Jim Grubbs is director of product marketing for e-commerce and e-catalog at WHI Solutions, an eBay Company. He previously worked at MacDonald Computer, where he oversaw development of the Nexpart online parts ordering website, and also worked at Autovia and Federal-Mogul.
You gave a well-received presentation at the NCMA conference about how technology staff can make the business case for data standards adoption to their executives. Why is that important?
As a customer-focused tech company, we’ve learned that it’s critical that IT make requests that are based on making it easier and more profitable for customers to buy from you, i.e., it's good for the company, rather than it’s good for IT. Related to data standards issues, executives will ask for the return on investment to have their data in ACES, spend the money to shoot images for every part. If you don't translate those requests into sales impact, you're not going to get anywhere. For every investment you make, you have to articulate that message to the guy who is going to approve your budget. If not, then he is just going to view it as another cost. You have to be able to take those requests to upper management in a way that they see the benefit to the company in sales and profitability, not just for the benefit of your own department.
Why does the technology staff or the catalog department have trouble communicating that message?
IT teams tend to be more technically oriented, looking at their own data within the four walls. "Where is this data coming from?" "Where are these images coming from?" "How are we processing it?" Sales or marketing executives ask, "How am I perceived in the marketplace? Why would a customer choose my product over a competitor?" It’s important that catalog mangers look at both.