Machine Data and the Dealer Connection


Today I’d like to tell you a story about change. The seeds that started this change were sown in the latter years of the last century, but as any farmer will tell you, seeds don’t sprout overnight. In fact, these seeds are still not fully blossomed. But we’re getting there.

My story starts, however, in this century, in the first few years of it, when I was introduced to Mike Vorster’s Hexagon. Mike suggested that an equipment manager’s reason for being consisted of 6 functions illustrated by the triangles in his hexagon: Acquisition & disposal, Compliance & risk management, Production interface and logistics, Field maintenance, Shop operations, and Fleet asset management.

Soon after this, the seeds of the evolution of asset management began to push up thru the ground. At this point, I should tell you that the seeds in this story are machine data. Telematics, the medium through which data is transferred, leapt into the equipment manager’s consciousness in the early to mid-2000s. As managers recognized the value of data, the triangles in the hexagon began to shift. In a series we called “The Management Challenge,” we suggested that the equipment manager function was being transformed. The triangles in the hexagon were changing in emphasis as fleet organizations began looking to the equipment manager to use the new stream of data in their jobs.

One solution to this pressure, we said, was increasing partnerships with dealers and distributors. Since then, we have consistently said that dealers would become an integral part of a fleet’s asset management plans. The reason: They have the relationships with the manufacturers that have been tracking machine data for years, and they can invest in the systems needed to support the machines they sell. The dealer sits right in the middle, able to tap into the strength of the manufacturer’s data while providing a trusted resource to those using the machines.

These relationships are sprouting as machine data becomes more integral to effective fleet management. Kudos to those dealers who have seen the value that their analytical services bring to the equipment manager. Kudos to those who are working closely with their manufacturer partners to streamline the flow of not only the data but also the insights that can lead to improved fleet utilization and productivity.

The story of change is still unfolding, however. The next chapter, I believe, will see dealers changing. As machines move from mechanical assets to technological assets, analytics will enable dealers to become serious partners in machine management. In fact, their value in the channel might shift from acquisition to asset management. We’re already seeing some dealers moving this direction.

We showcase this shift in asset management with our Dealer Excellence Award. We want the industry to see how the story is developing. Two of the six pillars we look for center on this change in dealer relationships: Technology infrastructure, how digital technology is used to support customers, and Machine-data management, how data is analyzed, communicated, and used to the benefit of the equipment manager.

Nominations are open. Click here to nominate a dealer that's doing it right with technology and customer service.