Dominion/Ziios: Web-based DMS platform to remain open

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After being acquired last month by industry powerhouse Dominion Enterprises, dealership software developer Ziios is leveraging its owner’s size while at the same time welcoming any and all integrations. In other words, in a powersports software market known for exclusive deals and (with few exceptions) labor-intensive integrations, Ziios offers what many industry techies have pined for: an open platform.

Among the first integrators will be Dominion’s other properties: Cycle Trader, PowerSports Network and Traffic Log Pro. But proprietors of competing websites and software are just as welcomed, the company says. Even people who have written their own applications have access to Ziios’ data.

Curtis Conner, a former Microsoft executive and dealer, is CEO of Ziios and the creator of its Web-based dealer management system, MomentumDMS. “Pretty much the whole industry has been limited in regards to exposing data,” he says. “So if someone writes a really cool scheduling application, for example, that information has to be reinput or patched into the DMS. Our goal is to expose all these business functions to the Web — to help third parties integrate functionalities and really allow a rich ecosystem.”

As Dealernews reported in the spring, MomentumDMS uses a remote server updated by Ziios, which also digitalizes on a daily basis all the information OEMs send to their dealers. Some manufacturers send data directly to Ziios. Others aren’t as obliging, forcing the company to ask dealers instead. Conner’s hoping that his new boss will change this. “One of the nice things about joining Dominion is their relationships with the OEMs and our ability to piggyback on those relationships to build a richer set of data,” he says. “Now when I call them, they’re not going to say, ‘And who are you?’”

Conner says that before the change in ownership, some dealers had been hesitant to buy software from a company that’s only been around since 2008. Dominion Enterprises, on the other hand, was founded under a different name in 1991. It employs 4,900 people nationwide and operates 40 websites and 280 magazines. The Norfolk, Va., company bought PSN in 2007 and says that about 2,500 dealers now use the website builder. Last September, Dominion bought Traffic Log Pro, a customer relationship management system used by more than 700 dealers.

Rick Murchake, vice president of Dominion Enterprises, says he’s glad that his company can provide Conner with security and name recognition. “Instead of trying to raise capital or convince dealers that his small company is going to be around for the long haul,” he says, “Curtis now will be able to focus his time and effort. All that hassle has been removed because Dominion is very committed to offering these types of services.”

Why did Dominion buy Ziios, the headquarters of which will remain in California? “First of all, we really like the company,” Murchake says. “We really like the culture. We really like the software. And I guess it’s pretty evident — nothing ground-shaking here — that there’s an opportunity in the marketplace for a new technology to help dealers. We like the fact that we’ll be able to better service our customers, as well as customers we don’t currently have, with new products and services.”

The rollout of Ziios to dealers will be gradual and selective, Marchake says. “We’re not going to start signing up tons of customers without being able to adequately serve them and make sure that the software is tweaked to where it needs to be,” he says.

Murchake does say that dealers can expect special packages in the near future involving MomentumDMS, PSN, Cycle Trader and Traffic Log Pro.

But again, MomentumDMS will remain an open platform. “We’re really pushing this open architecture,” Conner says. “We’re building a platform like what Microsoft and Google did.”

Conner envisions many ways in which both dealers and vendors will benefit: “Say you’re a dealer and you write this really cool software that automatically does order generation. We’re going to give you the tools to automatically integrate that. Or say you’re a third-party financer and you want to hook in for automatic forms generation. We’re giving tools to do that.

“Ziios will interface with anybody and everybody,” Conner says. “There are some really smart people out there that can do some really cool things if we let them have access to [MomentumDMS] seamlessly, providing some things that we can’t even think about today.”

Related articles:
Dominion Enterprises buys Web-based DMS provider Ziios
Ziios: Can a former Microsoft exec revolutionize the DMS market?