From a consumer perspective, we don’t always look favorably on the concept of big data even if it’s something that we don’t fully comprehend. The idea that companies are using information gathered about us to determine how best to market and sell to us is borderline offensive, especially in a world where new revelations continue to come to light about the end of privacy as we have known it.

Having an understanding of what big data really is and how it helps businesses will normally put a consumer’s mind at ease. It’s not like the NSA collecting meta-information about our phone and email conversations. It’s about following the lifestyle habits of large and small demographics in order to make intelligent recommendations on how to market appropriately to them. While very few enjoy being “marketed to” by companies, it’s a part of an open capitalistic society and yields great things for the people.

Television commercials and radio ads make those mediums possible in the first place. Would you pay for Facebook or other social media sites if they were forced to charge you to keep their doors open? Do you subscribe to a bunch of paid publications or do you get your news for free online?

Marketing and advertising are parts of our existence today. They keep us informed about things we want and need even if most of them are not directly relevant to us. This is where big data comes in and it’s why the automotive industry needs to embrace it. When the right message is put in front of us through the right medium at the right time, we benefit from that message. Those delivering the message benefit from it as well. It’s a good system that is underutilized in the car business.

Imagine a world where you were only served advertising messages about vehicles when you were in the market to buy one. Now, imagine if you were only marketed by the manufacturers and dealers who had vehicles that matched your interest. Finally, imagine if these messages only came through the various mediums that you regularly use and those messages were presented in an appropriate manner that did not interfere with your normal experience of the medium.

That’s business intelligence in a nutshell – utilizing big data in a way that effectively assists the sellers and the buyers.

Companies like String Automotive have hit the scene in recent years helping car dealers achieve this. They use “Dealer Intelligence” to harness various data sets specific to the automotive industry to help dealers reach the right consumers (at the right time with the right message on the right venue). Again, this is mutually beneficial; just as a consumer in the market for a new Ford F-150 doesn’t want to see lease specials for an Audi A4, Audi dealers don’t want to waste their money marketing to them and Ford dealers wouldn’t want to miss them.

The caveat is that business intelligence can go down a dark path when not used properly. The automotive industry has one of the richest sets of data points available due to the size of the purchase and the importance of vehicles in our lives. As such, it’s possible for companies to use this data the wrong way and guide manufacturers and dealers towards inappropriate marketing paths. Selecting the right type of business intelligence system is as important as deciding to take advantage of it in the first place.

The car business isn’t what it used to be. When dealers have the right information for their marketing and advertising, it’s a wonderful thing. It’s the only part of the industry through which the consumer, the manufacturer, and the dealer can all win when it’s utilized properly.

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