An announcement between Microsoft and Nissan to develop a dealer management system further proves one thing we've learned this year: connectivity is becoming increasingly important in the auto industry.

The two companies announced a "strategic relationship" on Monday, says the Financial Times (sub req'd). Nissan will use Microsoft's Dynamics CRM software to help Nissan connect with its customers.

Using the Windows Azure platform, Nissan and its dealers will use cloud computing technology to connect with its customers, and will allow greater interaction between owner, car and dealer, particularly with the high-tech systems found in electric cars like the 2011 Nissan Leaf.

Connected cars are rising in popularity, and Microsoft even sees them as the third fastest-growing connected device, after mobile phones and tablet computers. All aspects of consumer electronics are developing at such a rate that unconnected vehicles quickly become outdated. New connected technology allows greater interaction for vehicles in every day life - and the option for dealers and makers to communicate with individual vehicles.

It's not the first time Microsoft has partnered with a car company. The technology giant worked with Ford to develop Sync, and recently announced a partnership with Toyota to build a new vehicle communications platform.