Believe it or not, it’s time to start thinking about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (a type of AI that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed*), and how these technologies will be used in our businesses and automobiles soon. The possibilities are exciting—perhaps even mildly scary—to consider.
How have we gotten to this point in technological advancements? And what does it mean for your dealership?
While, for decades, the promise of “thinking machines” has remained unfulfilled, essentially providing nothing more than fodder for science fiction authors, things have started to change. Functional advances in computing power, storage capacity, and software capability have provided the quantum leap to make what was only theoretically possible in the 1960s practically possible today.
The structural change in how data is stored—now online, in the cloud, rather than in data centers—and how it is accessed—through programming interfaces (called APIs)—also provide the ability to use information in innovative ways.
We can already see elements of artificial intelligence and machine learning in our daily lives. Siri and Alexa are good examples of “digital personal assistants,” which provide personalized services based on what they’ve learned about you.
The Possibilities and Realities of AI in Your Dealership
An even more intriguing prospect of AI is how it could be used in the business context. Understanding how that would work requires a quick look at how AI and machine learning are possible in the first place—and that’s a story that starts with the cloud.
Cloud solutions provide an unprecedented advantage for the development of AI because all the raw data of millions of people can be made anonymous and used to create the foundation on which AI and machine learning is built.
That data gets pieced together and used collectively. Machine learning takes place across the data to serve up AI insights and actions that can drive efficiency and performance and deliver greater convenience, while further eliminating repetitive, manual, and tedious tasks.
In simpler terms, the technology doesn’t just collect information—it learns from what it stores. Take modern accounting software, for example. It’s getting smarter, automatically performing analysis that previously required human intervention. Consider bank reconciliation. AI systems could learn how to completely automate this infuriating job and free up your time.
Already, online shopping sites like eBay and Amazon use machine learning to make accurate recommendations of products and services their customers may be interested in. Future DMS platforms will be capable of doing the same for their own products and services. With an innovative DMS, you’ll have access to those insights and recommendations.
Internal and External Data for Greater Context
It’s not only internal data from which machines learn and provide AI insights. For example, the Autosoft chatbot, some AI we’re developing, will help you with daily tasks and reminders and connect you with social media insights.
And, remember Siri? Imagine an intelligent assistant that could answer questions and provide information from your accounting and vehicle inventory systems, as well as the broader business environment.
Autosoft has imagined just that kind of helpful AI and is working on it. Machine learning technology would also automate many other tasks, such as coding invoice transactions and providing access to real-time customer and vendor information from public records—like we do today in our new DMS platform where we sync customer information with social profiles and public data.
How Automation and AI Benefit the Dealership
With considerable advances in machine learning and AI, overall, being made every day, the real question dealerships are likely to wrestle with is, “How do these advancements affect me?” A tendency to be wary of progress has often accompanied the industrialization and technological advancement of society. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, change can be frightening, particularly when it impacts your job and business.
But the introduction of AI heralds opportunity more than anything else. Machine learning cannot match human insights; rather, it complements brain power. It does the heavy lifting of calculations, the dull labor of reconciliations, and the tedious work of verifying information.
While AI does mean computers learning and applying insights, they cannot think like you do and are unlikely to offer the emotional intelligence needed to navigate the complexities of the human interaction.
As machine learning and AI take an increasingly prominent role in the dealership, these technologies will make you more proficient, more productive, and more capable of taking on and handling more customers. They will also deliver more value through analytical insight, rather than through long hours of tallying up figures, or worse, guessing.
Exciting times are ahead, especially as we see new technology emerge in the automotive industry. The dealership of the future will experience the benefits of AI and machine learning . . . and it’s right around the corner.