Industry must integrate data across platforms

Publish Date: 
Mar 19, 2013
By Rod Stuckey

Imagine if you were taking a trade-in or buying at the auction and could view a snapshot of how many comparable vehicles were available in your market area and what they were selling for. Wouldn’t that be a little more valuable information to make accurate decisions with than just looking in the NADAGuide? It’s now possible — with enough data.

Obviously, we’re not in a perfect world. Most DMSs don’t talk to CRM systems. Most CRMs don’t talk to websites, and most websites don’t talk to other third-party sites, making data hygiene and integration clumsy and, in some cases, simply not possible.

The goal of data integration to most dealers seems overwhelming, and rightly so. Sure, some of the big companies are trying to create one-stop shops, but ultimately our industry has to move toward a rising-tide-raises-all-ships mentality and develop some sort of cross-integration across multiple platforms.

Years ago in the automotive industry, 13 leading automotive-related Internet companies (some of which were competitors) developed the ADF standard. This is an open XML-based standard specifically for communicating vehicle and customer information from quote requests to dealers.

This auto dealer format (ADF) was the catalyst for an industry that now is able to integrate and share data through APIs (application program interfaces) across different technology platforms (including competitors). This is a huge benefit for the OEMs because the leads generated from their consumer sites are compatible with all of the vendors’ CRM and Internet lead management (ILM) tools. It is equally beneficial for dealers, as it streamlines operations and provides the key data required to make smart marketing decisions.

Unfortunately, many OEMs in our industry are creating their own lead management systems, and although they have good intentions, they’re simply spending a lot of money on custom software and adding to the dealers’ challenges of multiple systems housing data that can’t be integrated. Having nine logins to nine different systems housing leads is a mess, and is the reality of the challenges today’s dealers face.

As Google has proved, with enough math, enough data and the right technology, you really can take marketing to the next level. I encourage you to share the need and importance of data integration with your OEMs and vendors. Ultimately it’s the demand of the dealer body that will steer this ship. 

This column originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of Dealernews.