In the latest installment of the annual Power 300 issue of Auto Remarketing, we go behind the scenes with some of the leading companies in the used-car space and their top executives with a few Q&A features.
Next up is Rick Griskie, who is the chief information officer at ADESA.
Auto Remarketing: As the chief information officer of an auction company, what are some of the projects you’re working on and the puzzles you’re trying to solve?
Rick Griskie: As CIO, my biggest area of focus, privilege and challenge is enabling the digital transformation of ADESA, KAR and the automotive remarketing industry. To be successful, we are transforming the people, processes, tools, technologies, and most importantly, the culture of the ADESA technology team. We’re leading this revolution by leveraging a hybrid cloud strategy to deliver cutting-edge auction technology with user-centric design concepts and a robust digital marketplace.
We’ve been busy this year with several high-level projects. We recently upgraded our online simulcast bidding platform to ADESA Simulcast at our North American auctions. This technology has a responsive, user-friendly design that allows car buyers and sellers to bid in a nearly unlimited number of lanes. We then provided our car buyers with a completely reimagined online natural language search experience (an industry first), which has significantly improved the way they find vehicles. The load times on the search results page on www.adesa.com improved over 66%, returning results in just a few seconds.
The implementation of scaled agile, coupled with DevOps principles and culture, have enabled us to improve efficiency in bringing new products to market by over 200%.
Rick Griskie, ADESA
AR: Where do you see the biggest changes ahead for physical auctions?
RG: Like many industries, automotive remarketing has quickly evolved and is shifting more to online each year. Five years ago, about a third of sales were conducted online; now it’s exceeding 50% and climbing. The in-lane, digital and mobile buying experience for car buyers is rapidly converging. I’ve challenged my team to be at the forefront of this change and anticipate our customers’ buying preferences.
While this is an exciting time, the switch to online is causing us to rethink the role of the physical auction. While customers’ buying and selling habits are pointing more toward online transactions, physical auctions will still play a vital role in the future of remarketing. We can’t store cars in the cloud or recondition them with photoshop, after all. Physical auctions will have the opportunity to provide special services for customers that may not have been offered before. Auctions can develop new technical capabilities to focus on digitally representing the vehicles through photos and condition reports. Physical auctions must also work to decrease the overall cycle time for vehicles and provide unmatched reconditioning services.
AR: What are some technologies/evolutions on the retail side of automotive that you’re watching to see how they might impact wholesale?
RG: We have several exciting projects in the works. One of the most detailed projects my team is working on is the self-inspection application, which has the capability to digitally transform the lease maturity process. Working closely with an exclusive group of customers, our developers are fully integrating KAR data and analytics capabilities and leveraging augmented reality (AR) technology. This is still in development but anticipate a launch by year end.
We are also investing heavily in advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence. As these cloud technologies improve and our algorithms mature, we will be able to incorporate them into our self-inspection tools and other KAR technology products.
We are continually evaluating advancements in cloud technologies for practical business applications. Just this past month, we leveraged an emerging data streaming technology to bring another industry-first capability to our largest buyers — real-time inventory streaming.
AR: In your role, is there a lot of crossover with the other companies within the KAR Auction Services family?
RG: One of my primary objectives is converging solutions across all KAR brands, and checking that new developments have sharing components across our companies. We now have the ability on ADESA.com and our private-label sites to provide our customers with recommendations specific to their individual needs based on what their customers are searching for, their lot needs and market demands. This was built as a service by DRIVIN, a car inventory recommendation platform that uses data insights to identify inventory matches for dealers’ lots. This also includes recommendations for best market pricing, best venue to sell a vehicle and computerized damage estimates.
DRIVIN has also developed a pricing solution for our private labels, where real-time API calls are made from several of OPENLANE’s private-label websites to the DRIVIN “pricing insights” pricing optimization product. Vehicles are priced in real-time at the VIN level, leveraging this proprietary pricing algorithm, which has delivered over $85 million in annualized economic gains.