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Entries in Big Data (7)


Heightened Competition

The auto business has always been competitive, and will continue to be competitive.

With the emergence of big data, the competition has made quantum leaps in sophistication, harnessing a myriad of variables. Needless to say that gaining a competitive advantages is increasingly demanding, complex, and at times simpler.

In the auto business everyone knows, or should know that once an advantage has gone public, has hit the street, its immediately diluted, and can be replicated by a competitor.

A simple example:

Its a well known fact that the actual purchase month is from 10 to 40 as an example. Customers delay their decisions towards the end of the month, which often implies an incrementally better deal. Although all the product and pricing information is readily available on the Internet. The various incentives/bonuses from manufacturers to dealers are not available.

There are usually month long incentives, while depending on the sales volumes, there might be addtional incentives towards the end of the month. Interesting that these month end incentives that are geared to facilitate a decision are nowhere to be found on the Internet. Reflect on this for a moment...

Once any level of infirmation becomes common knowledge, its empowering for one individual, and of little value to another. It usually narrows the perspective.

As we have seen during the first quater of 2015, the competition among manufacturers, dealers, and customers availing themselves to the best deals increased. When auto sales reach new records, to gain incremental sales entails that one gains, and another loses. Its in the nature of the auto business...




Big Data 

As we get back to "reality" this morning.

Hoping that you had a wonderful summer with your family and friends, and that you are prepared to get back to the real thing.

As usual we are enjoying a few balmy days which were elusive during most the summer.

Enough pre ambles...let's get going.

Have you noticed that during a time of big data many individuals focus on the data, thinking that its the answer. We all hear data here, there, and literally all over the place, and of the various tools to better assemble big data in various formats. Dashboards becoming the favorites lately, while requiring tomorrow's data yesterday. 

Lets go back a few steps to gather some insight.

If you were around during the time when the slide rule was the order of the day. You surely remember that humans can understand a myriad if numbers and fomulas, but lacked the tools to comprehend a good quantity of numbers.

Obvious that Lotus 123 was quickly adopted by the folks that understood slide rules. It made by today's standards a modest amount of data easier to understand, and started providing a competitive advantage to companies that were proficient in understanding their numbers.

This entire process created the term "spreadsheet jockey" since one generation was more adept than another at "jockeying" spreadsheets. While focusing on numbers for the sake of the numbers.

Imagine spreadsheet jockeys, teamed up with powerpoint pilots what a powerful combination during a time of big data. Agreed you have to reflect on this for a moment.

As we get back to reality be aware that data generated by spreadsheet jockeys, and presented by powerpoint pilots is useless without a deep understanding of the customer, the business, and people.

Its the proufound understanding that makes the data come alive, become useful, provide an advantage.

During the Dog Days of Summer, we have seen more folks shuffle a bunch of data relating to the auto business for the sake of the data, that its it is scary. 




A Data Conversation - 1

Lets continue our conversation with The Colonel.

Q- Colonel we heard that you were on the leading edge of the Internet a couple of decades ago.

A- Guys what does the Internet have to do with data? hindsight I was too far ahead, and perhaps I'm still waiting for folks to catch up.

Q- Lets come back to the challenge, what do you mean?

A- When machines do a bunch of grunt work, they save time, and accelerate time. The Internet enabled machines to connect, while opening other possibilities. Broadband enabled the connections to become increasingly visual. The human brain must remain ahead of all this...

Q- Similar to a Moore's Law for the brain?

A- Great analogy guys...exactly that...the brain has to step it up to deal with the onslaught of data, and the modeling of data.

Q- It seems increasingly easy to get lost in the "data trees" and miss the "data forest".

A- Another great analogy...many folks get suffocated in the data details, losing the essence of the data.

Q- What happens when the data is erroneous, or fraught with lapses.

A- Most folks shy away from that discussion or use the "garbage in-garbage out" analogy. Its easy to fool people with "data" that is presented in a "slick fashion" where the presentation supercedes the quality of the data. 

Q- There are many folks in all sorts of fields talking a good line, about data, Internet, and so on.

A- Yes there are...the reason we have been saying that "you have to be your own editor" for several years now. You can safely say that around any industry there is a level of "pedestrian knowledge" with limited authority that becomes mainstream.

Q- Pedestrian Knowledge what is that?

A- Its a level of knowledge, data, that is easy to understand, it has a wide band of appeal, is repeatable, is transportable, and probably makes money for some folks.

Q- Similar to the idea that everyone knows something about cars, knows something about social media, can access simple metrics and weave a tale around them, can access simple content and use it for their "gain".

A- Precisely...

Q- Lets bring this a little closer to the car business, managing data with spreadsheets, and presenting data with Powerpoints.

A- There is an entire layer of management that for the past 20 years has used spreadsheets and powerpoints to save money, expand markets, and get themselves in serious "deep yogurt". Often selling a tale of BS using both. 

Q- How about dealers, and customers.

A- The Internet empowered the customer and it started 20 years ago. The Internet continues to disintermediate the dealer and it too started 20 years ago. The manufacturers have driven down costs, have passed along costs this vector also started close to 20 years ago. The dealer is caught in the middle, and being distracted by a myriad of forces.

Q- Is it fair to say the dealer has vast amounts of internal and external data?

A- Absolutely, vast amounts of internal data to grasp, comprehend, execute. Now the dealer must deal with a wave of "digital natives" as customers with their own distinct approach, needs, expectations, requirements.




Vroom Room

Good Morning!

Its Friday, its the Vroom Room come in make yourself comfortable enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation.

We agree, Spring was last week and its nowhere to be seen yet...good thing humans are flexible beings. 

This past week we have looked at "data" which as you know is emerging as an influencer in many business decisions, and will increasingly become more entrenched in the decision process. If you missed the conversation just scroll down.

Yes...the last full week of March. It will be fascinating and revealing to see the March results, and how the first quarter developed in Canadian sales. What do you think?

Rigid have to wonder how many instances of rigid, ingrained, thought processes go on the auto business, or any other business for that matter. Mind boggling how many folks inexorably get set in their ways, while thinking they are on the correct path...some interesting Wow moments. Leads you to wonder how much "rigid thinking" hides below the "facade" in the auto business.

Accompanied by the usual comment "Been in this business for...". The other form of rigid thinking is the folks that espouse technology, while arresting their thinking.

The Rant:

Have you noticed the recent thoughts from "knowledgeable pundits" on the length of finance terms for vehicles, trade ins with a negative equity position. We published an ebook Money for the Deal over a year ago. Did it really take the mainstream pundits so long to catch up to "reality".

The new Z28 is capturing a good level of attention from a multitude of pundits...its a good thing. Its refreshing to see Chevrolet uphold what the original Z28 (an option package to win races) was all about.

Our usual old race cars from the HMSA Spring Club Race 2014.



A Data Conversation

This morning we have The Colonel with us, and we are going to get his thoughts on data, especially with the emergence of big data.

Q- Colonel Good Morning, you look well, perhaps even rejuvenated.

A- Good Morning guys, thanks for the cappuccino, and blowing some smoke.

Q- Tell us about your experiences with data, how did it start?

A- Lets agree that data is numbers, and we always need to deal and grasp numbers. 

Q- We agree, its numbers.

A- Great, now go back a few decades, to the days of slide rules, log tables, calculus, and the frustration of calculating "rates of....(fill in your own blank).

Q- The classic example of calculating the speed, rate of acceleration of a rocket, enhanced by diminishing mass.

A- Precisely, it was easier to mentally visualise it, than calculate it.

Q- Would you have another example?

A- Calculating the piston speed in an engine, its relatively easy to do, but calculating different speeds, for different strokes, at different RPM's is time consuming. The ideal application for a "binary" system.

Q- You mean what we understand today as a computer.

A- Precisely...if you go back a few decades, it was clumsy at best to even get a computer to perform these generic calculations. You had to write the program first, then type it on punch cards, then get the machine to work. Then you could quickly repeat the calculations over and over.

Q- What about the advent of the spreadsheet.

A- Prior to the spreadsheet many companies dealing with massive amounts of data, information, and relying on a battery of clerks; started migrating towards call them computerised data bases. The spreadsheet came about with the advent of the "personal computer" (PC). the late 1980's we all started using Lotus 123 on 5 1/2 floppy discs.

Q- Those 5 1/2 inch floppies must have been cumbersome? 

A- Ideally you wanted a PC with 2 disc drives, you were constantly exchanging floppies in the drives to keep on going, it was cumbersome, but also very fast for the time.

Q- We could keep on discussing the various details. What underlying message did you grasp from the advent of the PC, and spreadsheets.

A- I was fortunate to have evolved from doing math mentally, to slide rules, log tables, punch cards, rudimentary computers filling a room, spreadsheets. The message for me "The human brain was quantum leaps ahead of all this stuff".

Q- You are saying that none of this stuff came close to the human brain in thinking. It must have enhanced the brain?

A- still enhances the brain when a machine does the "grunt work" for you.

Q- Grunt work? We have smart devices today?

A- A binary machine can do a ton of grunt work which saves a ton of time. The smart devices are primarily for communication, entertainment, and keeping folks tethered to "something". 

Q- Folks get engulfed in the abilities of these machines, and smart devices.

A- Its a formidable challenge to have folks use their brains to think beyond the machines.

Q- To think beyond the machines, and data requires a profound understanding.

A- It sure does...and it sure is part of the challenge.

We should continue... 



Vroom Room 

Good Morning!

Its Friday, its the Vroom Room, come in make yourself comfortable, we have cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation.

Back in the day...way back in the day, it was called Big Brother is watching....imagine with the pervasiness of technology how easy it is for big brother to watch over you today and in the future. We were somewhat surprised by the naivete of most folks that were shocked when it became more transparent that big brother is watching.

If you remember from way back in the day when telephones had "party lines" or multiple lines, and other folks could listen in on your conversations, until the private line became more prevalent.

In an age of big data, obvious that "data mining" is discreetly practiced. Obvious too that you should not be surprised at all, or shocked, or taken aback.

An informative article "You Have No Control Over Security on the Feudal Internet"

Have you noticed that many dealers are by now swamped with all sorts of technologies, all sorts of activites that did not exist only a few years ago. You would think that after countless years of technology it would be simpler, easier, more efficient...its not...go figure. 

You have to wonder if dealers do not attend the various seminars, webinars, groups, seeking some sort of magic bullet that does not exist.

Some old cars from the Great South American Challenge.





Big Data

We have been hearing the term "big data" for some time, and often wonder what it implies. Perhaps you are in the same position at times scratching your head about the meaning of big data, analytics, and often accompanied by cloud computing.

Think back for a moment to the advent of spreadsheets, if you are of a certain age you surely remember using Lotus 123 and what you could do with a spreadsheet back in the day. Especially the facility of refining decisions involving data, which were previously tedious, requiring a myriad of manual calculations. 

Lotus 123 was a dark science to most folks back in the day of 5 1/2 inch floppies, and PC's literally slowing down when a spreadsheet was a "little bigger".

The same applies to big data, analytics, and cloud computing, the folks that have a profound understanding of big data have a distinct advantage in a business environment, although we can discuss/debate the quality of some decisions, they surely do have an advantage. 

Think about the amount of data that is available in your business, and the amount of data that is available, and generated outside of your business. Reflect for a moment on who is possibly using the data that is available outside of your business to gain an advantage on you. 

If you are still in the starting blocks of "social media" for your business, someone else competing with you is using "big data" to better grasp what is going on in the social sphere (your customers).

Reflect on this for a moment. 

ABC is trying to grasp the basics of social media, attending conferences, and webinars on the importance and novelty of social media (being a follower). While XYZ is using big data to gain additional insight from the various activities in social media, and how to increase its competitive advantages. Onvious that no one will give you a conference or a webinar on gaining an advantage.

Consider the pundits telling auto dealers that they should have a social media strategy, should have a presence on various platforms (we all know the names), should research what is going on in their market area, should espouse mobile, and so on. 

In the meantime every employee of the dealer has a smart device, most probably is on at least one or several social platforms...think about this for a moment.

Care to share your thoughts...leave a comment.