Friday, November 27, 2009

Automotive Retail BDC and Internet Departments - CRM Alone is Not Enough

CRM software is only one component of Information Technology.

Information Technology (IT) should comprise all hardware and software data solutions; marketing and communication systems; and most importantly the design, testing, application and refinement of the methods of implementation.

In other words, IT is not just software and hardware, it is the central philosophy and methodology underlying the coordinated application of technological assets in the search for efficient growth.

IT Objectives:

Maximize capitalization of internet prospects Maximize capitalization of global corporate data Minimize Internet and/or BDC departmental overhead Reduce third-party lead referral costs Increase captive lead frequency Strengthen ancillary revenue streams - parts, service and merchandise Exploit horizontal market opportunities

As such, a CRM platform cannot not be considered - in itself - an efficient vehicle for growth. Rather, the coordination of CRM with all other IT assets, in concert with a comprehensive marketing and communications strategy - across all franchises (and beyond) - remains the key to attaining and sustaining a superior level of efficient growth.

With this in mind, the evaluation of any piece of hardware or software should include it's ability to:

Work properly Accommodate strategic goals and processes "Talk" to other systems Adapt Be easy to use and understand Work quickly Work securely and privately

With regard to personnel, the ideal IT manager should not only possess a reasonable knowledge of hardware and software systems, but also a strong grasp of the retail marketplace, in addition to marketing and communications strategies. The IT manager will consolidate all technological assets and (working in conjunction with the principal(s)) develop new strategies facilitated via this nascent consolidation of datasources and communications systems.

Moreover, the IT manager is the most important piece of the puzzle; for it is through this key employee that all data and communications pass, all systems unite; and the successful, efficient utilization of this amalgamation via strategic marketing initiatives is dependent. No other single employee has the potential to control so much, and through doing so contribute so much.

In closing: Where most have welcomed and quickly capitalized upon technological advances in communication, the automotive retail industry - obstinate and myopic - has barely capitulated. Hence, the opportunities just over the horizon may be considerable for those who endeavor.

Fabien Vegas is founder and president of www.fabienvegas.com, a CRM solution provider and applications development company.

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