Where is your data? Is it yours?
Who is watching it? Who is using it? Who is paying to see it,
or use it? What is it being used for? Who is “keeping”
it? Are they keeping it for you? Or others?
You may or not be aware, but
as reported in Automotive News last month, one of the BIG OEM
computer systems providers, notably the same one that provides
computer software for our industry, was “caught” removing
and selling data from the dealers’ systems it provided,
without authorization from the dealers.
These are important questions
that you need to be considering. I know our Association is concerned
and asking these questions. Like all things in life or business,
there are different and sometimes competing agendas. I will pose
a thought for you on each of the above questions.
Where is your data? – Is
it only on your computer, or other systems?
Is it yours? – I know you
think it belongs to you, but are you sure? Does your computer
system provider or other 3rd parties that are collecting your
data agree with you, that it is yours – in writing?
Who is watching it? – Who
is seeing your data? And for what purpose?
Who is using it? – Who
is using it, just your trading partners? Your competitors? Aftermarket
companies or other parties that want to understand pricing?
Are you restricted in who you
provide your data to? – Will your provider send the information
anywhere you ask? (For a reasonable and competitive fee, of course.)
Is their competition to see and
use your data, and more than one place for you to send it? –
If not, how can you know you are being treated fairly?
Who is paying to see it, or use
it? – Are others’ seeing it free, or paying to see
it? I know, you want to sell more parts, so it’s a good
thing... you are sure about that, right?
What is it being used for? –
There are hundreds of uses... is it being used to help your sales?
To track cars you dismantle? To validate cars totaled?
Who is “keeping”
it? – Are they “keeping” it? For you? For them?
Who is paying for those services, and does it represent any conflict
for your business, or sales and profits?
I could go on and on.
BOTTOM LINE –make sure that
ANYONE you release your data to commits in writing to only use
it for purposes you authorize, and if they are paid for it, to
reveal that relationship. Make sure your computer company agrees
that the data is yours, and that they won’t let others have
it, without your knowledge or permission – and make them
do it in writing. (Just like they do, getting your John Henry
before they provide anything to you!)