Enabling The Dealer Network To Optimize Parts, Service & Warranty To Drive Service Profitability: An Interview with Ashok Kartham, Chief Product Officer, Syncron
“In 1995, as web adoption was excelling and Internet browsers were engaging users I realized three key things. One, there was a clear opportunity for manufacturers and dealers to improve their profitability by focusing on the service side of the business. Two, the need was underserved by the existing software and three, technology trends were showing opportunities to enhance the entire process for all stakeholders throughout the service and warranty ecosystem.”
The MAPconnected Vehicle Service and Warranty Lifecycle Summit 2022 is approaching. A collaborative conversation, led by some of the most brilliant minds in the industry, will be hosted at the Westin Southfield Detroit on the 25th - 26th of October. We had the opportunity to sit down with Ashok Kartham, Chief Product Officer at Syncron.
In the early 90s, Ashok was working at John Deere in the warranty and product support area when the future that he envisioned, one based on using technology to greatly improve the process and profitability of the warranty environment through enhancing communication, became a clear objective.
“Most existing software systems such as ERPs and CRMs were not addressing the needs: better communication and collaboration between the OEM and the dealer network,” mentioned Kartham. Parts, Service and Service Contracts could generate higher margins for the manufacturer and, the entrepreneurial streak in him, understood how. Ashok went on to build and launch 4CS in 1995 which was later acquired by PTC Inc in 2011.
Just one year later, once the integration was complete, Ashok launched Mize. He said, “there was an unfinished opportunity, mobile was being adopted by consumers. Companies could leverage mobile technology to enhance customer experiences by improving service delivery to the end customer.”
Mize allowed for the next part of Ashok’s vision to take hold, “by using mobile technology to deliver a connected customer experience, the Mize platform supported increased revenue for manufacturers and dealers.” Mize used both web and mobile technologies to enable field technicians and call centers. Often, field technicians are the interface between the dealer or OEM and the end customers. Mize focused on ensuring easy access to product knowledge, and by doing so, empowered technicians.
This approach was also adapted within the aftermarket parts space. Kartham went on to say, “the biggest problem was that the data was not connected. Services were processed manually and customer problems took days to resolve which led to frustration." When data is not connected, stakeholders are not connected and processes are not connected, the business becomes a collection of siloed systems, “we saw the need for connected experiences.”
Syncron has a similar vision: Empower manufacturers to capitalize on the new service economy.
Syncron merged with Mize in 2021, Kartham describes how this integration allowed his vision to be truly realized.
“Manufacturers are now focusing on offering their products as a service, whether it is equipment as a service or within automotive mobility. In order for that to be achieved, there are a lot of pieces that need to come together on the service side.”
Syncron serves many of the same customers as Mize did, automotive, heavy equipment and industries with high value, durable goods that are complex. “We had a common vision on the service side but also had complementary products”, Kartham noted. Syncron is the leader in parts inventory optimization and parts pricing. Mize had products in the warranty, service contract and field service space and together, the vision of a connected service could be realized at a much faster rate, accelerating the scope of offering and “serving hundreds of major manufacturers on a global scale in terms of our combined vision of connected services.”
How is Syncron uniquely positioned to meet the needs of a developing service landscape?
“We have a combined portfolio of solutions that offer a smart, connected customer experience, second to none, which improve the way that the dealer network, suppliers and customers come together and increase value,” explained Kartham.
Syncron products solutions allow for ultimate value to be realized through its common platform, the Connected Service Experience platform, which brings together all the data from historically siloed areas. This means that the data can be analyzed, insights can be derived and new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence can be leveraged whilst unifying the user experience.
In terms of the future, consumers have been impacted by subscription models. Recurring revenue streams, as a model, is prevalent and it is something consumers are accustomed to. It is a direction Ashok believes manufacturers are being impacted by.
Manufacturers are generating more revenue from an existing customer base, reiterating the link between customer retention or loyalty and profitability, and achieving this through efficiency and technology. “I am excited that we are enabling and empowering manufacturers through this transformation,” said Kartham.
Ashok goes on to explain, “as a technology provider, these are a nexus of technologies. Not only web and mobile but also connected products like IoT, as well as AR which provides remote assistance. There is a confluence or a nexus of technologies which enables this transformation.”
Enabling the Dealer Network to optimize parts, service and warranty to drive service profitability.
Ashok will be speaking about the important role that the dealer network plays in optimizing the parts, service and warranty to increase overall profitability. Manufacturers rely on the distribution network and channel partners to deliver the best possible service. This means that the dealer network needs to be empowered with the right knowledge and parts. “Warranty costs depend on what decisions are being made by the technicians and the diagnostic and repair process. We want to share how these elements are all interconnected.” Customers want to reduce warranty costs, the question is, how do we improve performance and enable technicians through empowering the dealer network?
With the automotive space heavily influenced to go electric, or autonomous, how do we enable the dealer network and the OEMs to connect these pieces and deliver on, what is often, an impacted business model? Ashok stated, "A connected service technology plays an important part in the digital transformation journey, we are talking about enhancing the dealer network to optimize parts, price, service and warranty to drive service profitability.”
Ashok is the epitome of a thought leader. He has the ability to see things before they happen in the general sphere. See him live as he discusses the importance of the dealer network and the role OEMs play in equipping, through technology, each component of the ecosystem. Driving the sustainability of dealers and the manufacturers that build for them, at MAPconnected 2022.