Much auto industry time is spent discussing emerging digital technologies and on which of those technologies dealers should focus.

This is an important discussion which, by dealer request, will capture considerable attention at our 2011 DrivingSales Executive Summit presented with WardsAuto (DSES). Topics at the conference include social media, mobile and accessory-sales technologies and data gathering and analytics.

But there is another area critical to the technology discussion that generally receives scant attention, in which dealers deciding the DSES agenda have raised their hands high on: How to EXECUTE on technology.

Using these platforms in the right way is at least as important as choosing the right technology in the first place. But for many dealerships, this is not top of mind. That’s why we plan to shine a bright light on the importance of execution at the DSES.

Executing on technology seems like a no-brainer, right?

But even though servicing-technology is where the secret sauce of their success lies, many dealerships tend to take a passive approach, particularly on foundational systems such as CRM and website platforms.

On the surface, a passive approach to CRM makes sense might make sense to a busy dealership. After all, these are expensive automated tools touted for their “turnkey” nature. So, why not just sit back and let them work, while you focus on selling?

The answer is these systems hold a treasure trove of un-mined information that can be used to proactively develop relationships through data-informed, nuanced communications that will improve customer loyalty, boost car sales and manage service appointments far more efficiently and cost-effectively than boilerplate templates sent on standardized timelines.

The same holds true of a dealership’s turnkey website platform – the platform itself is only the beginning. Ask yourself: Am I optimizing my website to create the customer behavior I need? Have I tied my keyword strategy into my website conversion optimization? Am I attaching ad material from my OEM to work with it?

Those are just a few of the questions dealers should be asking.

For full execution, processes need to be revamped, employees trained and managed and pay plans, in some cases, edited for a technology to take hold inside a dealership. At a minimum, the dealership needs to wrap its brand around the technology.

Remember, you have multiple options to execute – and learn to execute – on these technologies, either through outsourcing or, if you have the right structure and resources, by doing it in house.

Another option? Attend a process-driven industry event like the DrivingSales Executive Summit presented with WardsAuto.

That’s where dealers can learn the direction the market is moving, outline the most aggressive operational plan in the industry and learn to execute on the most advanced social-media strategies, web strategies and technologies – without getting a technology sales pitch.

However you do it, be sure to look at all your technologies and ask yourself: Am I servicing this technology in tune with what my customers are doing to increase traffic, upgrade conversion, generate more car sales and drive loyalty?

The dealerships that do this successfully will progress with greater profitability through 2012 and beyond – and raise the bar for the rest of the industry.

Want to hear more? Register for the DrivingSales Executive Summit present with WardsAuto at their website

Jared Hamilton is founder and CEO of DrivingSales.