Marketplace lacks consumer reach

Using telematics to boost the auto industry’s dealings with consumers may prove to be the most profitable use of the technology. But customer relationship management applications are barely out of the starting gate.

While automakers long have discussed the appeal of using telematics to leverage customer relationship management, they haven’t introduced anything to the marketplace.

“It’s much like what they did with the adoption of the Internet,” Paul Washicko, director of tele-matics for Reynolds & Reynolds Co., says of manufacturers. “They’ve totally left dealers out of telematics so far except to say, ‘Sell it,’ without the support to sell it.”

So the Dayton, Ohio, company — one of the major providers of dealership IT systems — is working on its own solution. It has completed pilot testing a telematics-based customer relationship management system for dealers, who could sell it as a stand-alone aftermarket product. A wireless device plugs into an electronic connector that is on all makes and models built in 1996 and later.

Says Washicko: “That satisfies a dealer problem, because a lot of dealership groups have every franchise under the sun.”

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