F&I Conference Mobilization Nation Panel in Vegas

I was privileged to be invited to speak on the Mobilization Nation Panel at the F&I Conference in Las Vegas, September 14th by Greg Arroyo, Executive Editor with F&I Magazine. This topic is a very important one for the automotive industry and one close to my heart.

I thought it might be helpful to our readers to summarize the panel. First, those that attended on the panel in addition to myself were:

  • Moderator Tariq Kamal, F&I and Showroom
  • John Leaver, Director Field Operations, MobiDrives, LLC
  • Dave Nash, VP Product Marketing, ADP Dealer Services
  • Larry Wiesen, Visual Designer, Mobile Applications, Kelly Blue Book

One of the topics covered in depth was whether Mobile Apps are the way to go in the future, especially for dealers, or whether ‘mobilizing’ web applications is the wave of the future. There was a lot of discussion on this one, with John Leaver heavy in the app camp. Surprisingly enough, this was an area where DMS providers agreed with KBB. Mobile Apps are not very applicable to the dealer market and are really only for very niche toolsets and markets. When Smartphones are only about 25% of the mobile market, the cost to develop on each of the platforms (Droid, Blackberry, etc.) and to market your app is prohibitive. The best way to get in the mobile game is to provide a mobile solution that is readable by 100% of the data enabled mobile phone market.

Most importantly, everyone agreed that dealers must incorporate mobile into their future plans as soon as possible. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), cell phone use is far higher than Internet use. At the end of 2009 there were 4.6 billion cell phone subscriptions worldwide (76 percent of the world’s 6.8 billion people) while only 26 percent of world population uses the Internet. Forrester also reported in 2009 that 51 percent of mobile device owners use them for sending and receiving text messages, up from 38 percent in 2008. This is where your consumers will be. Will you?

The best and easiest way to get started in mobile is for dealers to make sure they have a mobile version of their website that is readable by 100% of data enabled phones. But remember that is just the first basic step, there is so much more! You will see more blog posts here about the next steps you can take in your mobile strategy.