Coventry-based Parallax Solutions Ltd, one of the companies involved in the design of the now German car maker Rover’s multimedia dealer system, says front-end Windows facilities have been kept to a minimum for simplicity. Managing director Adrian Irwin told a seminar on Rover’s latest marketing venture that car dealers were one of the least technologically-aware […]
Coventry-based Parallax Solutions Ltd, one of the companies involved in the design of the now German car maker Rover’s multimedia dealer system, says front-end Windows facilities have been kept to a minimum for simplicity. Managing director Adrian Irwin told a seminar on Rover’s latest marketing venture that car dealers were one of the least technologically-aware group. We’ve kept it user friendly so that it doesn’t need an enormous amount of training. The user interface is object-oriented and can be adapted to all markets. The multimedia system is designed to provides dealer big and small with details of all Rover’s products and their availibilty. Throughout 1994, dealers will be equipped with a Business Process Management System front-ended by Gupta Corp’s SQLWindows which will provide them with this information. SQLWindows was chosen over other systems because it offered flexibility and the capacity to store large graphic image files. Also, SQLWindows provides simple and efficient links in to C++, the language the Business Process Management System is written in, the creators say. Dealers are linked to Rover’s central Product Catalogue Authoring System via a Digital Equipment Corp Alpha RISC-based server running Windows NT Advanced Server. The Product Catalogue Authoring System database is held in a Gupta SQLBase database running on a Sparcstation at the company’s headquarters in Longridge. The Product Catalogue Authoring System is the central repository of information and is constantly updated. As well as text-based information, video and photographic images can be stored. Slough, Berkshire-based RCMS Computing Services Ltd developed the original systems architecture; Parallax, which developed the application, was formed by Irwin when he left Rover where he had been the BPMS programme manager. DEC has checked integration and provided documentation; AT&T Istel Ltd will provide system management and user support services. However, it is still a little early to call it a multimedia system: at the moment it is still very much a static screen display. Irwin says the barriers to full multimedia systems in car showrooms are cost and the continual emergence of hardware. But he says that within two to three years this will be a ‘non-issue’. Rover is hoping the multimedia system will transform selling, changing customers’ experiences in showrooms from one of hard sell pressure to that of working with the dealer to find the most suitable car. It will also mean that Rover will shift production from meeting quotas to building on demand; dealers will no longer keep large stocks.