Sprint, Cisco team on IP platform for automakers

FRAMINGHAM (11/14/2003) - Sprint Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. have joined forces to sell the infrastructure needed to improve communication between automakers and auto dealers, the two companies announced this week.

The new platform, called Sprint Dealer Solutions, allows dealers and manufacturers to securely exchange information in real time over an IP virtual private network.

"This is the first step in building a system that allows dealers to communicate very effectively with manufacturers because it is an open system," said Lee Priest, Sprint's director of segment marketing. "IP allows effective and efficient communication targets."

Priest said that by putting together an IP system, automakers can start to build extranets to push information to dealerships. The network allows auto dealers and carmakers to share information regarding parts and inventory management and customer orders.

He said that much of the communication between automakers and dealers, including repair update information, is currently done by paper.

"It's then mailed out to the dealership, and a technician would have to thumb through it at the dealership," Priest said. "By putting this stuff online and having a dealership (with) Web access via an IP connection, they can quickly get the same information via an alert or their repair database."

In addition, the platform provides the infrastructure needed for e-commerce and customer relationship management.

Sprint Dealer Solutions supports the latest standards for communication between dealers and auto manufacturers, which are being developed by the Standards for Technology in Automotive Retail association.

Prices will vary, depending on customer use, Sprint said.

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