Motor retail services giant adopts .net

Reynolds & Reynolds, a top motor retail information management company in the US, is planning the roll-out of a number of Web...

Reynolds & Reynolds, a top motor retail information management company in the US, is planning the roll-out of a number of Web services modules based upon Microsoft's .net technology

The Reynolds Generations Series is entirely based on .net and it makes Reynolds a showcase in Microsoft's early-adopter programme.

Reynolds, whose solutions touch on most aspects of dealer management, will over time convert all of its services to the .net platform, said Lloyd Waterhouse, chairman, president, and chief executive of Reynolds.

"We have a dealer management system, and a system that tracks consumer data, and one that tracks vehicle data, and the weakness was no integration [among them]. Adopting .net deeply integrates the solutions in the Generations Series. We can build out around that environment," Waterhouse said.

As an early adopter of the .net platform, Reynolds developers will get support from Microsoft, said Scott Carlton, general manager of Microsoft's automotive division.

"If they need a particular feature we can write that feature and put it in .net. If Reynolds needs it, someone else in the auto industry probably does too," Carlton said.

One analyst says Microsoft is the biggest winner in the deal.

"Microsoft is already leading as a software provider at work and in people's homes. The only environment it hasn't gotten though to is the automotive market and inside the vehicle," said Thilo Koslowski, senior analyst for Gartner G2. "Web services deployment with Reynolds is an important step for Microsoft rather than for the auto industry," he added.

In the meantime, there are real business-to-business benefits for Reynolds, especially in an industry with old technology that needs to be updated.

Most motor dealers in the US have as many as six green screens in their dealership, and each terminal is a silo of information, Waterhouse said.

Reynolds hopes to integrate those separate information silos so that a single action by a customer launches a number of simultaneous Web services.

"We don't have to rip out our dealer management system. Using .net made it compatible to our old legacy system," Waterhouse said.

Waterhouse also pointed out that the Web services would allow Reynolds to devise new services and new pricing schemes for its customers.

Web services will allow Reynolds to use tiered pricing with fees more closely aligned to a usage model and number of modules. "It will be pay-per-use more than standalone," Waterhouse said.

The service will also integrate with broadband and wireless networks using the .net Passport and .net Alerts technology.

Reynolds will begin rolling out Generations modules in April.

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