Microsoft Corp. sees growth opportunities in dealerships with plug-and-play software applications. Even though most of today's dealership management systems are based on older computer operating systems, Microsoft says it still can help dealers with its Windows-based software.
John Reed, Microsoft's new director of automotive retail solutions, spoke with Staff Reporter Ralph Kisiel about Microsoft's automotive retail strategy.
What is Microsoft's strategy in the dealership community?
We're in the process of resetting our strategy. It is really formed around two parallel efforts. The dealer management system -- the end-to-end plumbing -- that's one area. Another is providing dealers with new applications in sales, parts, service and business management to plug into their existing infrastructure.
Can Microsoft offer new software to dealers even if they are using a Reynolds or ADP dealer management system?
Yes, absolutely. For example, the Reynolds Contact Management application, which is their CRM (customer relationship management) offering, is actually a Windows-based application and runs on a Microsoft SQL Server.
With their core infrastructure, you can begin to add on components around it.
Microsoft has made investments in technologies that play well in a heterogeneous environment, so there are lots of opportunities to plug things in.
Microsoft worked with Reynolds on that company's now discontinued Reynolds Generations Series Suite dealer management system. Has Microsoft considered developing its own dealership management system?
Our interest with existing providers, as well as new ones, is to work with them in the market.
We will craft an approach led by partners.
What are some examples of plug-and-play applications you may offer?
On the sales and marketing side, we see a strong interest in lead management tools.
Internet collaboration is another area. Many dealers and manufacturers would like to expand the Internet experience during the sales process.
We've got a number of very interesting technologies.
So as you are looking at a vehicle or inquiring about the status of a repair, it would be possible to use a mobile device or your Internet chat capability on your PC to interact with the manufacturer or the dealer.
You may e-mail Ralph Kisiel at [email protected]