Month: February 2010

Cloud Telephony

Now that we are staffing up for PEN, the HR department has asked me which city to recruit in.  It’s hard to have an opinion about this.  I am based in South Florida, the developers are in Chicago, and I expect the Sales and Training staff to be on the road.  The real answer is – wherever you find the talent.

When I did this job for MenuVantage I was physically in the office, but on the phone all day.  The sysop job requires no physical presence – Lynn McLennan was doing it from Europe.

Most of the work in advanced economies will be done by networks of itinerants, who gather from hither and thither, do their thing, and disband. — Tom Peters

Tom Peters, in The Tom Peters Seminar, writes that eventually all workers – or at least all “knowledge workers” – will be free agents working out of their homes. Sprint has already turfed 15,000 workers out of its offices.  This creates a new opportunity for cloud telephony.

Let’s say that I recruit one of my old pals, already a remote worker for MenuVantage.  We will have to disconnect his AltigenVoIP phone from their on-premise PBX, and then ship him a Packet8 phone for ours.  If we were all connected to the same multi-tenant virtual PBX, though, changing jobs would mean simply changing his profile online.

Greetings from NADA

We made a good showing at NADA.  I met with every F&I provider, and now have a long list of contacts to follow up.  Most are already using PEN, and they were excited to learn that ADP and Reynolds will soon join the network.  To those who could not attend, I will send materials today.  Here is that link again for the press release, and here is the fact sheet.  Anyone I missed, please feel free to contact me directly.

See You at NADA

I am heading up to Orlando to represent Provider Exchange Network.  PEN will soon have direct integration with ADP Drive, ERA, and POWER – in addition to the dealers already using PEN through MenuVantage.  I have spoken with a number of F&I providers, and all agree this is an exciting prospect for the industry.

To learn more about PEN, please contact me.  Click here for the press release. I will be splitting my time between the Reynolds booth and the ADP booth.  You can also check out a brilliant demonstration of web rating and e-contracting by MenuVantage.

Ford Credit Steps Up

My first management job was CIO for the startup BMW Finance.  This was an education in why auto makers need captive finance.  I fondly recall Vic Doolan wrapping himself in the Bavarian flag (figuratively) and demanding we raise our residuals on the X5.

Captive finance converts the ups and downs of auto retail into a steady stream of finance payments.  This creates the illusion that the finance arm is somehow a better business, and managers lose sight of the special relationship.  The finance arm also develops a better-looking balance sheet.  Without proper discipline, the finance arm will wander off and start writing mortgages.  Meanwhile, the parent company turns to deals with banks.  Sound familiar?

This is the background against which I observed the recent travails of GMAC.  I had the privilege of working at GMAC in autumn 2008, when things started to go bad.

“The stability that Ford Credit has provided us through this turn has been huge,” said dealer Skip Davenport “It’s so important for the manufacturer to have a captive finance arm.”

Ford Credit, by contrast, stepped into the breach and did exactly what a captive lender should do. They supported their dealers, of course, with wholesale and retail finance – but they did some non-obvious things, too.  They provided consulting support, to help dealers review their finances, and they helped with advertising.  They also pulled back on lending for non-Ford vehicles.

Ford dealers observed that financing brought in customers new to the brand, which means new customers – and potentially repeat customers – for both entities.  Now, that’s teamwork.