Big Data

Big Data is an evolving science. Can it become an exact science?

Big data, the ability to harness massive streams of digital traffic and convert it into actionable items such as individual sales leads, is an evolving science. So can anyone transform big data into an exact science?

Working toward that goal is SCI Marketview, a digital consulting firm based outside of Toronto that added talent in Detroit in 2007 on behalf of General Motors. Last year, the company opened an office in Detroit’s the Chrysler House (formerly the Dime Building), and it has since branched out to work with other OEMs and dealerships.

“You want to fish where the fish are at, but first you have to find the right pond,” says Alan H. Bird, SCI’s president and CEO. “For GM, we manage every type of (sales) lead that comes from their corporate websites, 4,400 dealers, and more than three dozen auto-centric websites. Our job, using digital analytics, is to identify the best leads and deliver them to GM.”

While auto dealers are incredibly adept at responding to someone who’s entering a showroom — whether it’s leasing or selling new or used vehicles, or handling service work, financing, or accessory sales — they’re not nearly as efficient on digital leads. In fact, Bird says 32 percent of Internet leads from potential customers never receive a dealer response.

“If 32 percent of the people walking through a dealer’s door were totally ignored, you would see a new sales staff overnight,” he says.

To help increase replies that may lead to higher sales, SCI recently introduced a mobile application that allows dealers to reply to a digital lead immediately. “You could be at the Geneva Auto Show, and when you’re alerted to a lead for a Cadillac, you can respond from the show floor,” Bird says.

Next up for SCI is an application that will identify search engine entries that are driving leads, which can be put into Google AdWords. “We’re developing tools that center dealership digital marketing activities around consumer behavior,” Bird says. db

b— R.J. King