Automakers Tap AOL for Employee Internet Portals

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Automotive rivals DaimlerChrysler AG and General Motors Corp. last week inked landmark deals with America Online Inc. to serve up Internet access at work and home for their U.S. employees.

By the first quarter next year, each automaker will create a corporate portal site for its U.S. employees. Each is slated to offer self-service human resources information such as access to pension accounts, benefits enrollments and workflow applications, officials said.

DaimlerChrysler and GM will use the same software platform, designed by Workscape Inc., a human resources portal services company in Reston, Va. The 2-year-old start-up, in which AOL holds an equity stake, has also developed portal sites for organizations like The Gap Inc., The Chase Manhattan Corp. and the U.S. Postal Service. Workscape will use intranet software from Sun Microsystems Inc.'s iPlanet.

Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Co. was noticeably absent from the announcement. Ford officials couldn't be immediately reached for comment.

Dulles, Va.-based AOL will serve as the preferred Internet service provider for both corporations. Detroit-based GM and Stuttgart, Germany-based DaimlerChrysler will subsidize the subscription rates to AOL for U.S. employees. Basic AOL Internet access, normally priced at $21.95 per month, will be offered at $3.

The deal also includes access to AOLTV for $5 per month and to both AOLTV and DirecTV Inc. for $31.95 per month.

Andy Goloboy, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass., said offering Internet access via PC and television will benefit employees who may not have PCs at home. "This solves the technology access problem for blue-collar workers, because a lot of these people may not have access to the Web," he said. "But there is still a good chunk of process work to go through next year to pull all of this together."

DaimlerChrysler has about 100,000 employees in the U.S, while GM has 200,000.

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