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Recently, thousands of dealerships were surveyed and scanned regarding their use of basic PC office software and technology. In a survey done by Microsoft Cloud Services, information was collected on how many PCs/laptops were at a dealership and what operating system and software was installed. In addition, dealers were surveyed on the number of unique e-mail addresses and how those addresses are being utilized.
The results aren’t pretty. This will give you the opportunity to see where your dealership fits in.
Dealerships, on average, have 80 PCs with 100 e-mail addresses, along with a variety of other devices (cell phones, tablets, etc.). The software on the PCs had, for the most part, been neglected.
Operating System (OS):
• The majority of the stores had more than 90 percent of the Windows PCs running Windows XP. Unfortunately, XP is more than 12 years old. Microsoft stopped selling and licensing Windows XP in 2008. For now, Microsoft offers some limited support; next year, however, all support for Windows XP — including security and updates — will be terminated. Oh, and of the Windows XP PCs, more than half were running "Home Edition" versions of the operating system, which is less secure and is not legitimate for use in a business setting.
• More than 70 percent of dealerships that had Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, etc.) installed on the desktop PCs were running Office 2003. A quick glance at a calendar will tell that’s now 10 years old. Not to mention that almost half of those were unlicensed versions of Office.
• Anti-virus software was generally ineffective or surprisingly overlooked, as nearly every dealership PC scanned had a virus, multiple spyware programs and toolbars.
• Many of the dealership personnel are using Gmail as their professional e-mail addresses when communicating with customers — essentially forwarding their business e-mail to a Gmail address and communicating with customers with a non-branded address (i.e. salesguy@Gmail.com). Gmail is free for individuals, easy to use and pretty compatible with all devices. But, if your staff is using a Gmail address to represent your store, the employee owns the data in the e-mails. Your store is disconnected from all communication and, when the employee leaves your store, they retain the relationship with your customer.
This begged the question, "Why do dealers have these issues?" Why would dealers let such an important business tool become outdated? Two words: cost and convenience.
Let’s take a look at costs: To go out and purchase the software required for each PC to be updated, current and licensed, we’re talking more than $30,000. Quite an amount, until you realize how important it is for your business to have current, competent and functioning tools. This would provide you with today's most secure and fastest version of Windows ever, the most current suite of Office software, and current and competent virus protection. Unfortunately, this doesn’t fix your e-mail. Letting a search engine/ad company run your business e-mail is not best for your business. Moreover, there are discussions out right now about the liability on the dealer when customer information is shared in personal e-mail. To fix this problem, you need to implement a viable corporate solution that is easy to use, inexpensive and compliant with privacy laws.
As for convenience, as you can imagine, updating all those computers is not a simple task. Someone then needs to monitor software updates and purchase and install updates as necessary. This is easily overlooked and why dealerships are currently so outdated.
Fortunately, there’s a better solution that can provide all this and more. Microsoft now offers “software as a service” (SAAS). Rather than buy the software and have to update it, the software is now available as a subscription.
Costs: Rather than spending more than $30,000, a dealership could have all this and more for around $1,000 a month.
Convenience: All software is constantly and automatically updated.
This would bring all computers up to Windows 7 or 8, and would include a full anti-virus, anti-malware and Windows update solution. When Windows 9 comes out, it would automatically be available at no extra charge. You could update the computers to Office 365, which includes Office 2013 and Microsoft Exchange in the cloud. With Exchange, the dealer owns the e-mail and data, and can add or disable a remote device anytime. Also, Exchange works on all devices and allows staff to sync e-mails and calendars. What's more, you’d get dedicated staff to handle every I.T. need and manage your store from the cloud. Passwords can be reset, printers added and software installed at no charge.
SAAS is being embraced by large businesses — Toyota just updated its 200,000+ worldwide employees to this.
Outdated software means that you’re not getting the most from computers. Slow, virus-laden PCs zap everyone’s productivity. Update your operating system — XP is going away. Update your software — Office is now 2013, and anything less is an old program with fewer features and security. Keep your virus protection current and complete. And, finally, own your e-mails. Consider SAAS for controlling cost and maximizing convenience. Hey, certain items in you dealership can be left unattended to, but software isn’t one of them. SAAS allows you to mind your business knowing that the technology running it is always up to date.