CHICAGO – The Marine Association for Technology Exchange Standards has developed a sales lead specification that brings new efficiency to the process by which manufacturers and dealers access consumer sales leads generated via DiscoverBoating.com, MATES reported in a press release yesterday.
The MATES standard is the basis for the Discover Boating Remote Lead Export System, developed by Channel Blade Technologies, which allows companies to poll the service as often as every four hours to retrieve lead information in a generic, structured and easy-to-use data format — XML (Extensible Markup Language).
The standard is the first of its kind for marine industry use; co-developed by MATES members with STAR (Standards for Technology in Automotive Retail), a multi-industry IT standards body. Sales leads in this non-proprietary, XML format are available for use by all marine manufacturers and dealers registered to use the Discover Boating Lead System on GrowBoating.org.
While a manufacturer or dealer could designate a person to log into the system periodically to retrieve leads in other file formats, this standard and its integration with the lead export system automates the lead retrieval process, ensuring consistent and up-to-date acquisition of valuable consumer boating prospects.
Several companies, including Minneapolis-based Genmar Holdings Inc., are already putting the new standard to use.
“By following the MATES standard, Genmar will be able to better support its dealers and will prevent duplication when interfacing with other businesses in the marine industry,” says Scott Iverson of Jacobs Interactive, the technology arm of Genmar Holdings.
Other leading marine entities like boats.com and Marine Web Services are also using the lead format, a testament to the inter-operability of the standard, MATES said.
“Having an established standard eliminates the need to negotiate whose format should be used when two or more companies want to exchange data,” said John Warnik, MATES executive director. “We’re seeing this format quickly becoming the de facto way to communicate lead information from company to company, both inside and outside of MATES.”
The Sales Lead specification is just the first of many standards MATES currently has in development. The organization is near completion of additional standards for parts ordering and inventory remarketing. Other standards slated for future development include product registration, warranty claim, dealer locator and credit application processing/credit decision making.
MATES’ goal is to develop a set of data communication standards by which the marine industry at large can operate, effectively reducing IT burdens, eliminating system incompatibility and making it easier for companies to transact business with one another.
“MATES isn’t just developing standards that will benefit one particular company; the standards are guidelines that every company — from large, international companies to one-man software developers — can use to improve efficiencies throughout the supply chain,” said MATES Board Chairman, George Rogic, of Volvo Penta. “MATES is a solution for our industry, and it’s critical that the industry helps support this initiative."
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