Helion Automotive Technologies, a leading provider of information technology (IT) solutions for dealers, announced the top technology priorities for dealerships in 2017. As dealerships plan to improve operational efficiencies, allocating budgets to these five areas will result in strong, fast and secure IT backbones that will support new business and technology initiatives.
“Dealers often view IT as a cost of doing business, rather than as an investment that can help them become more competitive,” said Erik Nachbahr, President of Helion Automotive Technologies. “In this industry time is money and an outdated IT infrastructure can result in downtime, lost revenue, reduced customer retention and loss of employee buy-in.”
Helion’s top IT priorities for auto dealers in 2017 are:
1) Internet Bandwidth
Until recently a Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) T1 Internet connection may have been sufficient for the average dealership. Not any more. Today’s cloud-based, third-party and OEM applications require greater data throughput than a T1 can handle. Dealerships that haven’t already upgraded to a fiber optics connection, may want to seriously consider this option.
A T1 connection carries data at a rate of 1.544 Mbps. A fiber optics connection carries data at rates ranging from 100 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps). Fiber optics is the future of Internet connectivity, so why wait? Nothing kills productivity and employee morale like slow Internet.
This is a huge area of frustration for many dealers, as they discover their dealerships don’t have nearly enough wireless for today’s mobile tablet and software applications, especially in the service department.
As OEMs and third-party application developers push location-based technologies and programs, the average dealership with six to ten high-speed wireless access nodes will need to increase their wireless capacity by three to five times, to a minimum of 25 wireless access nodes per store.
3) Incoming Call Flow
Up to 30 percent of incoming phone leads never connect with an employee who can help them. This has nothing to do with people and processes, and everything to do with call flow. A phone system’s call flow defines rules such as how many times an extension rings, whether the caller goes to voice mail or back to the receptionist.
“Dealers are losing a crazy amount of leads due to something they probably don’t think much about,” said Nachbahr. His recommendations include creating a new call flow designed to support dealer processes and, once established, not allowing individual managers to make spontaneous changes.
4) Security and Regulatory Compliance
Security breaches have become frighteningly commonplace. In the last year 75 percent of businesses with fewer than 500 employees reported a security breach, according to a July 2016 report titled IT Security at Small to Mid-Size Businesses (SMBs): 2016 Benchmark Survey. If customer records are exposed, associated fines and lawsuits can add up to millions of dollars per incident.
To avoid harsh financial consequences, Nachbahr’s top recommendation for dealers is to get cyber liability insurance. Additionally, dealerships should have established security policies in place.
5) Software Licensing
An estimated 45 percent of auto dealerships have been audited by Microsoft in the last two years. Additionally, Microsoft has issued warnings that 100 percent of businesses should expect a software audit at least once every four years.
Dealerships not in compliance with licensing laws are being slapped with huge fines from the Business Software Alliance, Microsoft and other software vendors. Violations most commonly occur with unlicensed copies of Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat and antivirus programs.
“One dealership I know of got caught using unlicensed copies of Microsoft Office on over 300 computers, and had to pay a fine of $1.5 million,” said Nachbahr. “This is something that dealers cannot afford to mess around with.”
To avoid fines Nachbahr says dealers need to ensure that employees are not using unlicensed copies of software. If the cost of Office 2016 is prohibitive, try Microsoft Office 365 Business, a cloud-based subscription program. Just be sure that Internet and WiFi connections can support the increased data throughput that cloud-based applications require.
For more information contact Helion at 443-541-1500 or visit www.heliontechnologies.com.
About Helion Automotive Technologies
Helion Automotive Technologies is a leading IT solutions provider, providing auto dealers with faster, more efficient networks and secure data protection. From managed services to IT assistance and service desk help, Helion offers both short-term IT fixes and long-term planning so dealers can focus on what matters most: selling more cars. Helion has specialized in IT for more than ten years and works with 650+ auto dealers nationwide. Dealers can request a free assessment of their IT needs at www.heliontechnologies.com.