As we enter the new year, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the emerging technology trends of 2017. The powersports industry is evolving and dealerships are realizing the importance of embracing technology and dealership management solutions that allow their businesses to function more efficiently. This may push some of you outside of your comfort zone, so it’s important to understand how new technology can benefit your dealership. I consulted our in-house guru, Joe Fuller, Chief Information Officer for Dominion Enterprises, and here’s what I learned.
Companies continue to migrate their computing to the public cloud. The two market leaders in cloud-based technology are Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. IBM, Google and others are also committed to providing cloud hosting services.
The primary reason for using a cloud-based infrastructure is flexibility. Because the computing resources can be almost instantly turned on, there are no technical hurdles to building new applications. You can develop, test and deploy easily. You can grow exponentially without capital investment. So the cloud is great for experimenting, building new products, testing and handling seasonal loads. This is one of the reasons cloud-based dealership management systems (DMS) have a big advantage, and provide great value to dealers.
Or as Joe refers to it, Data Insights. Companies are learning how to capture their “digital exhaust” and mine it for patterns that help them save money and sell more. When businesses are able to capture all the touchpoints they have with their customers and prospects, and combine that with demographic data, social media interactions, location and other cues, amazing insights can be gleaned. For example, if a consumer bought a child’s motorcycle helmet from a dealership in June of 2005, chances are pretty good that same child is going to be of riding age Spring/Summer of 2017. If the dealership was able to capture and successfully analyze all the touchpoints, they could provide a compelling offer for that person’s first motorcycle or ATV at the right time. Pretty cool!
And better yet, the tools to analyze data businesses capture are now cost effective. Many of those tools are available from the open source community. These tools combined with inexpensive cloud-based technology mean that even small businesses can analyze their transactional data and compete with the big guys to increase sales opportunities and retain good customers.
Gadgets and Personal Tech
Though people are cutting the cord from TV cable providers, internet consumption is growing exponentially from content streaming services. Two-year cell phone plans are ending and more pay-as-you-go plans are taking hold. It is possible to get good cell phone data plans for $30 to $45 per month. This means even more of your prospects and customers will be accessing your website from mobile devices, so responsive technology is becoming a necessity in order to provide an optimal user experience.
Voice-controlled home automation (Google’s Home and Amazon’s Echo) took this holiday shopping season by storm. Virtual Reality, highly touted in 2016, will get a lot of play in 2017. Virtual Reality takes you out of your reality and puts you in a different reality. The problem is, you’re not aware of your actual surroundings. This opens up an opportunity for mixed reality like Microsoft’s Hololens technology. With mixed reality, you’re able to see virtual objects in your real world. Virtual reality will be big in 2017 but mixed reality may be bigger afterwards. Virtual reality could offer cutting-edge opportunities for dealerships to extend their marketing beyond photos and videos. Imagine giving consumers the ability to experience what it’s like to off-road through the desert or hit a snowy mountain pass. How’s that for a sales tool?
There were over a million drones sold during the holidays in 2016. Drones are successfully being deployed for dozens of commercial purposes and the FAA recently relaxed the pilot requirements for people to use drones for those purposes. So drones will become an even more integral part of our lives. Self-driving cars are happening and faster than most technologists predicted even two years ago. The financial advising community is being disrupted by online financial services such as betterment.com. Enter your age, retirement status and income and the online system makes recommendations for how you should be investing. Imagine using your phone to craft a financial investment plan in minutes without paying fees to advisors.
The medical industry is also about to be disrupted dramatically. With home sensors, personal DNA, video calls and cloud computing capacity such as that provided by IBM’s Watson system, there will come a day soon that we no longer visit a doctor in person to have our health problems diagnosed. Imagine the symptoms being fed into a cloud analyzer. In seconds, that analyzer will compare your symptoms, DNA, biometrics and test results to the collected knowledge base of millions of other cases and outcomes. Your prescription is already on its way via drone.
Finally, smart companies will be Uber-izing themselves. Uber disrupted the personal transportation industry by bringing riders and providers together efficiently and for the most part, safely. They eliminated the stress of wondering if the taxi would come, standing on the corner with your hand out, not having cash, wondering how much to tip, wondering what it would cost, wondering if you’d be safe, etc. Businesses need to examine the human pain points in their current customer interactions and automate them away as much as possible. Otherwise, someone will come along and Uberize them out of existence.
Successful dealerships are going to be those that take advantage of technology and utilize it to make their dealership run more efficiently, while creating a better experience for prospects and customers. Look for cloud-based, responsive solutions that give you the flexibility to grow and adapt as new technology emerges. Find unique ways to market your dealership and capitalize on cutting-edge technology. 2017 is going to be an exciting year!
Kim Rocco is the director of Marketing for DX1, the complete dealership management platform for the powersports industry. DX1 gives dealers access to everything they need to manage and market their dealerships, including DMS, website & online marketing tools. Dealers save time and eliminate frustration with the efficiency of one login, one dashboard and a single database where customer and inventory data is stored.