Ford dealerships may need to meet detailed IT specifications if the automaker follows GM’s lead in issuing guidelines for various technology areas.

It’s likely the need for computer support for Ford dealerships in Alberta will climb if guidelines are put in place. That’s why many leaders are looking for Ford dealership computer networking, software, hardware and infrastructure partners like Rafiki Technologies Inc. to guide them through the assessment and solution deployment phases.

What Are the GM Dealership Guidelines?

GM issued detailed guidelines that require dealerships to meet at least the minimum requirements for IT system components. However, the automaker encourages its dealerships to deploy the highest level of recommended requirements to ensure operational efficiency, customer service and best practices.

The specifications cover the following areas:

  • Hardware (enterprise-grade computers are suggested) and software (for office productivity, web browsing, PDF reading, and antivirus protection)
  • Wired and wireless networks, including:
    • Data center location, IP addressing and cross-location networking
    • Authentication and encryption
    • Guest network access
    • Wireless area coverage
    • Bandwidth speed and backup
  • Security, including:
    • Firewalls
    • Content filtering
    • Network Segmentation
    • Virus monitoring
    • Patch management
    • Password protection
    • Data security
    • Business continuity and disaster recovery

The 19 pages of guidelines give dealerships some flexibility in choosing solutions based on their location and size but are highly specific regarding the standards, settings and protocols that should be used.

What Does This Mean For My Ford Dealership?

If Ford is the next automaker to issue such guidelines, dealerships would need to have a full technology assessment done. This assessment would use the Ford guidelines as a primer to determine what changes if any, a dealership would need to make to meet the various levels of compliance. The assessment would serve as a foundation for recommended changes and upgrades necessary.

What Should We Look For In an IT Company?

First, you should look at computer companies that know your industry. At Rafiki, we understand the unique challenges faced by auto dealerships, such as the need to serve different departments within the organization, from the service area to the sales staff to accounting and finance. Each of those areas has distinct requirements for software, connectivity, networking and collaboration.

Dealerships also need public-facing services, including websites fed by ever-changing inventory and pricing data and exceptional responsiveness to customer needs. All of these solutions need to be scalable to adapt as the dealership grows.

What Services Should a Computer Company Provide?

With a managed services provider as your partner, you can reduce your IT costs, save time and improve operational efficiency and security.

Many top Alberta computer companies like Rafiki offer managed services, where we take on portions of your technology for a predictable monthly price. By relying on the partner to maintain, monitor and upgrade your technology, you can focus your teams on core dealership work. Here are a few of the managed computer services Rafiki provides:

  • Customized IT assessments that identify unique challenges and opportunities for your dealership
  • Virtual CIO consulting and advisory services to keep you apprised of new technologies and system improvements
  • System simplification for your IT and point-of-sale systems
  • Network security, including firewalls, anti-virus software and continuous 24/7 system monitoring
  • Employee system training and troubleshooting
  • Data storage, backup, retrieval and disaster recovery using secure cloud solutions
  • Cloud hosting of industry-specific software, allowing users access from anywhere and any device
  • IT helpdesk support, both remotely and onsite
  • Hardware and software procurement, updating and vendor management

With a partner that offers a comprehensive IT solution, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your system and data are protected and monitored at all times.

How Can a Computer Company Help With Our Network Challenges?

Networks are one of the most complex technical issues facing auto dealerships today. There are competing demands for network access and different levels of security required for different types of information stored and sent via the networks. For example, systems need to connect employees working across different areas of the dealership or in a remote car lot.

Guests also want access to wireless networks while waiting for a salesperson, finance appointment or service.

In both cases, dealers may want to restrict access to certain websites or limit what can be done on a wireless connection (e.g., downloading large files on a public network).

At Rafiki, we understand the complexities associated with network management, which is why we focus on optimizing network configuration and performance.

How Can We Get Help With Software?

Dealerships need to manage multiple software products used for customer relations, inventory management, appointment scheduling, outside financing, accounting and digital marketing.

Those applications are on top of the every-day needs to keep employee productivity tools like Microsoft Office 365 functioning.

Rafiki works on the front end to make sure that software products are connected and functioning correctly. Our help desk services can solve many common hardware and software issues remotely and deploy needed system patches and upgrades. We’ll manage the vendor relationships for your dealership, coordinating renewals and warranty issues on your behalf. We also monitor systems, devices and users so that if there is unauthorized activity on your network, it’s contained and neutralized before any damage can be done.

Rafiki understands that Ford dealerships have unique technology needs and can develop the right solutions that keep your company running smoothly. To learn more about our auto dealership IT services, contact us today.

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