David Gesualdo

David Gesualdo

We’ve all been there. Another driver, engrossed in their text-message conversation, nearly involves you in a serious accident. You lay on the horn and they look up, shocked to realize they are still barreling down the road at highway speeds with their own life and those of the drivers around them on the line.

The answer was supposed to be voice control. I use my vehicle’s hands-free interface all the time. But I realize only a small percentage of vehicles nationwide have such systems, and not everyone uses them. The novelty of handheld communication has apparently not yet worn off.

Jim Ziegler details a recent close call to open this month’s edition of “On the Point” , and his story segues neatly into the proliferation of technology — both within and without the vehicles themselves — that permeates our industry, including the current trend toward large, smartphone-inspired, in-dash touchscreens.

As show chair of the annual Industry Summit, one of my principal duties is to work with our advisory boards, which are comprised of experts and thought leaders from every segment of our industry, to set priorities that will guide our selection of topics and speakers for three days of workshops, panels and keynote addresses that begins Sept. 8 at Paris Las Vegas.

For the co-located P&A Leadership Summit, the consensus was clear: Advanced technology and its inevitable byproduct, data, must be the focus.

Taken in aggregate and properly disseminated, data can help you if you let it and hinder you if you don’t. Our roster of esteemed speakers will discuss everything from underwriting and trend identification to business valuation and tax law.

As an auto dealer, the way you — and the companies that support you — do business is changing rapidly. The science and mathematics behind those changes is not purely academic. The power of big data is being applied all around us, from the factory to the showroom floor.

I can think of no better example than our cover subject, Andy Dasher of Winner Ford in Cherry Hill, N.J. As the dealership’s digital marketing manager, Dasher was already well-versed in the finer points of Web forms, email leads and online chat when he began experimenting with text-messaging platforms. He needed no other reason than the fact that text is fast becoming America’s preferred form of communication, a trend that shows no sign of abating as the market presence and buying power of Millennials proliferates in the years ahead.

In “The Art of Connectivity”, Jim Rogers discusses the utility of unified communications (UC), a technology many business are using to improve communication and information-sharing among their staffs. Using his own car-buying experience as an example, Rogers illustrates how UC made the difference in his choice of dealerships.

What game-changing communications platform will revolutionize the way you sell vehicles next? Only time will tell. For all our sakes, let’s hope it’s hands-free.