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A STAR is born

November 24, 2010
NADA initiative to simplify computer operations, cut related IT costs

 A dealership's success historically has been based on vehicle sales and service and the development of "up close and personal" customer relationships. But many dealers face a dilemma when their computer technology must be updated for them to remain competitive. They feel they are not fully in control of their Information Technology operations. An organization named STAR, developed to help dealers reduce their IT-related costs, has been founded by the National Automobile Dealers Association, auto manufacturers (OEMs) and dealer system providers. Collectively, the group develops industry standards and researches emerging technologies to benefit dealers. The mission of STAR, which stands for Standards for Technology in Automotive Retail, is to "Establish voluntary industry standards for the exchange, management and integration of information that support the management, delivery and evaluation of retail automobile products and services. Specifically, to create flexible, cost effective standards and methodologies for interoperability between IT systems." STAR establishes a voluntary standard format, or common "language," to be used by dealer-related businesses, including manufacturers and DSP vendors. Implementation of the standards will consolidate the DCS hookups that currently differ among manufacturers and their multi-franchise and single-point dealers. Dealers who participate will have one "persistent" Internet connection-available at any time-with enough bandwidth to carry the data c o n s t a n t l y streaming between them and the OEMs. The dealers' customer relations and back-office technology also will benefit because the DSPs and others employ the STAR standards, available at no cost. The NADA has appealed to dealers, asking them to encourage their automotive partners to adopt the STAR standards. The sooner everyone implements the standards, the sooner everyone will benefit. "We will do whatever we can to inform our members about STAR. It's a breakthrough achievement that clearly is in the best interests of our dealers," said Rod Alberts, president of the Automotive Trade Association Executives. Dealers and their IT managers who have specific or technical questions about STAR can contact the NADA's Dick Malaise at 703-821-7125 or