Why Dealers Shouldn’t Fear Cloud Computing
(This is the fourth in a series of articles on change in the used-car industry.)
Since this is a series about change, we would be remiss if we didn’t also mention the impact of cloud computing – which basically refers to the use of on-demand computing and data storage via the internet.
In the past, software installation and maintenance, as well as data storage, was largely handled at the dealership. That meant either a mainframe (very large and expensive) or a local server (susceptible to damage and power outages). If something went wrong, an IT specialist would have to physically go to the site to troubleshoot and fix the problem.
Over the past few years we’ve seen the rise of “the cloud,” which sounds vague and nebulous but again basically refers to a series of offsite servers that can be accessed via the internet from PCs, laptop computers, tablets and smartphones. Examples of cloud-based services include Dropbox, Flickr, Apple iCloud, Facebook, Netflix, Gmail and even Amazon.
Although the cloud is a wonderful, decentralized place to store photos, documents, videos and data, in the business world its most useful application is in software as a service, or SaaS. In this application, a third-party provider actually hosts the software, and users pay subscriber fees to access it either via a web browser or smartphone app. Examples of SaaS in business include Salesforce, GoToMeeting, Adobe, Google Apps, Dealertrack, vAuto and, of course, DealersLink.
Although SaaS can save dealerships a lot of time and money, we still encounter dealers who are reluctant to adopt it. Here are a few reasons why, as well as some counter-arguments.
Access – Since the software program or data isn’t onsite, some dealers fear loss of access to it. It’s true that a bad internet connection – or lack of access to the internet – limits the effectiveness of SaaS. However, internet service and speeds across the country are improving all the time, especially in places where there is competition. On our end, DealersLink has a 99.99 percent availability, meaning that your inventory and our marketplace and services are available online 24/7.
Security – It’s understandable that businesses owners who read about computer hackers stealing data would be reluctant to transition to SaaS. In fact, data security is stronger in the cloud than on a local server. Reputable cloud service providers have invested in the most sophisticated data-security technology available, including firewalls, intrusion protection and 24/7 monitoring. Additionally, cloud-based data is backed up continuously instead of having to be backed up manually.
Control – Perhaps too many science fiction novels and movies have scared us into thinking that automation takes away control from humans. Specifically, some people fear that a software glitch or programming error will corrupt their data or lock them out. Our message is: don’t fear. Our DealersLink development team is top-notch and tests our programs over and over again to meet high standards for operability. Users will still have the same access to their inventory data and can decide how and what to display and what actions to take.
Commitment – We know that a lot of contracts in the auto industry are long-term, locking you in with a vendor and making it slow and difficult to adapt to new technologies and consumer trends. Dealers might also fear overcommitting to a SaaS package when in reality they only need some of the functionality offered. Well, you don’t have to sign a long-term contract with DealersLink, which allows you to go back if you decide our solutions aren’t the right fit for your dealership.
SaaS offers many benefits for dealers. Here are some of the highlights:
– It’s less expensive and quicker to implement.
– It provides access to and instantly updates data anywhere at any time on any internet-connected device.
– It provides automatic updates to the latest versions, allowing for flexibility and adaptability to the latest technology and trends.
– It facilitates integration by allowing for easy communication and data transmission between different programs, so not everyone needs to be on the same type of device.
– It’s scalable, and can be added or removed quickly and easily depending on your needs.