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What CDK Global and Microsoft’s New Partnership Means for Dealers – Mahesh Shah & John Reed

Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Mahesh Shah, Executive VP and Chief Product and Technology Officer at CDK Global, and John Reed, Director of Automotive Customer Experience Solutions for Microsoft, at the 2020 NADA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.


Mahesh ShahJim: You guys are doing some things with Microsoft. What’s the impetus for the collaboration between CDK and Microsoft?

Mahesh Shah: Yeah, so one of the core goals of Fortellis is really to drive an open ecosystem within the automotive industry and we firmly believe that by creating an open environment that allows software vendors to talk and interact with each other, it brings more value to our customers. As we were doing this, we really wanted, we needed partnerships to help us scale this and also to bring in more developer tools. Developers are key to bringing innovation into this entire environment. And actually we really wanted a partner that shares some of the same values. If you look at Microsoft, Microsoft has actually gone through some of the same journey as well in terms of driving open, by driving an open source movement in a lot of their products. And they also have a lot of the developer tools that we need to help expand this network. We really thought they were uniquely qualified to partner with us on this.

Jim: John, why does a partnership between these two companies make sense for both?

John Reed: Yeah, building on Mahesh’s point of, we were looking for the industry leader. There is tremendous demand we see from our customers, dealers, manufacturers to help them with the transformation that’s happening in the industry. And for Microsoft, the way that we work to Mahesh’s point, is to work with innovators that can help us reach into these industry scenarios in a very broad fashion. The focus that we have is Microsoft historically has been on partners and on developers. There’s a very complimentary set of capabilities between the two companies and a unique set of assets we can bring together to drive innovation with dealers.

Jim: Yeah. What does the partnership mean for dealers and developers?

Mahesh Shah: Yeah. What it means is, well for dealers, let’s start with there because we’re really trying to put our customers first in this. For dealers it should mean a more seamless workflow that they can enable. When they’re trying to do their work, it’s to drive efficiency in that workflow and more innovation. We really believe that this will bring more innovation. For the developers, what this brings is it just brings ease of development. It makes it as easy as possible for them to do the work and actually get things out as fast as they can possibly get it done.

Jim: Yeah, for sure. What benefits will the automotive retail industry see out of the partnership?

John Reed: Yeah. As Microsoft, as we’ve looked across the industry and we’ve taken feedback from these customers about the pace of innovation, we also compared this to broad industry trends. One of the things that we’ve seen is a forecast that over the next five years there will be 500 million new applications created across all industries.

Jim: 500 million?

John Reed: 500 million.

Jim: Wow.

John Reed: And so in that context, what we’re seeing is a tremendous amount of innovation, that’s being driven from the business, it needs to be done in an engineering manner. Governed well from an IT and a privacy standpoint. But we need to focus on what our dealer and manufacturer customers are interested in accomplishing in order to propel the transformation in their business. And so together Microsoft and CDK can bring to bear tools and innovations that allow those developers to meet that need and for those dealers and manufacturers to help transform their business.

Jim: Yeah. When was the whole program launched?

Mahesh Shah: This program was just launched in NADA with, between Microsoft and CDK. But as you know, we launched Fortellis a little while ago, but this is really a big change for us, in terms of driving the developer ecosystem. And by the way, one of the key things that John mentioned is bringing new applications into the environment. One of the things that we see with this is we will also put more power in the hands of the end users. Think of the dealer to actually be able to create some of their own solutions.

Jim: Yeah, that’d be cool.

Mahesh Shah: It doesn’t have to always come from some guy sitting in Silicon Valley building an application for it. Trying to make it easy for everybody.

Jim: Sure, sure. That’s fantastic. What future collaboration between the two organizations can the industry expect?

Mahesh Shah: We’re certainly going to look to continue to partner with Microsoft in many ways. Primarily it’s going to be around Fortellis and our ability to bring in any more tools around the developer and also bringing new technologies that we can bolt on and connect in with Fortellis that allow that to come more forward into the dealer environment. Think about developer tools, things around data as well are going to be key for all of this.

Jim: Yeah, that’s fantastic. What other things in here at the 2020 NADA show are you guys talking about at CDK?

Mahesh Shah: Let me continue with a little bit on Fortellis. We’re highlighting as part of this entire open movement is we’re announcing an advisory committee as well we pulled together for Fortellis and Microsoft is actually going to be a part of that.

Jim: Oh wow.

Mahesh Shah: And we are going to be bringing in others to help us further the goals of innovation within the entire automotive industry.

Jim: Fantastic.

Mahesh Shah: We also have a lot that we’re doing around flex and some of our new products, but I think those are some of the key things that you should see from us.

Jim: Sure. Fantastic. Gentlemen, I want to thank you so much for joining us here at CBT News during the NADA 2020 convention here in Las Vegas. It’s been very insightful and enlightening, so thank you for joining us.

John Reed: Thank you.

Jim: Thank you so much Jim.

John Reed: Thank you.

Jim: Great.

CBT News
CBT News
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