Paul Sykes Managing Director, Audatex UK

It’s been a little over 12 months since we last gleaned an insight into Audatex UK (December 2013 issue) and, without doubt, much has, and continues to change both industry-wide and for the business itself. Here, Paul Sykes, managing director of Audatex UK reveals just what to expect for 2015 and beyond.

What has the past year looked like for the business?

Quite simply, we listened to our customers and made a declaration at the tail end of 2013 that we would not continue to pursue a portfolio of mandated products within the UK market. Our aim was to deliver value propositions to bodyshops that are free to choose, and with products such as AudaMobile, AudaVIN+ and AudaLite we have been very successful in achieving that.

Our goal is to assist in eradicating the many inefficiencies that have hindered the whole claims, and more specifically repair, process by streamlining it and providing a central platform of information.

AudaMobile has been a very successful development for us and
already has been updated with new functionality and features to allow users to create an assessment from scratch and edit authorised assessments, on their iPad, without having to be within AudaEnterpriseGold.

AudaVIN+ has, by default, now become a bit of an ‘industry standard’ amongst those who use it. What it does offer is a streamlined process in accurate parts identification, ordering and therefore overall efficiencies and cycle times.

AudaLite is being used by bodyshops, as well as dealers and more diverse operations such as rental companies and auction houses, to manage the costs on smaller jobs and present a professional image for customers.

Mobility, accuracy and return on investment are the key factors with all our recent product developments.

You refer to ‘mobility’ and the importance you, as a business, place on it. Just how critical is it to our industry?

Mobility is certainly the theme for us as a technology company and we strongly believe mobile platforms should be dominant. Whether it be estimating, management or claims systems, they should be accessible and functional ‘on the move’ – other industries are ahead of us in that essence at present. The idea of AudaMobile and AudaLite is that they put mobility at the heart of bodyshop capabilities and enter a new phase of business.

Effectively, we are in a technology industry and I, along with many others, would like to see the sector transition towards fullmobility capabilities in the near future. The more of these types of mobile solutions we see becoming available, the more the value proposition becomes evident and, ultimately, the quicker the adoption will become widespread – a win-win for all.

What is the focus for Audatex currently?

Our commitment to our customers is to deliver solutions they want and need, and remains at the heart of what we do; we will continue to listen to our customers and invest in developing solutions to meet their everyday needs and improve the claims process.

Having spent the first six years of my working career at Audatex working side-by-side with bodyshops, I am passionate about the sector and continuously improving its image. I certainly believe we have made great progress with that in recent times and our future plans will, we hope, cement that philosophy. We want people to work with, and for, us to create industry-wide solutions that will benefit all stakeholders.

So, along with a keen eye on continuing to promote the value of mobility; parts, salvage and AudaConnect are the major areas of attention in the coming months.

Tell us a little more about AudaConnect?

AudaConnect is a major development for us. The overriding strategy is to place something within the industry to link all stakeholders within the claims process and start to remove the inefficiencies that currently exist.

The platform will become an interface for all our business – AudaGarage, Audatex, HPI, Valexa and CarweB – and other systems within the UK to allow information to flow in order to streamline the overall claims process. The AudaConnect platform will embed within bodyshop management systems, who have welcomed the opportunity, in order to begin a gradual transition of automation within the industry – it’s the creation of a one-stop shop process.

A suite of application programming interfaces (API) have been developed to enable credit hire organisations, distributors, parts suppliers, rental companies, salvage operators, valuation data, vehicle manufacturers and others access to the system data and develop their own propositions to suit.

AudaConnect will provide a view of our world, we are basically opening our doors and welcoming people in, in order to create beneficial, joined-up market solutions.

You mentioned parts and salvage. Please tell us a little more about these plans.

We have created a solution to support parts procurement with a pilot going live this month (January). Through our strong links with both the vehicle manufacturers and suppliers of non-original equipment (OE) parts and our Pinnacle Pro dismantlers, we believe our system will help in supplying the right parts, at the right price, more accurately and quicker than ever before.

The platform will act as a decision based solution taking into account numerous data fields, offering a national proposition and operating on ‘real time’ information to enhance all round efficiencies. This is about removing cost, friction and inviting people ‘in’ to develop solutions to assist the repair community.

We are currently in the process of finalising a three part strategy regarding salvage, the aim of which is for us to support a fundamental revision of the salvage process in the UK. We believe there is great potential to improve the management and handling of salvage and our aim is to embed the process within our decision support package. Our desire is to facilitate the correct decision making process relating to salvage cases and ensure disposal of in the most efficient and financially beneficial way. With that, we then have the opportunity to re-populate salvageable parts back into the parts procurement system. We firmly believe, such a pro-active environment will open up many opportunities for bodyshops and benefit all parties.

What other areas of ‘automotive’ are we likely to see more involvement in from Audatex?

Quite simply, no other source is able to provide as much information and data about a vehicle simply from its registration plate. Our suite of technology products spans, almost, the entire spectrum of vehicle life and this is where the real value of AudaConnect becomes evident. Our job is to harness the synergies between our business divisions to create the greatest value proposition possible.

The customer journey will be key to future claims processing and this is where our other UK business such as HPI, CarWeB, Hollander and Valexa will combine data sources in order to deliver market leading and unique solutions across the vehicle lifecycle.

We are working to ensure we are positioned to aggregate and correctly apply claims data from all sources, including eCall and other telematics systems. A manual first notification of loss (FNOL) could become a thing of the past, as an industry we may soon be pro-actively handling the claim from the moment a vehicle signals damage – that is where the future challenge lies.

What else can we expect in the near future?

As a business, we have evolved greatly over recent years. With a declining claims market since 2006, we recognise that our central position within the market, combined with our technology developments, is our key differentiator. We are now positioned to influence positive change within the industry by increasing automation to ensure processes happen more accurately, with increased efficiencies and at a quicker pace. We are in the privileged position to have global support and knowledge, yet the business acumen to apply it locally to support the market.

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