TIMONIUM, Md. — Helion Automotive Technologies issued its Top 5 priorities for dealership IT departments in 2017. According to the company, allocating budgets to internet bandwidth, wireless signals, incoming call flow, security and regulatory compliance, and software licensing will result in strong, fast and secure IT backbones that will support new business and technology initiatives.

“Dealers often view IT as a cost of doing business, rather than as an investment that can help them become more competitive,” said Erik Nachbahr, president of Helion Automotive Technologies. “In this industry, time is money and an outdated IT infrastructure can result in downtime, lost revenue, reduced customer retention and loss of employee buy-in.”

The first priority, according to the company, is to address the dealership’s internet bandwidth. Dealers who are currently running a T1 internet connection through their dealership should consider switching to a fiber optic connection. Where T1 connections carry data at rates of around 1.5 Mbps, fiber optic connections can carry data at rates ranging from 100 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps.

The second priority should be improving the wireless signal found within a dealership. As OEMs and third-party companies push more and more technology onto the dealership, the average dealership with six to 10 high-speed wireless access nodes will need to increase their wireless capacity to a minimum of around 25 wireless access nodes per store, the company stated.

A dealer's third priority, according to the company, is to reduce the percentage of incoming phone leads that never connect with a dealership employee. Nachbahr puts the average at 30%. He recommends creating a new call flow designed to support dealer processes and, once established, not allow individual managers to make spontaneous changes.

The fourth priority is to avoid exposing customer records and the harsh financial consequences that could follow such event. Nachbahr recommends that dealers invest in cyber liability insurance. He adds that dealerships should also have established security policies in place.

Lastly, Nachbahr recommends that all dealers ensure that employees are not using unlicensed copies of software. Failing to enforce legitimate licenses for programs could yield huge fines against the dealership, he added. "One dealership I know of got caught using unlicensed copies of Microsoft Office on over 300 computers, and had to pay a fine of $1.5 million," Nachbahr said.

Originally posted on F&I and Showroom