Wayne Williams, pres-ident of Williams Auto World in Lansing, MI, thinks DCS systems of the future will be Internet-based rather than satellite-based. As 1999 chairman of NADA's Information Technology Committee and holder of seven automobile franchises (VW, Subaru, Isuzu, Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Audi), Mr. Williams welcomes such new directions in factory communications technology.
"With seven franchises, I have to maintain a separate communications system for every manufacturer," he says. "There's really no reason why a dealer should not be able to communicate with multiple manufacturers using a single system. The cost to the dealer -- and eventually to the consumer-of all this equipment is really just mind-boggling."
But we may soon see the Internet come to the rescue, says Mr. Williams, who points out that Saab's IRIS and Mercedes' NetStar systems are both Internet-based. If all car makers adopted Internet technology for communicating with dealers, then a single PC would serve all the dealership's factory communications needs, he says. And the new technology, Mr. Williams asserts, has caught the attention of the car retailing information management systems providers.
"I think Internet-based systems have become a source of concern for the big DSP vendors, such as ADP and Reynolds," Mr. Williams observes, "because they see a potential threat to an important segment of their business. Nothing brings about change more rapidly than a threat to one's business.
"But I think both the DSPs and the auto manufacturers are becoming more open-minded in terms of their willingness to accept a single system that accommodates all dealers. It would help dealers cut their operating costs and make it simpler for every dealer to communicate with the factories. So establishing communications standards for factory communications remains the top priority of our committee."
Priority number two, says Mr. Williams, is staying focused on creating a plan of action for resolving the DCS and other IT issues.
"I'm not a propeller head," he says with a grin. "And I don't use that term scornfully. My strength as a committee member - and, I suppose, the main reason I was invited to be chairman - is that I have some skill in formulating ideas and getting people to listen.
"We really need to work together - dealers, DSPs, and car manufacturers - to get IT issues on the table for discussion, and then to get them resolved. The committee needs to get a couple of small victories under our belts before we can expect to gain major ones. If we can get a couple of small victories by next February, I'll be very pleased."
Automatic Data Processing (ADP Dealer Services)
AFS Information Systems
Dealer Solutions (now part of ADP)
DPC Systems, Inc.
Dubuque Data Services
Electronic Data Service (EDS)
Jarvis Computer Software
PBS Systems (Canada)
Reynolds & Reynolds
Universal Computer Systems (UCS)
Chairman: Wayne Williams, Williams Auto World, Lansing, MI-VW, Subaru, Isuzu, Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Audi
Carl L. Barnett, Sr., president, Gulf Freeway Pontiac-GMC, Houston, TX
Mike Dolan, chief information officer, CARMAX, Glen Allen, VA
Pete Eversole, president, Eversole Motors, LaCrosse, WI-Chrysler-Plymouth, Dodge, Jeep
Thomas R. Keery, II, president, Frost Motors, Newton, MA-Cadillac, Nissan
Jon Lancaster, president, Jon Lancaster, Inc., Madison, WI-Chevrolet, Toyota, Nissan, Lexus, Car America (used car brand)
Wes Lutz, president, Extreme Dodge, Jackson, MI
Richard L. Morrison, president, Eero Volkswagen of Anchorage, Anchorage, AK-also Saturn, Audi, Isuzu, Porsche
H. Carter Myers, president, Colonial Auto Center, Charlottesville, VA-Pontiac, Cadillac, Buick, GMC, Nissan, Suzuki, Mitsubishi, Lincoln-Mercury
Mark Rush, GM, Ron Rush Lincoln-Mercury, Columbus, OH
Ben Scafidi, president, Dick Strauss Ford-Isuzu-Suzuki, Inc., Richmond, VA
Charley R. Smith, chairman, Watson Truck & Supply, Inc., Hobbs, NM-Buick, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Navistar Trucks
Alan Starling, president, Starling Chevrolet, Kissimmee, FL-also Pontiac, GMC
Brad Willingham, president, Boulevard Buick, Long Beach, CA-also Pontiac, GMC, Chrysler-Plymouth, Jeep