naturally, feedback could help the automakers improve designs, possibly yielding even lower failure rates than we are already seeing.
Yes, these are speculative musings, but they are offered here with seriousness, for as sure as you or can sit at our respective desks and wonder aloud, there are engineers working with the original equipment sector who are doing the same, and turning those musings into reality.
While the impact on the independent aftermarket service bay can be viewed as the most acute threat, it is not the only one.
So the next time you think about telematics, don’t think about it as a problem for your customers first, and yourself second. Recognize it for what it is: a game changer for everyone in the independent aftermarket. nJN