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Where in the World is STAR!

Written by admin on September 10, 2009 – 12:22 pm

Check out the list of countries that have visited the STAR XML Spec page since January 2009:

# Country Visits
1 United States 8,497
2 Canada 955
3 India 700
4 Germany 493
5 United Kingdom 493
6 Japan 324
7 China 254
8 Singapore 214
9 Italy 193
10 France 160
11 Philippines 152
12 Australia 124
13 Sweden 106
14 Netherlands 88
15 Belgium 74
16 Brazil 64
17 Spain 60
18 Norway 48
19 Ireland 44
20 Russia 38
21 Malaysia 36
22 South Africa 31
23 Turkey 29
24 Mexico 28
25 Denmark 28
26 Poland 26
27 Switzerland 23
28 Hong Kong 22
29 United Arab Emirates 22
30 Romania 22
31 South Korea 21
32 Greece 19
33 Pakistan 18
34 Saudi Arabia 17
35 New Zealand 15
36 Portugal 15
37 Finland 14
38 Argentina 14
39 Austria 12
40 Indonesia 12
41 Iran 12
42 Puerto Rico 12
43 Thailand 11
44 Egypt 11
45 Ukraine 11
46 Czech Republic 11
47 Colombia 10
48 Algeria 8
49 Kuwait 7
50 Sri Lanka 7
51 Hungary 7
52 Bulgaria 7
53 Chile 6
54 Vietnam 6
55 Taiwan 6
56 Serbia 5
57 Morocco 5
58 Israel 5
59 Slovakia 5
60 Lebanon 4
61 Croatia 4
62 Qatar 4
63 Jamaica 4
64 Oman 4
65 Lithuania 4
66 Syria 3
67 Mongolia 3
68 Cyprus 3
69 Kazakhstan 3
70 Tunisia 3
71 Ecuador 3
72 Venezuela 3
73 Belarus 2
74 Slovenia 2
75 Macedonia 2
76 Ethiopia 2
77 Côte d’Ivoire 2
78 Dominican Republic 2
79 Kenya 2
80 Georgia 1
81 Albania 1
82 Monaco 1
83 Latvia 1
84 Brunei 1
85 Costa Rica 1
86 Estonia 1
87 Laos 1
88 Gibraltar 1
89 Libya 1
90 Burkina Faso 1
91 Uruguay 1
92 New Caledonia 1
93 Bosnia and Herzegovina 1
94 Bahrain 1
95 Yemen 1
96 Palestinian Territories 1
97 Malta 1
98 Namibia 1
99 Peru 1
100 Azerbaijan 1
101 Ghana 1
102 Luxembourg 1

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Dealers: It’s Time We Met

Written by admin on September 4, 2009 – 7:40 am

On July 21, 2009 STAR posted its second 2009 release of the Dealership Infrastructure Guidelines, more commonly referred to as the DIG. The DIG is a set of guidelines and best practices designed to aid a dealership’s IT staff in the implementation and maintenance of its network infrastructure. STAR has been providing support for the dealer community with the publication of the DIG and its predecessor document, for over 10 years. So it may come as a surprise to some that a majority of dealers are not aware of STAR, the DIG or the STAR data exchange standards. Why is that? Well, here’s my guess.

The spotlight of the STAR organization is typically drawn to its data exchange standards, its common architecture, and the need to promote the interoperable exchange of data between OEMs and DMS providers, the key players in the development and utilization of STAR standards. The data standards themselves are, by their nature and if properly implemented, meant to be transparent to the dealer. Basically, the standards remain hidden in the back-end of a dealer’s systems. The ideal situation leaves the dealer with only the benefits of the standards which are designed to increase and improve vendor choice, lower costs, eliminate redundant data entry, and improve overall business efficiencies.

Unfortunately, with the amount of attention given to the STAR data exchanges standards and the intended transparency to the dealer, in many cases the STAR message itself does not make its way to the dealer.

Then there are some cases where a STAR message or a STAR-related message is given to the dealer, but not necessarily one that conveys the value of the standards. In the case of a dealer’s IT infrastructure, the dealer may be made aware of changes resulting from franchise agreement necessities noted as addendums to STAR’s DIG. For example, an OEM may notify its dealer community that they must be off a proprietary satellite by the end of the year to be in compliance with that OEM’s new IT infrastructure requirements that are in the OEM’s Addendum to the STAR DIG. While this change could end up saving the dealer thousands in return on investment, it is not exactly a glowing STAR recommendation. Instead, the dealer only sees unexpected costs and changes being dictated with no clear understanding of what value or ROI is to be derived from the change and not much choice. Again a message, but not exactly the one STAR wants to convey.

When we are developing value propositions and marketing initiatives, we all too often forget that it is ultimately the dealer that utilizes the systems that implement the standards. Therefore, it is ultimately the dealer that is our end customer. If we miss this point, we are missing a valuable opportunity to grow and support a grass roots movement that has the ability to promote STAR from the bottom up. This is a voice that, to date, as has been under utilized.

Consider the possibility of dealers requiring their vendors’ to utilize STAR standards. What about the possibility of an entire dealer council urging its OEM to not only support STAR standards but to map a course for STAR compliance? Those and more are all possibilities with an educated and empowered dealer community.

So how do we get there? We need to bring STAR from the back-end of dealership systems to the forefront of the dealer’s day to day business. Dealers must understand what STAR is, what it has done for dealers, and what it can do for their business AND how they can support STAR.

Recognizing this lack of brand awareness, STAR has identified as a 2009-2010 objective the need to create more education and awareness within the Dealer community. Education and awareness are basic tools for empowerment when it comes to standards.

One way that STAR is doing this is by partnering with its members such as OEMs and dealer organizations like NADA, who have a common interest in promoting such STAR initiatives as the STAR DIG. Through these types of partnerships STAR can connect with dealers through its members’ dealer facing websites and dealer communications to promote the education and awareness of STAR and the DIG. A good example of this type of successful partnership would be NADA’s “STAR and Internet Guidelines for Dealers” web page. This page is dedicated to promoting the STAR DIG, to post the latest STAR Dealer Tech Sheets, and to encourage dealers to contact their manufacturers about STAR standards.

STAR is also looking to partner with members and their dealers to promote the success that they have had implementing the DIG. STAR would like to capture these success stories along with recommendations to expand and improve the DIG in the form of testimonials to be shared with the larger Dealer community.

Through these joint efforts and more, STAR and its members can ensure that dealers are aware of and have access to STAR materials such as the DIG.

The DIG is the dealer’s gateway into STAR. Once dealers are aware of STAR, aware of the benefits that they can receive from STAR standards both in terms of their network infrastructure and their systems, they themselves can become STAR advocates. They can use STAR compliance as a criterion for selecting vendors. They can encourage their OEMs to adopt and participate in STAR standards. Dealers can even participate in STAR’s Dealer Advisory Group and identify areas of operation within the dealership that could benefit from standards.

The Dealer Community is a critical component in the sale and service of vehicles and even more critical to STAR is it ultimately our end customer. With education and awareness, it is a community that can play an invaluable role in moving the standards movement forward.

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Top 5 Reasons to Give Back

Written by admin on June 19, 2009 – 9:52 am

Here are my top 5 reasons for giving requirements back to STAR:

5. You say “tomato”….: Your request for PartNumber may already be captured under another name such as ItemNumber. If you submit a change request, STAR can help you find those hidden requirement gems already existing in the standard.

4. Think of this as Greyhound and leave the driving to us: One benefit of submitting a modification request is that we will do the schema updates for you. Who doesn’t like having someone else do their work for them ?!?!

3. No One-Offs: You can greatly reduce if not eliminate the need to support multiple one-off implementations.

2. Do What You Do Best: When you are not focusing on the one-offs you have more resources available to focus your efforts on your company’s core competencies and what truly makes you great. Disclaimer: If doing one-off implementations is your company’s core competency…well you probably aren’t reading this blog so on to the number 1 reason.

1. Pay it Forward: The number one reason to submit a your requirements back to STAR is both a selfish one and altruistic one. By submitting your requirements back to the standard, you are easing your own integration pains when working with your trading partners and you are supporting the STAR Community by improving interoperability and easing integration pains for your trading partners and their business partners.

By all means, if I’ve missed a great reason for giving back please don’t be shy. Let me know what you think are the best reasons for giving back to the standard.

Here’s a not so rhetorical question. Why not submit your requirements back to STAR?

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Important Dealer Information

Written by dcarver on March 26, 2009 – 4:52 am

The dealership Infrastructure Guidelines (DIG)is more than just a reference tool for the IT professionals inside the dealership. This document is a valuable tool to help the dealer principal and anyone responsible for the computer, data and security of information related to a dealership.

The DIG2009v1.0 which was published in January of 2009 contains information that can not only help setup key infrastructure components but it also helps maintain that infrastructure. Some of the chapters in this document such as Dealer Security delve into everything from firewall details to technology intrusion detection.

Click here to view the current DIG document

For those who are not familiar with the DIG we publish changes to the document every 6 months. Some of the changes to look for in coming versions are:

– Network Related updates (such as wireless standards, cabling and more)
– Outsourcing vs. Insourcing (does is make sense to have internal IT)
– Disc Imaging (what does this do for your dealership)
– Data Storage Standards (what you need to know about storing passwords, files, etc)

In addition to these changes the workgroup responsible for the DIG publishes several Dealer related Technology sheets. The latest document revolved around Network Utilization. These documents are published every 3 months and are based on common questions dealers have about technology, data laws and more.

Click here to view Dealer Technology Sheets

Click here to view Dealer Frequently Asked Questions

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Notification of Updated Entries

Written by dcarver on February 3, 2009 – 9:19 am

The STAR eXchange is one of the ways STAR is trying to better reach and inform our user community. BLOGs provide an easy way to post some information, so that it gets out to a wider audience in a quicker fashion. The typical way of being kept informed is through a news reader or your News Feed enabled browser or email client. However not everybody wants to use yet another client to be notified. STAR now has several ways to keep up to date with the information we post here.

  • Subscribe through your favorite browser (Internet Explorer 7, FireFox, Safari, or Opera), or News Reader (My Yahoo, Google Reader, etc.)
  • Subscribe through an Email Subscription.

The later option will send a HTML or Text entry containing the latest postings for that day if there are any. This way those that are already using email to manage other subscriptions for mailing lists and day to day tasks, can use the same tools they are comfortable with already. The new Subcribe by email option on the left has been provided to allow easy subscription to the blog. The emails addresses will not be sold and will be kept confidential.

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The STAR eXchange

Written by dcarver on January 23, 2009 – 4:26 pm

Welcome, to STAR’s new community blog. We’ll be using this to provide some information to the STAR user community, and to provide important information that affects not only the membership but also the users of the STAR specifications. Topics will range from the informative, to the nitty gritty detail of work with XML and specifically the STAR XML Schemas.

With the NADA convention starting Saturday, we’ll do some realtime blog postings directly from the NADA convention floor. This I believe is a first for STAR and for many standards organizations. So it will be an interesting experiment. We hope the user community finds this useful, and we look forward to receiving comments and feed back. Let us know what you want to see from this site. Where has STAR helped you? Where can we improve?

We will strive to make this as informative and fun as possible. Showing the lighter side of Standards. In a future blog posting we will provide more information about how to sign up for The STAR eXchange e-mail newsletter. We encourage you to subscribe to the newsfeed as well to help keep informed when new postings are done.

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