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What agribusiness can learn from the automotive industry

Industry leaders from sectors like technology, finance, and retail, are constantly on the hunt for advantages they can gain by adopting new technologies. It’s a strategy that isn’t new to agriculture, either. 

This is what made our Smartwyre Insights conversation with Pete Cimmet such an interesting one. 

Today, Pete serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for J.D. Power, focusing on accelerating the company’s growth in its targeted markets globally. However, his career spans various roles in corporate management, private equity, and investment banking. 

And Pete’s no stranger to agriculture. He worked at Arysta LifeScience, the global agrochemical and life science company, as the Global Head of Strategy and Business Development. That experience, combined with his extensive management and finance background, made him a great fit to serve on Smartwyre’s Board of Directors. 

Read our Q&A with Pete below, where he shares insights and wisdom from his time in the automotive industry that could be applied to agribusiness. 


Neal: You have worked in both the agricultural inputs industry (Arysta LifeScience) and now with J.D. Power in the automotive sector.  What parallels do you see between the two industries? 

Pete: Both industries are evolving quickly and using more data and software to make decisions.  Customers in both businesses are demanding more information and buying options online and manufacturers and distributors need more data to make decisions.  While both agriculture and automotive have lagged some other sectors in terms of technology historically, they are both catching up quickly. 

Neal: A keynote at the recent ARA Conference highlighted several key findings from new research out of Farm Journal and Aimpoint Research. One insight was that growers aren’t necessarily going online to purchase, but they’re going online to do more research. So, from a retailer’s standpoint, there’s this notion that they need to share more and better information online as it relates to their services and products. How have you seen this trend play out in the automotive industry? 

Pete: Auto is much the same way. Even if the consumer doesn’t complete the transaction online, they’ll research online before they go into a dealership. Consumers expect accurate information online that matches prices provided in the dealership. You’ve probably seen car ads that’ll say, “lease it for $330 a month.” You don’t want a consumer to go into a car dealership and find out it’s actually $400 a month. Nothing frustrates a customer more than the online experience not matching in-store.  As more purchasing journeys move online, the importance of data accuracy increases.  


Neal: In the automotive industry, how does data flow between the manufacturers and dealers to make that a positive experience for consumers? 

Pete: The manufacturer wants to have some visibility of how the dealer is performing and the dealer needs data from that manufacturer. At J.D. Power, we have a product called the Power Information Network (PIN), which gives manufacturers information about what’s going on at the consumer sales level.  Manufacturers then can use this data to better meet consumer needs by adjusting inventory destinations, how they configure cars with options, and creating the right incentive programs.  

These sorts of data tools allow manufacturers and dealers to work together to serve consumers in the best way possible.  


Neal: In data-rich environments, a key to good ‘data health’ is accuracy. What’s your experience working in the automotive industry as it relates to accurate data? 

Pete: Data accuracy is critical to every solution we’ve implemented at J.D. Power.  We have a number of foundational data sets – for example, used car values, residual value predictions, car configuration data, and inventory data.  We put a lot of effort into ensuring that each of these data sets, is as accurate as possible.  That way when we build products that incorporate these data sets they can provide the most accurate insights to the user.  



Pete Cimmet is Chief Strategy Officer at J.D. Power. Mr. Cimmet is responsible for corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and other strategic initiatives to accelerate the company’s growth in its targeted markets globally. Mr. Cimmet is a seasoned executive with experience in corporate management, private equity, and investment banking. Before joining J.D. Power, Mr. Cimmet was a Managing Director and Partner of Olympus Capital, an Asia-focused private equity fund. Before Olympus Capital, Mr. Cimmet was a member of the Executive Committee and the Global Head of Strategy and Business Development at Arysta LifeScience, an agrochemical and life sciences company with $1.9 billion in revenues. Prior to Arysta LifeScience, Mr. Cimmet spent 11 years in investment banking with Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns where he focused on the technology, media, and telecommunications sectors and executed over $50 billion of M&A transactions. Mr. Cimmet holds a BS in Business Administration from the Rochester Institute of Technology and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.