As I write this column, I’m returning from the most recent Collision Industry Conference (CIC) in Oklahoma City. If you haven’t yet taken the opportunity to attend a CIC meeting, I encourage you to make the time to get to one. All of the attendees are members of the collision repair industry, including repairers like you, who are trying to make the industry better for all. The meetings move around the country, so I urge you to visit www.ciclink.com, review the schedule and take one in when one comes to your region.
One of the subjects at this latest CIC was data. It has been a few years since I was involved in the IT community, and I must admit I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about data. I’m afraid that’s probably the case with many of us. You see, that’s the thing about data: it’s always there behind the scenes and just keeps piling up. It does nothing by itself unless someone starts to look at it and make it available to someone else.
Therein lies the issue. Today, much of the industry data is flying around and being looked at by many individuals and/or groups. Just looking at data by itself doesn’t really cause any concerns. Data only becomes dangerous when someone either aggregates it or manipulates it to interpret it their own way and build business cases or, worse yet, business policies from it.
Data can become corrupt or deceiving when it’s improperly combined or divided. Using this corrupt data to drive business initiatives that contribute to bottom-line profit can be damaging to the industry. This can happen at any level in the industry, and everyone needs to keep a watchful eye on this issue.
Data is an important part of running each of our businesses and can be an excellent tool to watch for trends and use as a comparison to improve our efficiencies. It’s essential that we all share our data so the industry can grow and recognize trends. But each of us needs to be careful about where our data is going. Only release your data to trusted partners, and always know the terms by which you’re agreeing to release that data. This is easier said than done, but it’s our responsibility to ask and be vigilant. If we all keep an eye on it, our data will be more valuable and safe for all of us.
I hope to see you at a future CIC near you.