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Technology and auto, how to stay on top


We celebrated my daughter’s eighth birthday this week, and like most parents I know, I took an enormous number of pictures that day on my phone. As I watched my daughter scroll through the images, I marveled at how she worked my phone like it was second nature, effortlessly zooming in and out to see the faces and smiles on each picture. She’s just like most kids in this Generation Alpha — walking around with an innate knowledge about how to traverse the continuously changing landscape of technology. When the technology changes — and we all know that it does in the blink of an eye — our kids don’t sweat it. They roll with it as if the updates and changes have been there all along.

It struck me that day that setting goals is like this. Just like the shifting nature of the technology our kids navigate, the goal post that we strategically set for ourselves is constantly in motion. When we recognize this, it’s time to evaluate how and when to move the goal posts. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we change our goals, although it might. Usually though, it means that we are malleable enough to shift a bit, and to adopt the growth mindset of an eight-year-old, who is excited by the challenge and the invitation to explore.

I work in the automotive industry, which is deeply rooted in tradition, and yet aspires to set the pace for the future of evolving technology. The goal post is always moving in auto. Not only will dealers now buy a used car online, without kicking the tires, some dealerships are outsourcing their inventory acquisition and retail readying services. Auctions are now aiding dealers in the direct acquisition, reconditioning and delivery of inventory to a dealership’s front line. All of this would have been hard to imagine 20 years ago, but today, inventory fulfillment options help dealers compete in a new tech-focused automotive world.

As a former dealer, it would have been hard to imagine outsourcing inventory fulfillment. Fast forward to today though, and companies are willing to leverage dealership data and predictive analytics to fuel confidence in data-driven inventory outsourcing. We’re getting more comfortable with predictive analytics each day in our personal lives too. Netflix isn’t just making a wild guess on which series you’d enjoy binge watching next. The same technology that has propelled the success of companies like Netflix and Amazon will drive the dealer of the future.

As we move forward, the most successful folks in auto will be those who understand why the industry works so well with all of its traditions — and then marry that with the technology that is coming at us at the speed of light. Think Tesla and their development of electric cars, solar panels and battery storage systems. Think about how you can’t read automotive news without reading about autonomous driving. The goal post is continually moving in auto and in order for sellers to remain competitive, it is critically important to understand your target customer and align the right inventory in front of the right buyer to keep customers coming back. It’s all about driving the customer experience. You can have the greatest marketing team on the planet, but if you don’t have anything good to market, you don’t have anything good.

The dealership of the future will require you to continually move the goal post and embrace evolving technology that not only affects our operational and promotional processes, but also allows predictive analytics to influence root decision-making — and it will require us to do this again and again. We’re already embracing the changing technology in our personal lives — ordering groceries to our front door, setting up next Saturday night’s date. If we stubbornly refused to roll with these changes, we’d still be schlepping to the bank to make a deposit or waiting for days for to see the pictures we took on vacation. Embracing the familiar is comfortable, but if we want to flow with the moving current of creativity and innovation in auto, we must challenge ourselves to adopt a growth mindset and embrace the same technology that we adopt into our personal lives. Be okay with moving the goal post — this will be the future.