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Now Open, The Automotive App Store: The Open App Approach to Uniting an Industry

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What makes the Apple brand indestructible? There are a million valid answers to this question. Is Apple’s technology more advanced than Google’s? Not necessarily. Are their smartphones more intelligent than all other smartphones? Probably not. But no one can dispute the fact that they are the simplest devices to navigate for the vast majority of the population. Apple products dominate the market because they’re easy to use, and they integrate flawlessly with one another through Apple’s iCloud.

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When we take a step back from the entire culture Apple has created, and strip down every product they’ve reinvented, we start to see the roots of what made them so successful in the first place. We see the App Store, and through that we see unification. We see both integration and alliances. We see the reason people feel naked without their iPhones. The iPhone is so integral to its owner because it makes their lives easier and better. The App Store puts the power in our hands to access tools that improve the way we function on a day-to-day basis. It puts the world at our fingertips, and so many of the best apps out there are free.

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Take Waze for example. It is the largest community-based, interactive traffic and navigation app in existence. Its value comes entirely from its users and the information they provide in real-time. The technology aggregates and builds upon user data to calculate the most efficient route from Point A to Point B, saving drivers both time and money. In so many ways (no pun intended), Waze created a more efficient rail system of data that benefits everyone on the road.

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What if the automotive industry could create this same type of unified data railroad? What if we knocked down our walls and opened up our own Automotive App Store — free of charge? What if every vendor, dealer and OEM had faster, more accurate data? What could we accomplish as a community rather than as competitors?

CDK Global has already adopted this open app approach when they announced their new Partner Program in September, in efforts to create an ecosystem of approved vendors and applications that can be successfully integrated into a CDK dealer Website. Could it be? Vendors actually working together to reap the benefits of the bigger picture? To be fair, Dealer.com was the first Website company to formalize a partnership program, but the promise of open data integration has been slower than expected.

I’ve been fortunate enough to be on both sites of the battle. During my time as CMO at MileOne Automotive, one of our biggest struggles was getting vendors to integrate and work properly together. However, our biggest strength was having the insight to see the unique benefits of two different companies and the means to bring them together in a way that benefited all. Now that I’m on the vendor side, I’ve seen a need for these types of partnerships to happen now more than ever. We know dealers suffer when vendors don’t work together. When dealers and OEMs suffer, vendors also suffer. So let’s change that, shall we? In an industry where everyone charges a fee to be connected, what if we stopped charging in order to make stronger, mutually beneficial connections?

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By adopting Apple’s open app approach, our industry can simplify and unravel a complicated subject — a subject that is perhaps the one absolute in a field inundated with ambiguous topics like “big data” and “attribution.” Sharing this type of knowledge is the one thing that could change this industry for the better. Having access to both accurate and up-to-date sales attribution data will make every decision this industry makes smarter, every solution more efficient, and every dollar we spend go further. Now that is something to get excited about.

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