Ask yourself this: with the current tech stack in place at your dealership, do you have full control of your data? Why does it matter? 

More and more, the ability to harness and control your first-party data is the critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to setting your dealership up for success in the coming rough economic waters. The ability to access and use your data in new ways is quickly becoming a must-have automotive superpower. 

This is where the importance of APIs come into play. 

APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces, are key to unlocking the power of your data. They allow for seamless data exchange and integration with other systems. Take, for example, Google Maps. Google’s map API is something businesses can pay to use in order to integrate Google Maps on their website, making it easier for them to show customers where they are located. This exchange of data happens seamlessly with the power of the API.  

Imagine a world where your siloed dealership data sources offered a public API so the different platforms could communicate with one another. This would instantly give you more control over your data, allowing you to gather data about customer preferences and behavior, which can be used to create the kind of shopping experiences that drive customer loyalty and extend customer lifecycles. 

Unfortunately, public APIs, priced free or extremely reasonably, and architected to provide all the necessary data–are all too rare in the automotive industry. Dealership DMSs, CRMs, and websites all gather data that stays in its own bucket, preventing the data from being useful in making smart, data backed business decisions. Where APIs exist they are flawed, clunky to use, or unreasonably expensive – essentially, another way to keep the data siloed.

Why is that?

In a recent chat with Ben Hadley from Auto Genius, we discussed why automotive has yet to adapt to the API model. As Ben explained it, in the 1980’s the DMS became must-have hardware and software for dealers. This was so early that web-based API’s as a concept didn’t even exist when DMS systems were first adopted. 

Early adoption came with unintended downsides. Because automotive was the first industry to adopt DMS technology, there was nothing else that existed to play with. This led to early software companies being heavily incentivized to create all-in-compassing ‘sandbox’ platforms that did everything. Unfortunately, it is hard to do everything and do it great, let alone support it. 

If we jump forward to modern technology, we can see that other industries have learned from our mistakes. Let’s look at one of the best-known examples, Salesforce.

Salesforce first started on February 3,1999. They were small and nimble and already knew that they could not be great at everything without compromising on certain things. They also knew that they needed to be able to work with already established players in order to find success. 

Just one year later, on February 7, 2000, Salesforce released the first modern web API. As they gained market dominance, they leaned into this strategy. Instead of focusing on locking customers in through contracts, they focused on making it easy to collaborate with their competition. 

This collaborative mindset was a complete shift in thinking. Traditionally in our industry, tech companies were incentivized to keep customers trapped in a single platform, whereas in other industries, they were incentivized to work together and build on each other’s strengths. This has proven that technology companies don’t have to be good at everything – you can just be great at one thing.

The API concept also maximizes opportunities for innovation. By providing open access for all to the same list of ingredients, allows everyone to join in and get creative with their recipes. Compared with sandbox platforms who have the burden of continually building on their existing technology to incorporate the next big thing, competitive collaboration encourages experimentation and innovation. 

That’s where we come in.

When we started AutoLeadStar we knew we couldn’t be another locked box of software. We wanted to create a company founded on transparency and collaboration. That’s why on November 30, 2022 we decided to open the API to our Customer Data and Experience Platform (CDXP). 

The decision was simple. Our company mission is to help dealers take full control and ownership of their first-party data and use it to orchestrate seamless shopping experiences for their customers. By opening our API we only further support that mission by creating more opportunities for data connectivity. 

Your data is yours and yours alone. We simply help you to harness it to the fullest extent. As we expand and develop our public API we will continue to support this mission, bringing you more connectivity and more room for innovation. We want to work directly with your vendors , whoever they may be, because we want to focus on building more of what we do best while enabling others with access to the same ingredients we have in order to continue innovating on behalf of you, the dealer. 

Our hope is that by opening our API, we will start a revolution, with more and more tech providers recognizing the value of public APIs so that we, as an industry, can begin fully realizing the benefits of connected data. 

This was originally posted on LinkedIn. View the original post here.