Part 3 – Turn your data into information

By September 8, 2014 February 6th, 2017 Think Tank

Having information and knowledge is vital when making important decisions. In today’s automotive industry, automakers and dealerships are surrounded by plenty of data, but face the difficulty of turning basic data into meaningful information that helps them understand their customers better.

In this week’s edition, we highlight how having access to ‘Big Data’ can make it possible for the automotive industry to begin to address customers as individuals rather than as marketing categories.


“Applications have, in the past, been assessed and hence improved independently, but this has done little to improve connections and data flow between systems and departments. To achieve real efficiency and productivity gains, applications should be looked at as a collective, cohesive unit.”

Starting from Now

data-information-faceAutomakers know that data can improve Aftersales customer satisfaction, retention, and revenue; however, the task of turning data into operational information is daunting. Automakers and dealerships focus on process steps to improve the customer experience, but demographic data is generally limited to name, address, and service history from a dealership management system (DMS). Few parties have a deep connection with data as a driver of Aftersales performance change. The past use of low quality data has resulted in discouraging outcomes.

Most data lies dormant in legacy databases owned by different departments, locked up in dealer management systems, or is used for single-purpose applications. Cross-application data usage is limited in Aftersales processes. Even when data is converted to more helpful information products, it functions on a vertical silo model and doesn’t ‘talk’ to other systems.

These restrictions on the availability, quality, and ease of use of data for Aftersales leads to situations where customer engagements are oversimplified and where each service advisor is the source of inconsistent ‘data’ that depends on their personal knowledge and experience in a situation. This often leads to variations from dealership to dealership, or dealership to the independent motor trade (IMT) for the same job estimate. The reliance on personnel estimating skill has a direct impact on dealership commercial performance, through higher operational costs, service price misquoting, lost business opportunities, and an engagement experience that can feel like it lacks transparency, certainty and trust for the customer.

Vision of the Future

In 2020, automakers and dealerships will work with innovative and specialist solution providers to ensure data is being collected, extracted and converted to ready-to-use information for infinite customer engagement needs. Information will link individual processes together within the automaker or dealership. The data will be collated from disparate sources and standardised on common platforms. It will be continuously monitored, updated, and delivered in real time using vehicle telematics, big data pools, analytics, and applications that are truly interoperable. Dealership Parts and Service departments will achieve monumental leaps in productivity and increased customer satisfaction over 2013 levels.

Information will be plentiful, relevant, and proactively ‘guided’ to its instantly ‘profiled’ viewer, whether Aftersales personnel or Aftersales customer. Parts serviceability data will be current up to the second via direct interconnection with automaker engineering and serviceable parts systems. Smart User Manuals will be personalised, contextualised, and particular to the vehicle’s original and upgraded build configuration.

Integration of parts selection EPCs will be fully interfaced with other dealership’s information subsystems, such as precision service quoting and workshop management. Systems will use data to ‘negotiate’ pricing in real-time with Aftersales customers based on customer type and economic demographic. Dealership systems will tirelessly provide infinite, highly accurate and relevant quotations, and close sales for service bookings and parts, with little personnel intervention. Dealership Aftersales personnel will be freed up to nurture real customers and leave paperwork to the machines.

Bridge to the Future

The first step in creating the envisioned future will be to understand what kind of information the modern era customer is seeking, how they want to purchase their products and services, and what kind of relationship they want to have with their provider – ‘personality profiling’.

data-information-profileThe bridge from the present to the future will come about as automakers, dealerships, and ITPs recognise that they are in partnership together and not just in a customer/supplier relationship. System providers will have accepted that the value provided by each system is not just the value it provides alone, but the value it adds to a process that involves multiple systems dealing with distinct, yet related items of information.

The secretive or exclusive nature of data will have given way to open pools of Big Data with controlled access that allows infinite development and analysis possibilities for vehicle makers and vehicle users. As a result, customer vehicle engagement time and dealership significance and effectiveness will increase. When vehicle information systems are opened to trusted ITPs, value-added content, processes and systems will grow exponentially, along with the value of the entire automotive field.

Solutions providers will create online applications, systems and apps that easily share information and cooperate with one another. They will be both information sharer and data collector. Dealerships become more effective with improved sales results after accepting that machine-to-machine customer engagement will replace a significant portion of person-to-person customer engagement.