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IT insight: The changing face of the DMS market

Since Pendragon’s acquisition of Pinewood eight years ago, the UK dealer management systems (DMS) market has been in a state of flux; and with the news of Kalamazoo owner Universal Computer Systems’ (UCS) proposed multi-billion pound purchase of Reynolds and Reynolds, there’s no let up in sight.

But what does all this consolidation mean for dealers?

Geoff Miller, sales director at Pinewood and Kerridge ex-director, says things have changed in the UK DMS market post Block Exemption. He says: “The top players got complacent, even arrogant. I think they felt like their products were unbeatable and their position within the market unassailable. Post Block Exemption a number of smaller DMS providers appeared and began to take share from the established names.”

Integrating a system

Arguably, the events which led to a profound change in the DMS market can be traced back further still. Miller feels it was Kerridge’s courage in the recession-hit Nineties that helped propel the company to number one spot in the UK.

“A lot of providers made redundancies in a bid to reduce costs and batten down the hatches. Being a family-owned business, Kerridge decided to reinvest and re-tool, meaning they came out that period streets ahead of the competition,” he says. Miller recalls Kerridge’s share being around 54% of the market by the late Nineties.

In the past, a dealer would phone the manufacturer for its approved provider, which essentially meant a choice between Kerridge or Kalamazoo. Now, once a DMS provider has written an interface, all other providers have access to it – meaning if a provider wants to aggressively go for a relationship with a retail group, they can write the same interfaces as the carmakers’ endorsed products.

Integration is the buzzword in today’s DMS market. To fully integrate a system with the needs of the car manufacturer is a long, hard and expensive undertaking, though a vital one, as MMI Automotive managing director David Hayward explains.

“Integration is becoming far more important than endorsement. Today there needs to be a two-way flow of information between the DMS provider and vehicle manufacturer. Dealers look at a DMS and want to know, ‘does it work’, and ‘does it talk to the manufacturer?’,” he says...(Continues in August 25 issue of AM)

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