One buzzword prominent in the IT sector is consumerization, which loosely refers to products and services being designed with end users in mind.
These days, the term increasingly applies to auto retail, says Mahesh Shah, CDK's new chief product and technology officer. Car buyers are looking for the easiest and most efficient customer experience in sales and service, and that creates new expectations — and opportunities — for dealerships.
"We're going to see a lot more pressure coming from consumers to simplify their engagement back with the dealers," Shah tells us.
Shah, who joined CDK on April 22, is broadly tasked with applying his IT experience to the dealership services giant's products.
Those efforts will roll not from CDK's Hoffman Estates, Ill., headquarters but from Silicon Valley, where CDK opened an office April 1. The new San Jose, Calif., space will employ 50 in its first year, but head count could rise to 400 over the next three years.
Shah, 43, is on the lookout for tech talent as the office expands; think developers, data-oriented engineers and people well-versed in machine learning. In addition to being at ground zero for this kind of vocation pool, the San Jose operation will build relationships with schools, using an internship program to convert students to full-time hires.
Shah was in Silicon Valley in his most recent role with IT services firm DXC Technology, where he oversaw businesses that accounted for about a quarter of the company's revenue.
Though Shah joins CDK from outside auto retailing, he is no stranger to dealerships. Shah has extended family members who have dealerships, and he said he spent seven summers from his teen years into his early 20s working at stores in Quebec, including in parts and service departments. "I probably did every job you could find at those dealerships," he recalls.
Twenty years later, he has a new role in retailing. Spending time with dealers, Shah says, will be "a huge part of what I do."