Eight companies have formed a coalition to protect their access to data that they regularly pull from dealership computer systems.
The coalition was formed soon after the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in February and incorporated as Open Secure Access Inc.
Coalition members feared that Reynolds and Reynolds Co. and ADP Dealer Services, the two largest dealership computer system vendors, were going to restrict their access to dealership data.
The eight companies in the coalition are Autobytel.com, AutoTrader.com, Carfax.com, Cars.com, CarsDirect.com, Cobalt Group, DealerTrack Inc. and JMsolutions.
Companies that rely on data, such as vehicle inventory and service repair history, extract this information from a dealership's computer system, commonly known as a dealership management system.
With or without approval
The data are gathered, with dealership approval, through connections commonly called unsupported interfaces. The miners may or may not have the approval of ADP or Reynolds.
The coalition was created when Reynolds starting talking about tighter security for data at the NADA convention and because ADP also had concerns about security, says Allan Stejskal, president of Open Secure Access Inc.
"This issue has been floating around for a long time and just sort of came to a head at NADA time," says Stejskal, who formerly was AutoNation's senior vice president of operations and ADP's vice president for e-commerce.
"We heard a lot of concern from Reynolds and ADP around security and the need to close down the DMS, or at least tighten up access to the DMS in such a way that it might be difficult to get that data out," Stejskal says.
"That caused a number of the (participating) companies a lot of - not surprisingly - heartache."
Nevertheless, any talk about data security must include the efficient access to this dealer-owned data, he says. The coalition's mission is to ensure that dealer data are available to drive dealer sales and profits, yet safe and secure to comply with new government regulations, Stejskal says.