One of the biggest trends of the IT world is the concept of “sBusiness,” or services which help dealers get the most from their systems.
This trend is driven by dealer needs in four areas:
The need for retailers to efficiently utilize their technology investments. The best tools are useless in untrained hands. As systems become increasingly complex, the goal is not to simply possess the tools but to recognize how to effectively employ them and to have processes that support their use.
Retailers must deal with the increasing dynamics and developments in the IT world as well as in the automotive industry. From a technological perspective, it is essential for retailers to stay ahead of the competition and to measure their progress and success. Best practices change constantly. Retailers need ways to find the best approach for reaching their maximum potential.
Managing IT environments today can be mind-boggling. Today's retailers have multiple servers and applications. There's increased usage of the Internet, Intranets and e-mail. It all should work seamlessly, even as the pieces frequently change.
A retailer's dependency on everything working all the time is absolute in today's business world. If “point of sale” or other key applications cease to run properly all of the time, a retailer is either out of business or paying for downtime. In the extreme scenario, retailers need to plan for IT catastrophies.
Due to sBusiness provided by leading IT companies, customer value and growth is expanding as services become increasingly valuable as a business solution.
Services include hardware installation, network design, provisioning and integration, and training and consulting to ensure the solution is utilized properly. Many IT companies provide maintenance and repair.
Some retailers, who and want to focus on their core operations rather than computer systems, are opting for partial or complete facilities management. That's where the administration of their system, network and entire IT environments are handled externally.
Leading IT companies also offer complete data, privacy and security services that are important from both a legal and data protection viewpoint. Other services specifically help retailers use their technology more effectively.
Services range from basic training to keep new and existing staff productive using specific applications, to ROI process improvement programs that make sure associates are not only trained on the application, but that the usage is driving business benefits for the company.
This reflects how sBusiness is being embraced in the automotive retailing industry. As retailers consider their business and IT strategies, services should be regarded as a viable resource that can provide them with a competitive advantage and better business results.
Ed Bolka is vice president of Reynolds and Reynolds' Info-Structure Services group.