GMAC extends dealer reach with BI

General Motors Acceptance Corporation, the financial services arm of General Motors, has set up a business intelligence network for more than 200 dealers that is saving $115,000 a year on postage and materials.

GMAC provides wholesale and retail financing for General Motors dealers which sell brands such as Holden, SAAB, and Subaru.

Seeking to move away from programming-based reporting systems to one that is low maintenance, GMAC business systems analyst Peter Cawdron, introduced a three-month trail with five licences from business intelligence provider Business Objects.

He said WebIntelligence, from BO, was selected because of its ability to view data at any level and generate reports to meet internal and external requirements.

According to Cawdron, the GMAC dealer network was launched progressively over two months in a "roadshow-style" rollout which gave the dealers free access to WebIntelligence.

He said the BI network "has allowed us to sustain a 10 per cent increase in employees and a 30 per cent increase in receivables while providing accurate and timely information".

To implement to the system, GMAC developed a Business Objects universe (a portal of functions intended for a specific group of users) without any third-party consultation.

"It took less than a week to put together the initial universe design with a Business Objects consultant and all the development has been done in-house, without programming support.

"WebIntelligence was installed on an existing server running other processes. All this meant that it could be installed, developed and maintained without a huge budget."

GMAC's WebIntelligence platform is a dual 700MHz Intel server running Windows 2000. Dealers connect to the server via a Web browser which Cawdron claims works well even over a modem connection to the Internet -- in order to gain access to finance reports.

"Motor vehicle financing is highly competitive; however, we have had feedback from dealers saying that WebIntelligence is more effective than other systems," Cawdron said.

He conceded that although the system is not interactive, the dealers see the interface as geared to their specific needs.

"We have provided dealers with a phone number and contact e-mail for feedback," he said. "The dealers can then give feedback as to what type of reports they need."

With WebIntelligence in place, GMAC is now developing an online, interactive wholesale system for its dealer network.

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