In the discordant, skeptical, argumentative era we’re living in, two words are vital for any discussion: “according to.”

The truth is the truth when it comes to business information. Or maybe it isn’t. A trustworthy source is important.

Auto industry decision-makers are barraged by facts and near facts. They are preyed upon by assertions and ulterior motives, pulled by spin and pushed by parsing.

How can anybody make a sound decision?

Luckily, established data sets are available that provide the building blocks to help managers reach their decisions.

Auto executives are not known for blundering into misread market opportunities — at least not very often. They are counseled by economists, analysts and consultants who can see through the dust to the light ahead. But they, too, must scour the industry and the economy for reliable data.

Many data sets are established, tried and true. But newer ones are offering insight where it wasn’t possible before.

Dealership business systems are linked together so that market numbers and trends can be pulled out of the haystacks of monthly operations. Supply chain events can be analyzed for insight into global and regional warnings. Pricing can be collated and tracked. Consumer attitudes can be surveyed and processed into quantifiable indicators.

These are some of the bedrock data sets that drive decision-making with explanations of what they are and where they come from, how they are used and how they might be misused.

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