Revisiting Still Disrupting, After All These Years

Colleen Ehrhardt

March 10, 2021

Hello friends!

I’ve been here—leading DDS’ global business development efforts—for almost two and a half years now. As I’ve done a couple times before, I was going back through our company’s previous blog posts recently, and I re-read the company’s very first post, “Still Disrupting, After All These Years,” on the power of disruptive innovation, written just after an electrical industry event where this topic was discussed. Even though I’ve probably read it four times before, I was once again struck by the very powerful message in the post, which still rings true. So I felt it was worth revisiting and encouraging our associates and friends, old and new, to have another look.

In this inaugural post, our (then vice, now) president Matt Christensen wrote about how DDS was taking an entirely different approach to the challenging issues facing manufacturers and distributors around the exchange and usability of product content, specifically for e-commerce and other digital applications.

These days, in a given week I’ll talk with dozens of manufacturers and distributors, from all over the world and in all kinds of industry verticals, who are still struggling with the constraints of older technologies, processes, and ways of thinking. I’m continually surprised (and encouraged!) at how folks respond when they learn how much simpler and more sophisticated these processes can be… IF you’re working with the right partners!

From the start, DDS set out to do things differently—and better—than the legacy data providers serving the distribution industry. Here we are, three years (and one economy-disrupting pandemic!) later, and not only is DDS still uniquely able to make the entire product content syndication process easy for both manufacturers and their distribution partners, but we are continuing to develop new value-add services and tools that further set us apart from other content and service providers.

Having been in the e-commerce space for 20 years now—and, for the last two-plus years, having talked to some of the largest, most digitally advanced companies in the manufacturing and distribution industries around the world—I can say with confidence that no one is even close to the intelligent, forward-thinking technologies and philosophies that DDS is offering. (Some keep saying they are, or “can,” but their customers consistently confirm otherwise.)

The bottom line is, if you are serious about improving both your end-user customers’ online experience—by way of the most complete, current and e-commerce-ready product content available in the marketplace—as well as your company’s internal experience in managing that content, you NEED to be talking to DDS. Full stop.

With that, here’s the full post for your consideration below. It’s a quick read, but it says so much… Thanks for your ear, and as always, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, or for more information, on DDS’ truly “next-generation” product content solutions.


Colleen Ehrhardt
Vice President – Global Sales

Still Disrupting, After All These Years

DDS - Still Disrupting, After All These Years

Originally posted May 24, 2018 By Matt Christensen

I just returned from the NAED National Meeting, which I attended with Dale Holt, the [CEO] of our company, DDS (Distributor Data Solutions). With one of the major themes of this year’s conference being “Disruption” in our industry, I figured it particularly fitting that I write my introductory executive blog in keeping with this theme.

While DDS is a relatively young company—now in our fourth year as a premier product content provider helping manufacturers and distributors conquer the challenges of e-commerce—Dale and I go back a ways. I was the head of IT at Codale Electric Supply, the independent electrical distributor based out of Salt Lake City that Dale started in 1975 and grew to a massively successful enterprise that he sold to Sonepar—the largest electrical distributor in the world—in 2012.

Anyone who knows Dale can probably attest to the fact that he is (and always will be) a disruptor. He’s never been one to accept a “that’s how it’s always been done” argument, and he’s always been an early adopter of technologies and processes with potential to improve how things are done, even when doing so seems unorthodox or challenges the status quo.

It was in this spirit that Dale founded DDS, only a few years after he and I took on the less-than-pleasant experience of building an e-commerce website at Codale. Sadly, the same frustrations and limitations we met back in 2008, specifically with obtaining and having to manually manipulate product content from hundreds of different manufacturers, are still plaguing so many distributors chipping away at their e-commerce initiatives, and it’s been TEN YEARS. [Now 13!]

The challenges are equally frustrating for manufacturers, whose product content (which they spend major bucks to develop) ends up being incomplete, inconsistent and outdated across distributor websites due to countless technological hurdles.

As Dale puts it, “With all the technology we have today, why aren’t we using better technology in our industry?!”

Which brings us to another primary topic at this year’s National Meeting: “Digitization” of content. It’s no secret that our industry lags behind the curve when it comes to “going electronic.” Globally we are seeing an all-out race towards harnessing “big data” (data now being considered perhaps the most valuable of commodities) for all sorts of business applications, and there are some obvious leaders from the tech sector whose mastery of big data has allowed them to step into other markets overnight, which does not bode well for distributors still trying to establish an online presence.

A major objective from DDS’ start, we brought in some seriously smart people (from some of the world’s largest technology and data companies—like Apple, IBM and Goldman Sachs, to name a few) and took a completely different approach (intelligent and programmatic) to improving the way manufacturers deliver data to distributors. We’re using the same advanced technologies as the tech giants—rather than manual overseas labor—to make this a better process for everyone involved: for manufacturers, for distributors, and most importantly, for end-user customers. We are DDS, and we are disrupting. We hope you will join us.

Best regards,

Matt Christensen