How Honda UK is heading down the global tech road

Honda UK CIO Gareth Jackson discusses the challenges of running local IT for a global company

...reduces the pressure on inhouse IT skills, according to Jackson.

"Someone has really got to convince me before we buy extra bits of stuff, whether it's software or hardware, because the more complex you make it, the more you get into a skill problem. If you reduce the number of languages you use, the number of extra add-ons you use, then it's a lot simpler to look for people with the right skills," he said.

Meeting the needs of a national dealer network

The dealership network is a key part of Honda UK's business, as it represents the main channel through which its products are sold.

Honda UK has three franchised dealer networks selling cars, motorcycles and powered equipment - which includes all-terrain vehicles, generators, lawnmowers and marine engines.

One of the most challenging aspects of working for Honda UK is balancing the technology needs of the corporate business with those of the franchised dealers.

Honda dealership: Honda has a network of franchised dealers in the UK which are allowed a degree of freedom with their IT

Honda has a network of franchised car and motorcycle dealers in the UK, which are allowed a degree of freedom with their IT
Photo: Honda UK

About eight years ago, Honda UK took the decision to put as little constraint as possible on the IT used by dealerships. Previously, Honda UK specified that dealers should use Honda-approved PCs and proprietary networks to connect to the Honda infrastructure. But the company now uses web-based systems that dealers can access in any way they choose.

"So the dealer networks need an internet connection to us and they can access Honda systems; whether that's ordering a car, ordering parts, getting prices down from us, or getting leads from us, all those systems are internet-based," Jackson said.

"We don't want to be specifying - this is the PC you must buy, this is the sort of network you must have. All we specify to them is the level of browser we're supporting and we recommend an internet connection speed," he added.

If dealers have problems with the Honda systems, they contact the service desk at Honda UK's HQ to solve them.

The Honda UK systems have also been made as simple to use as possible so that franchised dealers are able to interact with the company with the minimum of fuss.

One of the simple ways in which this goal has been achieved has been to allow dealers to use the car's registration number rather than the standard 18-digit vehicle identification number when registering cars and their new owners with the DVLA. This reduces both the time to register vehicles and the potential for errors when entering search terms.

In keeping with the aim to make it easy for dealers to work with Honda, the company also makes an effort to...