Well, the short answer is yes, it can. In fact – if it is done correctly – it is an optimal approach to maximizing the performance of a dealership’s IT team.
The technology that dealers depend on to sell and service cars and trucks is complex and this technology advances continuously. Throw into the mix that dealers face a significant cybersecurity threat and defending against this threat requires extensive skill and training. Keeping up with the technology and tactics of the cybercriminal to deploy a viable defense to stay ahead of the game is a huge task.
There is just no way that one person, or even a small team of people, can possibly have all the skills and the capacity needed to effectively deal with today’s complex networks, technologies and the expanding cybersecurity threat. It is just impossible.
An internal IT team can benefit greatly from the resources and expertise that partnering with an external IT team can provide. But what should the internal resources be responsible for and what should the external team handle?
Let’s start with maintaining a dealership’s IT infrastructure. File servers, workstations, routers, firewalls all require a sophisticated approach, set of skills, and tool set to keep them stable, secure, resilient, reliable, and scalable. Typically, this set of responsibilities is best suited for an experienced Managed Service Provider (MSP). Additionally, since the technologies that dealers use are unique, it is highly recommended that the MSP handling your IT infrastructure specialize in the technologies that dealers use.
Closely tied to the responsibility of maintaining a dealership’s IT infrastructure, is the accountability for protecting the dealership from a cybersecurity attack. Cybersecurity skills are very specialized and require extensive training and certifications. Well trained cybersecurity professionals are expensive, hard to find and to hard keep. As a result, many dealerships don’t have this type of skill set in-house. Therefore, cyber-defense is also best left to an external team of experts.
What about the internal IT team? Internal IT understands the people and the specific internal operations of the dealership. Serving as a liaison between dealership management and the external IT team they can provide valuable insight into prioritizing projects, budgeting, and ensuring that projects meet the strategic objectives of the dealership.
Furthermore, in many situations, internal IT may be best positioned to manage things like the dealership’s website, on-site surveillance technology (cameras and other on-site security) and the various niche applications that the dealership might be using – other than those that are foundational (DMS or CRM). Depending on the size and skill level of the internal team, they may also be best suited to handle the day-to-day on-site support needs of the dealership’s employees. Whether or not employee on-site support is handled by an internal or an external team or some combination depends on the unique needs and size of the dealership. For this reason, working with a flexible external IT partner with extensive capabilities is the best option. This way, as your dealership evolves, so can your IT team to best support your needs.
New Technology & Strategic Planning
When it comes to keeping up to date on new technological advances and evolving cybersecurity threats, this is best left to the those who have the training and capacity to learn these technologies and how best to apply them to the business of selling and servicing cars and trucks. This should fall to the external IT team. However, the external IT team should be collaborating with the internal IT team to best plan for the use of these technologies based on the unique opportunities and constraints of the specific dealership.
Internal and external teams each have a set of skills and capabilities that are most powerful when they join together in an amicable relationship and work as a team. Such a relationship will undoubtedly boost dealership productivity and security.