When paving your career path, it’s important to find something you love that doesn’t feel like work. Living in Detroit, also known as “Motor City,” long-time industry veteran of the automotive space, Keith “KT” Tomatore fully embodies this sentiment as Perficient’s Global Automotive Lead.
KT is a transformational automotive leader who propels global companies toward new heights through digital solutions that deliver hypergrowth and minimize disruption. Beyond his success and devotion in leading the automotive practice, he’s driven by learning something new within every interaction while epitomizing his “one team, one mission” mindset.
Below is a look into KT’s commitment to the automotive industry, where the industry is heading, why he’s excited about his role as a mentor and leader at Perficient, and how he rallies the team together to make a lifelong impact on clients, colleagues and communities.
Describe your current role. What does a day in the life look like?
As the Global Automotive Lead, I work with colleagues around the world. My day is usually packed with meetings, and these can start early and go late to accommodate different time zones. Part of my day is dedicated to thought leadership like writing blogs, making videos, keeping an eye on what’s happening in the industry, and working to have a unique point of view as to where it’s going. My goal is to provide content and solutions that leaders in automotive companies find valuable and relevant in their efforts to succeed in the automotive space.
The other part of my day is helping colleagues with pursuits in automotive. This part can include attending calls, participating in strategy sessions, or working on presentations and content. I’m proud of the work we do to provide information to the automotive community, which is full of interesting and passionate people.
READ MORE: Perficient’s Automotive Strategic Positions
What makes you so passionate about automotive?
I am genuinely interested in the automotive industry, but my father-in-law was a high-level executive of a leading automotive company, and that made me even more interested. Plus, I’m a history buff, so I know when the first vehicle was created, and all the history tied to it.
Perficient Research Reveals Flaws in the EV Customer Journey
We surveyed more than 1,000 EV and non-EV owners to learn about their car-buying preferences. The results showed issues with the current buyer journey that OEMs need to address to accelerate EV sales.
Beyond that, this is a very special time in automotive. For example, the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is major; the technology is completely changing. Automotive manufacturers have essentially transformed into technology and software companies. It’s no longer just autonomous driving; it’s also cruise control, adaptive breaking, and other little technology elements that continue speeding up development.
This period presents a lot of excitement. One automotive job leads to 13 more. The industry is wide open, and there are a lot of great conversations and opportunities that affect the entire infrastructure.
Why are you excited about the future of automotive?
If you wanted to personalize your car when I was a kid, you got fuzzy dice or stickers to put on your bumper. Now, you can personalize through subscriptions, “infotainment” and entertainment, and apps on your vehicle display. There are so many options now when it comes to driving, and technology is making the industry so different and fun.
In San Francisco and Seattle, they introduced autonomous Ubers and Lyfts. You order as usual, unlock it, and it takes you to your destination without a driver. This evolution is only just beginning. Currently, there’s only six percent penetration in the U.S. market – imagine what it’ll be at 20 or 30 percent.
What inspired Perficient’s recent EV Research study? What are you hoping to accomplish?
When talking to OEMs, we realized there’s no clear customer journey for EVs. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and we wanted to provide clarity to help OEMs better understand what the customer journey currently is and what it should look like, as well as help customers communicate what they need from automotive companies. We’re presenting our findings to showcase how an improved understanding of customers can accelerate EV sales.
What shifts have we seen in consumer expectations, and what changes should dealers and OEMs consider making based on our data?
We’ve seen a big shift. According to our study, 95% of all car buyers reported doing at least some research before ever visiting a dealer or showroom. Interestingly, EV buyers are less likely to research extensively than traditional car buyers, and this may be tied to the sales process being less focused on high-pressure sales and more on education and consultation. These aggressive in-person sales tactics drive customers online.
A lot of automotive shoppers are also millennials, and they’re used to doing everything on computers. They don’t want to walk into a dealership and be approached with a hard sell. One change that needs to happen is related to people wanting to shop online. True personalization is a priority for OEMs to provide customers with a more consumer-centric experience.
This example shows the impact consumers have on the industry, and the good news is, Perficient is bringing OEMs closer to their consumers. Rather than only focusing on building and selling vehicles, OEMs and dealers both want a closer relationship with consumers to provide lifelong value. It’s a process of shopping, buying, owning and loving, and that’s lifetime value.
How does your saying “one team, one mission” come into play in your role and in the EV study?
This is something I call a “KT slogan” that I got when I was 22 years old. It really comes down to my idea of a team and only having two possible outcomes – a team win or loss. We learn from both, and what we do going forward is what really counts. I sign off every email with “one team, one mission,” and it’s something I truly believe and live by.
This mentality played a big role when conducting our EV study. We brought in experts from many different departments – from automotive and manufacturing to digital marketing and more – and we worked together as a team for a year. People are busy, that’s life, but this mindset kept us locking our arms throughout the year and held significant weight.
What are some of your proudest professional moments?
In my career, there’s the business side and the people side. On the business side, it’s making a lasting impact. On the people side, it’s being a mentor and leader. I had a mentor when I was 22, and he changed my life. I learned leadership can come from anyone and any job title. I truly care about the people around me, being a leader, helping colleagues, and making sure we collectively have that “one team, one mission” mindset. Our team’s dedication to this, our integrity, honesty, and transparency has really made us stand out.
How do you make a difference?
To put it briefly, we believe. Our team works together to identify a goal, create messaging, and develop a plan of action on something that may seem far-fetched, but we know how to successfully execute. There wasn’t an automotive practice when I joined Perficient, but I’ve helped build it to what it is today. I strive to create a practice that makes sense, continues to evolve, adds value, creates jobs, and embodies well-being for colleagues and clients. That’s what we do, and we do it with the highest integrity and honor.
This isn’t about me, it’s about a group of people that are so dedicated, inspired, smart, and are making things happen.
Why are you Proudly Perficient?
Our leadership is exceptional. They drive hard, but they’re great people who really care about our colleagues. Across the board, our colleagues are extremely smart and some of the nicest people. We have so many men and women who want to change the world, and I get to work with them every day. Our clients are wonderful. In automotive specifically, we have a plethora of long-standing clients, and you don’t get to do that if you’re not bringing value, so it’s a great honor.
I’m here to serve our clients, colleagues, management, and community. That’s what we want to do, that’s what we are doing, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do while having fun. Everyone has an impact, but it really starts with leaders like Jeff Davis and Tom Hogan setting the tone with kindness, exceptionality, and excellence.
It’s no secret our success is because of our people. No matter the technology or time zone, our colleagues are committed to delivering innovative, end-to-end digital solutions for the world’s biggest brands, and we bring a collaborative spirit to every interaction. We’re always seeking the best and brightest to work with us. Join our team and experience a culture that challenges, champions, and celebrates our people.