DealerTrack’s steady stream of products each year has had many wondering if a dealer management system would be the next step for the software and data solutions provider. A company executive said the obvious progression toward offering a DMS was only part of the reason for the company’s acquisition of DMS provider Akrona Inc., which was finalized on June 6.

“I would say the crescendo was reached in the fourth quarter when all this ‘data nonsense’ and ‘whose data is it anyway’ took center stage, and when the need to form OSA (Open Secure Access coalition) came about,” said Mark O’Neil, chairman and CEO of DealerTrack. “The industry was moving in the wrong direction, and this was a good opportunity to create an alternative that would meet the customers’ needs.”

Aside from data access, O’Neil said the acquisition — worth approximately $58.9 million — addresses two other frustrations he’s heard from dealers: the cost of existing DMS solutions (Akrona’s DMS is said to be a quarter of the cost of other DMS solutions) and the long-term contracts dealers must sign.

Akrona brings more than 800 dealers, who will now have access to DealerTrack’s complete suite of products, including F&I menu, desking, book-out, inventory-management, and compliance tools. When asked about how the company will address data access, O’Neil said DealerTrack may require the use of virtual private networks (VPN) to transmit data, but said the company can reasonably address data access and security so it does not hamper a dealer’s ability to take advantage of other technologies in the marketplace.

In the short term, O’Neil said the company will begin discussing in the third quarter how it will integrate its F&I products into Akrona’s DMS. The long-term goal is to integrate other DealerTrack technologies, whether it’s the capabilities of its ALG pricing, offerings from Chrome, or its new relationship with Manheim on the inventory side.

“At this point, there’s no reason to create anything new,” O’Neil said. “With the foundation Akrona’s DMS provides, plus the breadth of products DealerTrack has today and has in development for next year, we’ll make this the most high-value, low-cost technology solution available to dealers.”