Prior to the introduction of the Internet computers in different physical locations communicated with each other through private networks. The connections were established over phone lines either through dial up modems or dedicated connections. Information was for the most part transmitted in batches. Real time information integration hadn’t gained widespread usage yet. Also, at this time local area networks hadn’t achieved the power to drive anything beyond file and print sharing. Then within a relatively short period of time personal computers became more powerful and local area networks became faster and thus were able to run software in a true client server environment. This sounded the death knoll for the server centric environments in which a single computer had multiple terminals attached to it. Coinciding with the advancements in personal computers and local area networks was the introduction of the World Wide Web. This enabled real time sharing and processing of information between systems in different locations.
New terminology was introduced to reference these new network processing environments. The local area network became the Intranet and connecting with business partners over the Internet began to be referred to as the Extranet. Businesses began to communicate with their partners in real time over the Internet.
In the auto repair industry parts suppliers began to provide integrated pricing, sourcing and ordering of parts directly through shop management systems. Labor and repair guides began to offer direct integration over the Internet. The number and type of service providers that offer this type of integration continues to grow. The auto repair shop management system is no longer confined to the four walls of a single building.
Networking across both the Intranet and Extranet provide a huge boost in productivity and cost reduction for the auto repair business. This aspect of information systems for the industry is still growing as of this writing and more gains will be recognized as capabilities expand.