In light of NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) taking place this week, the following is my contribution to the market.
Car dealers and manufacturers have been under some major pressure as of late. Between Toyota’s foot in mouth ordeal with the accelerator issues and GM filing for bankruptcy there is no shortage of bad automotive PR out there and sales departments need all the sales and marketing support they can get their hands on.
I have been spending some time recently exploring the automotive CRM space and the potential gap in the market that has been left by some very large antiquated software players out there.
Why is this market compelling?
As annual car sales have declined by the millions from a few years ago (annual car sales in 2008 are worst since 1992) http://www.autoobserver.com/2009/01/2008-us-auto-sales-are-worst-since-1992.html car dealers are going to have to find a better way to increase showroom traffic, or in this day and age just add more to the bottom line. CRM software providers in this space are showing some interesting promise outside of the current standard which is merely an online Rolodex of names, numbers and basic lead generation reporting. Instead, recent up and comers are focusing their efforts on helping dealerships manage not online their inventory but their social media reputation and buzz through social networks and micro blogging sites aka facebook and twitter; effectively allowing their sales people to jump into conversations in real time and start their own influence marketing. Start ups are monitoring their customers’ behavior online and tracking exactly what cars they are looking at and when, thus giving the dealer an opportunity to broadcast specific content at highly targeted leads. Its tools like these that are leaving older CRM systems in the dust and presenting venture capital firms like OpenView an opportunity to get in on the action and help build a successful company to take the place of the aforementioned older systems.
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