Sharon Kitzman on Using Data to Cut Down on Spam

May 22, 2023
Sharon Kitzman is the President of Dominion DMS.
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Key Takeaways:

  1. Dominion Dealer DMS has a long history, with Dominion acquiring the company ACS (Automotive Computer Systems) about eight years ago.
  2. Data plays a crucial role in the DMS, as it is the currency that dealers rely on for managing and securing their information.
  3. The integration of various software solutions is essential for enhancing data efficiency and eliminating duplicate entry.
  4. AI can be used to analyze workflows, identify areas for improvement, and drive efficiency across the dealership.
  5. The focus should be on putting the consumer at the center of the automotive experience and improving customer journeys.
  6. Better integration among different touchpoints and data convergence is necessary to enhance the consumer experience.
  7. In five years, the ideal situation would involve using data in a way that is meaningful to consumers, ensuring trust and delivering valuable insights.

Relevant Stories with Timestamps:

00:00: Introduction of Sharon Kitzman, President of Dominion Dealer DMS.

00:25: Amplify Intro and Guest Welcome.

01:28: Discussion on Dominion's history and its position in the market.

02:40: Importance of data in the DMS and its increasing significance.

03:46: Exploring the concept of AI and its application in the automotive industry.

05:19: Transition of the DMS from a storage place to a living, breathing part of the organization.

06:27: Mapping data efficiency and insights to the consumer experience.

07:45: Identifying integration as a barrier to achieving a seamless customer journey.

08:40: Vision for the future of data utilization and reducing spam.

11:48: Encouraging dealers to work closely with solution providers and push for tighter integration.

12:36: Closing remarks and end of the episode.

During Automotive Retail USA 2023 in Las Vegas, Paul J Daly and Kyle Mountsier interviewed dealers, OEM representatives, industry partners and more, looking to make the most innovative voices in retail automotive louder.

This is Amplify, the retail automotive podcast by Reuters Events and ASOTU.

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Kyle Mountsier: 0:00All right, we have Sharon Kitzman, with Dominion Dealer DMS, and she is the President.

Unknown: 0:07

This is Amplify, a retail automotive podcast brought to you by Reuters Events and ASOTU it's time to make the most innovative voices in retail, automotive louder

Kyle Mountsier: 0:25

I decided to uh, you know, everyone always just kind of throws titles around like the way Dominion DMS. I was like, No, she is the President. Yes, exactly. Thanks for joining us here at the AMPLIFi podcast. Really appreciate it.

Sharon Kitzman: 0:39

Absolutely. You guys are right, in a position nicely inside the door.

Kyle Mountsier: 0:43

Exactly. Yeah, we gotta be right. Here's

Paul Daly: 0:45

the thing about this position. I like it. I don't like I like that it's by the door. But I also have eye contact with the door, which is a bad place for me to be because like, I try to keep my head turn this way. You get to look at the light. There you go.

Kyle Mountsier: 0:57

There you go. Well, okay, so let's get into it. Because when I think most people when they hear the three letters, DMS in the world, it's like, it's like people hear dealers, and then they like dealerships and then like DMS and they're like, oh, okay, here we go. Right. That's just kind of the moat around it. And Dominion, even though not one of the largest, you've been around for a little bit of time, right? Talk to us about the history of the company a little bit and where Dominion positions itself in the market?

Sharon Kitzman: 1:28

Absolutely. So we have been around for a little while, there was a company that preceded dominion, DMS, by the name of ACS or automotive computer systems. And they were in the market for about 15 years. Dominion acquired them about eight years ago, and decided to, as a lot of companies do when they acquire pump, pump some money into the effort. And as we sit right now, we're about two and a half years into the launch of a brand new Microsoft based cloud native solution. Very

Kyle Mountsier: 2:01

cool. Very cool. All right. So the big question, I think, around DMS is right now is there's so much data in DMS, customer record service record sales records, financial type records, there's so much data in there. That right now, when data is becoming an is the currency is so important to understand See, even get out of the DMS to be able to utilize, what are you seeing in this, like, very new? Oh, the DMS is way more important than we maybe ever even thought that it was just from an accounting side of things. What are you seeing in like, the new interaction with the DMS right now?

Sharon Kitzman: 2:40

Yeah, so you probably didn't know that the D stands for Data in right now, but it almost should, because the dealers really do rely on us not only to manage the data for them, but to keep it safe and secure. And to only share it with people that they want it shared with. We believe, as I think most do in the industry, that the data is the dealer's data. They are the ones that put a lot of work and effort into making sure that it's entered into the system accurately and fairly. And they put a lot of advertising dollars into getting that data in in the first place. Sure. I see trends in the industry, though, where there's data feeds, accessed by the DMS on behalf of the dealer that they haven't even thought about yet. In my session earlier today, we talked about logistics data, which is not normally part of the automotive industry, right? Would you like to know, shipments that are coming to your dealership AI and their ability to utilize solutions that are not traditionally automotive based solutions?

Paul Daly: 3:46

I have the pleasure data, yes. Because you just said AI. Like it's just it's the thing, and everyone's talking about it. And everyone means something different about it. So when you say AI, what do you mean?

Sharon Kitzman: 3:57

Yeah. Again, we talked about it earlier today. So I guess I'm just throwing it out there like you and I have already had this conversation, and I should stop and explain it a little bit.

Paul Daly: 4:06

That's my job here. Okay, just to be the lowest common denominator in the tech and data, right. I represent every man.

Sharon Kitzman: 4:13

So, so unique, I think to our platform is we're a very open ecosystem platform. We encourage our dealers to go out and find the best solution for their dealership in all components. And on average, dealers have about 16 unique software solutions in their dealership. So if you just think about maybe the touchpoints in buying a car, data could go from a website to a CRM system to a desking system that maybe do an f&i menu system before it comes into the DMS in f&i. One application of AI might be to analyze that workflow as a DMS provider because we got touches along the entire path by salesperson by a sales manager by f&i Manager by store across an enterprise and say, here's where your processes efficient, because it took X number of minutes for that process to happen, here's another place where it was not. And here's some opportunities where we can pop AI into the process and help drive efficiency along.

Kyle Mountsier: 5:19

I think it's a new look, because historically, DMS was just a holding place, right? It just kind of said, here's all of the things, the accounting system, right, it was the accounting system, that was the last barrier, and it just kind of held things. And what you're saying is no, because we have all of this, it can actually be a living, breathing, moving part of the organization that can integrate and map to all of these other things that you're doing, whether it be process building, or technology mapping,

Sharon Kitzman: 5:51

right? Insights, insights into your business on a daily basis based on data, that should drive more profit for you. More sales or more efficiency, as you just mentioned,

Kyle Mountsier: 6:01

ya know, one of the things that I think here at the Reuters event is, is a conversation that's been constant already, just what a little over a half day in has been that keeping the consumer at the center of every discussion is extremely important. How do you see that data efficiency insights and everything that the the DMS, which historically has just been kind of a storage place? How do you see that mapping to consumer experience?

Sharon Kitzman: 6:27

So I'm not only in the automotive industry, I also drive a car so happened to be a consumer, which is unique. I know, it's like a

Kyle Mountsier: 6:36

year for that to happen. Right?

Paul Daly: 6:38

If you know that thing. Do you know if I'm not only the President, I'm also a client? No, I don't do remember that I do. His Hair Club for Men. Yeah. Oh, yeah, I could join that. That's good.

Sharon Kitzman: 6:50

It's hard to tell, you know, the hats and everything. But, um, so I, you know, have some experiences that quite frankly, were not great, right, have as a consumer being told something by my car that was required for repair, going online and entering a whole bunch of data into one solution, and then showing up at a dealership with that appointment. And, quite frankly, the service advisor asked me that data all over again. So I think there's a ton of opportunity yet in this industry to continue to put the consumer at the center, and do better by our consumers who are taking the time to embrace the technology and the automation and want that experience of not being asked that question three times through the process,

Kyle Mountsier: 7:35

what's the biggest barrier to, to getting to like a really, really full realization of that type of customer journey?

Sharon Kitzman: 7:45

I think, better integration amongst all those piece parts, we talked about it in the sales cycle, but it exists in the service side that I just gave you an example of as well, making an appointment on the website, going into the dealership, and also the telematics coming out of the vehicle, and all converging and making sure that that convergence is is ripe with all the data that was available from those three different touchpoints so that the consumer isn't caught in the middle.

Paul Daly: 8:12

Yeah. Five years from now. Things are moving quickly. Right, right now, five years from now, what do you what is the most ideal situation you think we can be in from a data standpoint? And I know, it's five years, right? So it's not a lot. It's not like 10, right? 10, you can kind of like lob it over the over the horizon and paint this ideal picture. Five years is gonna come fast, right. But there's still some time to get some things done. What do you think it'll look like? And four should look like in five years?

Sharon Kitzman: 8:40

Well, I gave some stats earlier in my presentation about over 3 million emails being sent every second. Right now, as we sit here today. That's It's unbelievable.

Paul Daly: 8:53

Every When did you say every second? I thought you said every day? And then I heard the second and this

Sharon Kitzman: 8:58

isn't? This isn't automotive specific. This is globally, right? Just, you know, and and that 60 67% of them are spam. So

Paul Daly: 9:08

what I would like I believe that if you look at my inbox, what I would

Sharon Kitzman: 9:11

like to see in five years is, is data being used in a way so it's not spam, so that everything that comes into my inbox is not treated by me as a spam mail that but that I can actually trust that I signed up to be the recipient of this data. And now I'm receiving this data in a format that is meaningful to me that I can go and use and that I'm not just in a blanket statement saying click all to delete and deleting them that I'm getting. I've never

Paul Daly: 9:42

done that. See, I know people that have clicked all to delete, and they seem very liberated by that. I just have to still kind of like pick

Sharon Kitzman: 9:54

on Gmail where you have like the promotions tab and you know,

Paul Daly: 9:58

I don't use Gmail, so maybe it might I don't even make it into my inbox and Gmail might have done its job well,

Kyle Mountsier: 10:04

and like, the thing is, that's like a common universal problem. And that's why so much of communication is just disregarded. You know, and and it's tough because some of that communication is desired. It's warranted, like you think about, you just

Paul Daly: 10:22

gotta if you're not watching, you're just listening. We got a little bit of an eye roll. That might be our first eye roll of the day.

Kyle Mountsier: 10:27

No, but there is some, you know, like, you reach out to a dealer, right? Yeah, you schedule an appointment to test drive or to service your car. And it's like, at the same time, you got the confirmation email, you also got 33 spam emails. Yes. And now you have to fight through all of that to get to what you actually need and what that can serve you as a customer. So

Sharon Kitzman: 10:48

the eye roll was about my 80 year old mom who reads every single one of those.

Paul Daly: 10:54

She's not printing them out. She's afraid. Maybe we don't need to print the internet. Right. She's

Sharon Kitzman: 10:59

afraid they're important. She's, you know, and she's fair, though. Right? She gets caught by the scammer. scammer. Yeah, yeah. scam. Scam.

Paul Daly: 11:09

Yeah. What did the Nigerian prince seem so sweet?

Sharon Kitzman: 11:13

Sweet, even though he's holding me hostage and has used AI to replicate my voice? Oh,

Paul Daly: 11:20

yeah. Let's not end

Kyle Mountsier: 11:22

on that. No, yeah. So as as you're working with dealers, and obviously, in this puzzle of data and, and connectivity. You know, there are multiple partners at play. And you kind of sit somewhat at the center of that. But what are you encouraging dealers with to make this future of data efficiency and customer journey efficiency possible? Like how are you encouraging your dealers to do that?

Sharon Kitzman: 11:48

I'm encouraging them to I think I said earlier, on average, they have 16 solution providers and their dealership, I'm encouraging them to push those 16 different solution providers to ensure that the data is is is being secured correctly, to understand where each of those solution providers are on their lifecycle of their products, and whether they're continuing to invest in them to make sure that they're leveraging that data correctly. And to push them to integrate to their DMS as tightly as they possibly could, so that they drive efficiency into the process and eliminate a lot of the duplicate entry. Yeah, that their, their team members need to do, unfortunately.

Paul Daly: 12:30

Well, Sharon, it was really a pleasure to have you on the show today. Here comes that cool music. Thank you so much for giving us some of your time today.

Sharon Kitzman: 12:36

Thank you. It's great to be here.

Unknown: 12:41

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