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Big data offers big bottom-line potential for Dealerships

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Breaking Down Big Data for Dealerships: Five Key Questions to Ask

Big data has become a big topic in today’s business landscape. For those of us less familiar with the term, big data refers to the massive volumes of primarily digital information organizations generate. This includes data about their customers, employees, vendors, partners, competitors, equipment, transactions, interactions, assets, and more.

Big data also refers to the potential this information has to drive better business decisions. The idea being, if companies can only tap into and harness their big data, they’ll have the insight and analytics they need to seize more opportunities, identify areas of waste, strength customer relationships, compete more effectively, operate with more agility, improve efficiencies, work more productively, and ultimately increase profits.

More and more organizations across all industries are realizing the importance of capturing as much real-time data as possible about their assets — especially when those assets are mobile. They’re also realizing that simply capturing this wealth of raw data is not enough. Companies must also be able to translate their big data into actionable, understandable and relevant business intelligence. The challenge comes in not only collecting the data you need, but in securing it, storing it, making sure it’s available, and making sense of it.

Automotive dealerships are among those companies investing significant resources and capital into big data about their mobile assets — both capturing it and using it. And for good reason. As the demand for vehicle inventory goes up, and as more customers with credit challenges come into dealerships looking to buy vehicles, dealers are seeking ways to increase sales while lowering risk. Big data offers a solution to this challenge.

As such, dealerships have increasingly invested in GPS-based telematics systems that allow them to track their vehicles’ locations, movement and status — lowering the risks and costs associated with defaults, delinquencies and repossessions. But it’s no longer good enough to simply track vehicle assets; these systems must also be able to collect a rich level of data then serve it up as easy-to-understand and -access business intelligence.

Before you rush to invest in solutions that promise to deliver big data, there are a number of key considerations you should keep in mind. Be sure to ask any solutions provider you’re evaluating where they stand on these issues, and how they plan to address them.

1. Is my data secure, and will you keep me in compliance?

Federal and state regulations hold dealers responsible for ensuring the security and privacy of their customers’ data. Make sure your solutions provider will support you in these efforts, by asking the following questions.

  • Do you have a dedicated and sophisticated server set-up, or are you just running a single server in a closet somewhere? Ask for details on their server set-up.
  • What security controls do you have in place to protect my customers’ data?
  • Do you have experienced security experts on staff to monitor and manage my data?
  • Do you regularly update your security procedures to counter the latest security threats and breaches?

2. Will I have instant access to my data when I need it?

Your data’s no good to you unless you can access it whenever you need to. Look for solutions providers who can guarantee service availability and continuity to ensure you’re continually connected to your vehicles and your valuable information. Ask about the provider’s infrastructure and how they plan to let you know about service performance. Here are some specific questions to ask.

  • Do you have a network of multiple data centers spread out across a wide geographic range?
  • If service at one data center is disrupted, how will you ensure availability of my data?
  • How will you let me know if there are any performance issues and when I can expect them to be resolved?
  • Do you make your performance levels and service availability rates public?

 3. Will you be able to keep up with my data demands?

Your GPS vehicle tracking solutions should be able to scale with you as your business and data demands grow. When you need to access more vehicle data, will the provider be able to accommodate this increase in demand without impacting service or data delivery? If the provider’s other customers suddenly have a spike in data demands, will that slow down your service? Ask the provider the following questions.

  • Do your servers and data centers have the ability to add capacity remotely and on the fly, as needed?
  • How many active users is your system supporting? Solutions that can handle more than one million GPS units are more likely to meet your growing demands.
  • Do you have a performance guarantee that includes compensation should your servers go down and I can’t access the service I’ve paid for?

4. Will you be able to respond to changes in the market and technology?

Data-mining technology is constantly evolving, along with the automotive finance industry. Will your provider be able to stay ahead of these changes and take advantage of new advancements? These questions will help you determine whether the provider takes a proactive approach to anticipate and embrace emerging technologies.

  • How much do you invest in research and development?
  • How many software engineers do you have on your team?
  • Is your solution built using open, scalable code that allows you to fix bugs, add features and functionality, resolve security flaws, and make enhancements quickly?
  • Does your solution integrate seamlessly with other commonly used systems and applications?

5. What will you do with all my data?

Your solution should not only be able to capture big data. It should be able to store, secure and manage your growing data — today, tomorrow and well into the future. This data should be leveraged to make predictions about the future performance of your vehicle assets and business, so that you can put the proper strategies in place. Here are some good questions to ask:

  • How will you collect, store and secure my data?
  • Will I have instant access to all my historical data?
  • How do you help me translate my data into business intelligence I can actually understand and use?
  • Do you have a customer service team who can respond to my questions and requests 24/7?
  • Do you have extensive experience in the automotive finance industry?
  • Will you assign a dedicated account manager to help me leverage my data to make better strategic decisions?

Delivering the Promise of Big Data

Big data does offer big bottom-line potential. To realize that potential, you’ll need a solutions provider who understands the value of big data, and how to put that data to work for you. Asking these key questions will go a long way to helping you choose a partner who can deliver the data you need to make faster, smarter, more profitable business decisions.
Neil Fisher,
Vice President of Sales, West Region
Spireon, Inc.

Vice President of Field Sales, ASG
Spireon, Inc.


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