CDK Global is a leading global provider of integrated information technology and digital marketing solutions to the automotive retail industry. Managing over 11,000 retail client locations in North America alone, CDK has been serving the automotive retail industry for over 40 years with a remarkable average client retention rate of 20 years.
As the need for WiFi has become an expectation that brands are reviewed against, many dealerships have reactively opted for unsuitable consumer-grade solutions. “A lot of our customers might not have an in-house IT resource to begin with,” explained Dave Tibbils, Product Marketing Manager at CDK Global. “So when you add wireless solutions that are intended for home use, you end up with a lot of unhappy users – staff and customers.”
Prior to evaluating Meraki, CDK offered customers a limited managed wireless service built on a controller-based architecture. “We used to offer a partial managed wireless service to automotive dealerships that was used in spot locations within their businesses.” said Tibbils. “In addition, the legacy access points we used to employ were autonomous and difficult to manage, which consequently restricted us from providing a managed wireless service to parts of a dealership beyond those limited areas.”
With a rich heritage of working with automotive dealerships, CDK’s Meraki-powered wireless service ‘GetWireless’ was developed with dealers in mind. “We know dealerships want to focus time and resources on their core competencies of selling cars, parts, and services without having to worry about the hassle of network management. They just want wireless to work.” commented Tibbils. “Meraki allowed us to effortlessly tailor GetWireless to align with these needs.”
GetWireless is a complete wireless service for automotive dealerships, which includes integration into their existing wired network. “GetWireless seamlessly delivers high quality WiFi connectivity and coverage and takes the pressure off the IT person at dealerships,” said Tibbils.
With our previous solution, deployment at customer sites would typically take at least one week. With Meraki, the majority of deployments are usually completed within a day.Derek Skillings, CDK Implementation Director
The Meraki dashboard is a multi-tenanted architecture, meaning that CDK is able to remotely manage thousands of dealerships running GetWireless from anywhere in the world. “Meraki’s cloud-managed architecture really changed the game for us and allowed us to become a complete service provider rather than a systems integrator,” explained Tibbils. “Using Meraki to power GetWireless allows us to provide customers an extraordinary experience as well as being exceptionally cost effective. Zero-touch provisioning delivers the service in short order, and we’re able to react to support cases in real-time.” All Meraki hardware devices, including APs, can be remotely registered and configured using a simple web-browser, even before they arrive at customer sites, meaning there is no on-site configuration required.
CDK’s service also provides dealerships with visibility about how their network is being used and powerful location-based analytics, such as the number of passers-by vs. visitors, the duration of visits, and their frequency.
The Meraki dashboard allows a service provider’s administrator to add users to the dashboard and configure their level of access. In this way, without the delay of having to commission the build-out of a portal, CDK was able to rapidly bring GetWireless to market and provide customers with a ‘monitor-only’ view of the dashboard. The monitor-only version of the dashboard is a sleek customer-facing, web-based portal that reveals clients connecting to their network, usage, and location-based analytics. “Usage and location-based information is already built into in the Meraki dashboard, so without incurring any additional cost, we can make this accessible to customers so they are able to make more informed business decisions,” said Tibbils. Service providers can adapt the dashboard to be customer facing by branding it with their own logo so their service is consistent with their branding.
Service providers can radically simplify their quotation procedure with Meraki. Meraki licensing is per hardware device and is inclusive of all features so each GetWireless quote consists of only 2 SKUs. “With just a few SKUs, we’re able to pleasantly surprise customers with a swift quote,” said Michael Jurica, CDK Director of Sales Engineering. CDK’s process for providing a quote for GetWireless involves a survey of the dealership to determine the number of access points required for full coverage as well as to discuss requirements and aspirations for the WiFi. “Providing customers a quote for GetWireless is simple to build for us and simple to understand for dealers,” continued Jurica.
Customers are provided with a cost for the design and install of GetWireless, along with a flat recurring rate for ongoing management such as helpdesk, firmware updates, and 24×7 fault monitoring. “Rather than charge a fee for individual service items for managing WiFi, we’re able to provide a simple-to-understand fixed monthly rate for GetWireless which is inclusive of all service items,” explained Jurica.
CDK was able to significantly improve its operational efficiency of deploying a service at customer sites in multiple ways by using Meraki. “With our previous solution, deployment at customer sites would typically take at least one week,” explained Derek Skillings, CDK Implementation Director. “With Meraki, the majority of deployments are usually completed within a day.”
Given that there is no need for pre-staging, once a dealership places an order for GetWireless, a corresponding order is placed on Meraki for access points to be shipped directly to the customer’s site. CDK’s Implementation team remotely enters the Meraki order number into the dashboard to register the APs and complete the configuration to the dealership’s requirements without ever being on-site. “Previously we had to have a field service engineer to physically install hardware and a certified wireless engineer on-site for network configuration to get a service online,” said Skillings. CDK can now much more efficiently utilize their wireless engineers by cutting out the need for them to travel to-and-from customer-sites.
“Meraki has enabled us to roll out much higher quality installs – we’re able to get the deployment right the first time,” said Skillings. “Even if adjustments need to be made, with Meraki, we’re able to do this remotely in minutes.” Similarly, CDK has minimized the instances for engineers to be called out to customer sites, as most helpdesk cases can be diagnosed and resolved remotely using tools built into the dashboard such as over-the-web packet capture, cable testing, and RF spectrum analysis.
GetWireless has been a resounding success for CDK with thousands of Meraki devices deployed across hundreds of dealerships, thus far collectively transferring over 20TB of traffic, on average, every week. CDK is now exploring the creation of new services powered by the fullstack of Meraki devices – APs, switches, security appliances and MDM.