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Brian Pasch

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ADP Cobalt Merger Showing Positive Energy

Cobalt ADP PartnershipThe Automotive Website Awards (AWA), presented by PCG Digital Marketing each year, recognize companies that provide outstanding technology platforms for the automotive industry.

The 160-page research paper that is associated with the awards provides guidance to car dealers who are considering a change to their automotive website. (Download a copy)

The review process has opened doors for PCG, allowing our review team the opportunity to see the latest design, technology, and future products from the leaders in this industry. I am blessed that I have met so many great people behind the companies that were included in this year's report.

Reviewing ADP and Cobalt Technology

As part of the review process this summer, I met with the Cobalt development team in Seattle as well as the ADP/BZ team via a webinar. Both companies impressed me with their future vision and upcoming technologies. I posted a blog about some of the major positive changes in the BZ Platform, which excited a number of BZ clients. Change was definitely coming to users of both platforms.

At the time we reviewed their upcoming platforms, I had no idea that at the end of this year the two companies would merge. I am sure that I was not alone in July 2010 as I speculated which technology platform would eventually “win” and how the two companies would operate.

Some in the industry commented to me that these two “big” companies would have a hard time sorting out their technology and integrating their employees. I started to speculate about the different cultures at ADP and Cobalt and how John Holt would integrate the development, sales, and marketing teams to create a future vision for the new company.

I asked John Holt this question directly at the Driving Sales Executive Summit in October 2010, in front of 500 industry leaders. At that time, John had little to share but he had tremendous confidence that the combination would yield significant benefits for ADP and Cobalt clients.

Visiting the ADP / Cobalt Team in Seattle

Fast-forward to 60 days later. I visited Seattle in December 2010 and met with the new website team which consisted of architects, engineers, social media specialists, search engine optimization strategists, and marketing leaders of the new company. The team was a combination of BZ and Cobalt employees.

Members of each team took time to share their roles and vision for the future technology platforms that they were working on. Through all the meetings one thing impressed me. There was tremendous positive energy that was coming from everyone that was in attendance. There were no hints of divisiveness and everyone was focus, attentive, and added to the conversation.

John Holt and his executive team have quickly united the best of each company and have crafted a powerful technology focus for the upcoming year. This should be great news for Cobalt and BZ customers as the company readies its new technology platform. How this new platform will be implemented for its customers was not shared but I was impressed with what I saw.

Some dealers have commented that ADP and Cobalt grew too large to listen to the needs of their installed user base, but the two companies have indeed been listening. They have responded from the feedback provided in the AWA review process and from their customers. Granted, it may have taken longer than dealers would have wished but the good news is that change is in the air.

The Energy Factor

ADP Cobalt EnergyThe new ADP/Cobalt company is not wasting time to produce a world-class product that includes the best in website architecture, design, SEO, automotive advertising, and social media integration.

The injection of 50+ new developers from the ADP merger will surely expedite the technology road map. Since I was not privy to rollout schedules or final production software I cannot say when the new platform will arrive, but don’t count these two players out.

Contrary to what some may believe, this merger has empowered these two companies. I go back to the “energy” factor I witnessed.

When the right teams of people get together with a unified goal, great things can happen.

I commend John Holt the leadership that has created this momentum in just five months. Now we all will have to sit back and see what comes out of the production funnel. The future looks so bright that they may have to give out sunglasses during the unveiling of their new platform. What are your thoughts?

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