Case Detail

Case Summary

CDK Digital Marketing: Addressing Channel Conflict with Data Analytics

Case Number: 5-314-504, Year Published: 2015

HBS Number: KEL894

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Key Concepts

Big Data, Channel Conflict, Conflict Management, Consumer Marketing, Data Analytics, Distribution Channels, E-Commerce, Information Management, Information Technology, Marketing


Four years into a five-year contract with General Motors to be the exclusive website vendor to its U.S. network of more than 4,000 dealers, CDK Digital faced a crucial contract renewal at the end of 2012. The case follows Melissa McCann, director of strategic marketing, and Chris Reed, CMO, as they prepared for a critical meeting in July 2011: a presentation to the customer relationship management (CRM) subcommittee of the Chevrolet dealer council. Although GM dealers, like all auto dealers in the United States, were independent franchisees, GM saw the renewal of CDK Digital’s exclusive contract as a collaborative decision between dealers and GM. According to Ed Vogt, GM’s executive in charge of the renewal, if the dealer councils said no, the contract would not be renewed.

This case challenges students to use CDK’s big data and analytics capabilities to address the inherent conflict between dealers and manufacturers: when marketing to potential customers, manufacturers wanted consistency across dealer websites to maximize sales of their targeted brands, while dealers wanted flexibility to sell what they had in inventory.

Learning Objectives

After analyzing the case, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate how big data and analytics can be used to solve channel conflict
  • Explain how franchisors and franchisees have different perspectives on the value of data on retail operations
  • Recognize benefits of big data and analytics beyond the obvious potential improvements to marketing and operational effectiveness
  • Articulate the value of data analytics for channel management
  • Appraise the benefits of real-time website customization

Number of Pages: 11

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Marketing, Technology

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: United States

Industry: Automotive

Organization Name: CDK Digital

Organization Department: Marketing

Organization Size: Medium

Decision Maker Position: Director of Strategic Marketing

Decision Maker Gender: Female

Year of Case: 2012