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Keith Latman Creates CRM Think Tank Sessions at iMagicLab

Keith Latman and His iMagicLab Team Create Customer Relationship Management (CRM) "Think Tank" By Assembling Auto Industry Thought Leaders, Innovative Dealers, Experienced Development Team Catalysts and Extensive Resources to Craft the Future of Automotive CRM...


On Thursday June 13, 2013 in the early afternoon Sean V. Bradley and I left the DealerSynergy offices in Audubon, NJ and drove down to Baltimore to participate in an iMagicLab hosted event and meeting.  Sean and I had both received invitations without knowing about the other. I had been at DealerSynergy to record video clips for training sessions within the soon to be launched Automotive Digital Training Channel. Before anyone accuses Keith Latman of grandiose concepts, I will unashamedly describe what emerged at iMagicLab on Friday as a "CRM Think Tank" session...


The attendees were an impressive mix of advanced CRM "Success Story" car dealers, consultants, thought leaders and experienced CRM developers that had previously worked for iMagicLab competitors. Sean V. Bradley and i rarely get excited about the same things when it comes to dealer management software and applications, but in today's case we both saw Keith open the doors to a barn with an "I'll be damned if that ain't an actual Unicorn in there" look on our faces as what iMagicLab has created with their upcoming launch of CRMsuite revealed itself to our harshly critical inspection...

The founder of iMagicLab, Keith Latman and I have some colorful.. ahem, "history" going back a few years. When I spoke to him about it, he told me that knowing i would be closely looking for "flies in the ointment" is one of the reasons why he invited me... Wanted to get some seriously non-ass-kissing feedback from someone who knows CRM app development who would poke and jab at what he is getting ready to launch...

The reality of what happened during the iMagicLab CRM Think Tank discussions was that Joe Webb took enough carefully aimed shots at Keith Latman's assumptions and dealership work flows that I was able to focus my questions on identifying many of the incredible number of data sources, algorithms, and (for real) artificial intelligence capabilities feeding a series of dynamic real time action items to be executed by dealership employees. All of which is being served up in a modular GUI that will most certainly replace the overwhelming frustration created by typical (and dreaded) "Daily Work Plans", which define each user's core list of daily action items, and is generated by most of today's current crop of CRM systems...
I almost HATE to admit it, but Keith Latman and Chris Vitale got me more excited and eager to test drive the soon to be in limited release iMagicLab "CRMsuite" than I have been about any other CRM application in over ten years... At this point, getting me excited about the technical architecture of a CRM solution is nearly impossible, because our industry has been stuck in a CRM application rut for at least ten years!

What i saw on Friday was the iMagicLab team build out of a "CRMsuite" branded solution that delivers on Keith Latman's radical new big data driven approach and system design. Every aspect of CRMsuite has the potential (if it actually works as shown) to provide digitally competent dealership teams with customer engagement capabilities far beyond what any other auto industry CRM development team has ever attempted to do... I believe that the iMagicLab CRMsuite may be capable of enabling dealers to deploy a radical new approach to customer engagement and communication.

The core activity generating engine appears to be designed to predict a series of communications and customer contact most likely to result in a sale based on empirical analysis of the customer's information, activities and social signals. few observers may be willing to agree with me at this point, but i believe CRMsuite may trigger the equivalent of an arms race among automotive CRM developers and dealership suppliers.

The biggest caveat I sense are the questions around "can the iMagicLab team, led by Keith and his top managers sell, deliver, install and ramp dealers up on the CRMsuite at any significant levels of scale and dealer network penetration?"

I may be biased after 20 years of working on several CRM development, sales and implementation teams, but I see a lot of potential for dealer demand for CRMsuite to far exceed what the existing iMagicLab team has the ability to deliver and install... The limited sneak preview and deep architectural designs we saw at iMagicLab on Friday were THAT impressive!

Meet 3 Automotive Technology Professionals Leading the iMagicLab CRM Think Tank

Keith Latman | Chief Executive Officer


Tom Harsha | President of Auto Division


Chris Vitale | Vice President of Sales

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Tags: CRM, CRMsuite, DealerCRM, Keith Latman, Think Tank, Thought Leader, iMagicLab


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Comment by Ralph Paglia on June 29, 2013 at 12:23am
Tony Rehn's perspective is particularly interesting to me because his dealership managed to successfully implement Reynolds Contact Management CRM for several years. Now that he has switched to iMagicLabs DealerCRM and is planning to migrate to their next gen CRMsuite, Tony's experience with the powerful and robust CM system from Reynolds has made him much more aware of the opportunities for his dealership with Multi-relational data mining that incorporates customer purchase patterns. Contact Management may be one of the most brain hurting CRM systems in the car business, but it has remained the most deeply capable of all CRM systems available to dealers... Unfortunately, the vast majority of Reynolds CM dealers never use more than 10% to 25% of its powerful capabilities because of how difficult it is to configure and maintain. If the team at iMagicLab can build the app described to us by Keith Latman and team, while maintaining some level of User Interface (UI) ergonomics and application logic industry standards to speed up new user adoption, they will have succeeded in getting the car biz past the "dumb it down" fad that too many people call "simplification" that has swept the car biz over the past few years... Caused by the mind warping complexity of CRM app features such as "Results Based Schedules" in Reynolds CM. it is time for us to reject the dumbification of CRM systems being masqueraded as improvements by too many vendors. I have always been VERY wary of Keith Latman and his business practices, but I have also admired the deep capabilities of the apps he designs and builds which have traditionally provided features and functionality rarely, if at all, seen in other vendor apps. Those types of CRM innovations that we saw at this "Think Tank" product advisory board meeting are exactly what dealers need to create the differentiation that yields competitive advantage,
Comment by Tony Rehn on June 17, 2013 at 12:36pm
The "forced and friendly" mobile approach will increase usage. That is the key to increasing store batting averages. The enhanced desking and easy thought and custom to the mgr dashboard will keep your managers engaged... Dealer in, mgrs in, sales professionals in,
Everyone Wins !!!
Comment by Alexander Lau on June 17, 2013 at 12:11pm

Exactly, how many CRM developers take user-centered design / instructional design into their development process? A lot of them don't. Sounds like they are using logic (based upon performance) rather than subjectivity, which is smart.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on June 17, 2013 at 12:02pm

I agree with Joe Webb about waiting to see the new iMagicLab's CRMsuite installed in a real dealership and actually doing what it has apparently been designed to do by delivering a vasty improved "User Experience", meaning the average dealership employee being asked to use it! What is exciting is to see a company that has the chops to build and deliver a CRM system show us their very different and updated approach that is heavily based on their millions of CRM user actions logged on their servers, as well as the first major use of data from outside the dealership that has only recently become available.

Comment by Alexander Lau on June 17, 2013 at 6:08am

Great! It's about time, it's been my experience (having used four of them in the past -- based upon growing insatiability for BDC) most Automotive CRM's are poorly designed. Retailers buy into them based upon a need or rather want to save money. I'll not name names, but it would be easy to flick on a light and what them scramble.

Comment by George Santangelo on June 16, 2013 at 3:42pm

It would be great to see them present this at AutoCon 2013.

Comment by Joe Webb on June 16, 2013 at 8:04am

I wouldn't say that I took "carefully-aimed shots" so much as I had a host of features I believe ANY CRM needs to have (both in their current DealerCRM version as well as their upcoming - and separate CRM Suite).  I am STILL interested in seeing if they'll make those improvements many of us requested.  I simply had MORE requests than anyone else. 

And I am also VERY excited about seeing this technology in action.  I think they will have lightning in a bottle if the tech works the way they built it to.

Comment by Larry Bruce on June 16, 2013 at 5:37am

WOW back from the dead...Maybe. 

I have to admit when I see adjectives like "Big Data", "Algorithms","Dynamic", "Real Time" and  "Artificial Intelligence" my first thought is BS. 

Time will tell.   

Comment by Chuck Capps on June 15, 2013 at 9:45pm
I have always enjoyed Keith! He has always been an industry leader and a great guy to work with! "Please excuse the extended wait times as your calling during a company x-box tournament." Probably only Keith will understand that... i think i peed a little when i heard that! Congrats and with you thw best!
Comment by Curtice Spencer on June 15, 2013 at 9:45pm
To hear Ralph say he's seen the magical unicorn we ve all been waiting for is impressive especially knowing how critical he can be. Can't wait to see more.... any word if there will be a presentation on this at Autocon in September???

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