The Portal Puzzle

Many Provider Exchange Network customers have dealer-access “portal” sites.  These sites support electronic rating, contracting, and a variety of other functions.  Providers tell us they’re happy with this approach, and what they really want is DMS integration.  We end up referring these customers to 3PA and RCI.  Along the way, we try to make the case for PEN.

As I wrote recently in P&A Magazine, the purpose of PEN is to transfer data directly between the DMS and the provider’s administrative system, bypassing any intermediate systems.  While we do support a menu system, we connect “behind” it, on the provider side.

Farsighted providers, like Safe-Guard, recognize that their portal is just one tool the dealer might use to sell F&I products.  Indeed, some providers use a web-service approach to support a portal in parallel with multiple menu systems.  Our pitch with PEN is that going direct to the DMS results in a more streamlined process for the dealer.

Brockman Cracks Down on Interfaces

At lunch today, a colleague asked me what Reynolds’ strategy might be, with regard to shutting down DMS integration.  We have both worked on “unsanctioned” interfaces previously, and he wondered if dealer backlash might yet force Reynolds to change course.

They offer “certified” alternatives, which generally do not meet the commercial or technical needs of the ancillary systems. 

Most readers of this blog already know the story.  Dealers depend on their DMS, but they also need several other systems.  These ancillary systems share data with the DMS using a variety of techniques, none deemed safe or reliable by the DMS vendors.

For as long as I can remember, the vendors (ADP as well as Reynolds) have threatened to shut down these rogue interfaces.  They offer “certified” alternatives, which generally do not meet the commercial or technical needs of the ancillary systems.  With no DMS interface, the ancillary systems perform poorly.  The dealers suffer, and then defect to another DMS.

So, my friend wondered, will Reynolds continue shutting down DMS interfaces even if it means alienating scores of dealers?  Is the new CEO, Bob Brockman, really so adamant?  Well, I said, Mr. Brockman is known to prefer high margins rather than market share.

I observed that, under Brockman, Reynolds has ramped up its software development capacity.  He must recognize that every ancillary system represents a weakness in Reynolds’ product line, and every interface enables a competitor.

In Brockman’s position, I would first redouble my efforts to compete across the product line, and then I would cripple my competition by shutting down their DMS interfaces.  When dealers complained about losing their favorite, say, desking system, I could then offer an integrated product suite – without those nasty security issues.

This strategy is exactly how Microsoft parlayed the dominance of Windows™ into dominance for its Office™ suite.

Efficient DSP Integration

I have just published a white paper on DSP integration for F&I providers.  This builds on an observation I made while working at GMAC Insurance last winter.  Rather than struggle with a DMS interface, providers should develop their own web services – and let the various point-of-sale systems come to them.  This is much more efficient, and good SOA practice besides.  Click here to download the paper, or visit the Virag Consulting web site.

Reynolds Certified Interface

About a year ago, I advised GMAC Insurance to develop a service-oriented (SOA) front end, so that DSPs could integrate with them – instead of a DMS extraction approach.  This turns out to have been the right call, now that Reynolds has shut down DMS extraction.  No one I spoke to at the conference has a good solution to the new security measures.

Contact me if you need help developing a sanctioned interface.  I have a thorough understanding of the requirements, having been briefed in Dayton by Reynolds developers.