The implementation follows the success of a corporate portal rollout for 250,000 Ford employees, which was completed in the summer of 2001.
The DealerConnection portal, based on software from supplier Plumtree, provides Ford dealers with real-time access to information previously only available in a paper-based format, which often required up for five days to process and send out.
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The technology provides dealers with a single point of access to information on pricing, products, servicing, customer service and marketing, said Mark Kurring, company-to-dealer systems implementation supervisor at Ford.
“Instead of creating 18 different portals for the countries in which we operate, we have developed one pan-European portal with communities and applications for each respective country and line of business,” he said.
“By adopting this approach, we are empowering each country to create its own environment under the European umbrella of DealerConnection, even though we still have central control over our brand, image and communication.”
The portal, which combines existing data and processes from Ford’s IT systems with new shared services, is managed within one administrative framework at the corporate level, said Kurring.
Next week, Plumtree will introduce a new version of its portal and will outline a strategy designed to port its technologies across a wide set of applications and repositories.
The supplier is expected to position its Enterprise Web framework as an interface layer that ties into any back-end infrastructure. By mid-2004, Plumtree expects to roll out a J2EE version of its portal featuring support for Sun Solaris and IBM AIX. Support for Linux will be added later.