Anticipating changing business conditions is a vital component to strategic planning.
To help ready themselves for the future however, companies need not resort to crystal ball gazing.
The existing business landscape can often signpost what lies ahead – but it’s important to remain vigilant if this road is to be successfully navigated and changes are to be effectively managed.
At this time of year, fleet operators are invariably looking to the horizon as they set about preparing for the business hurdles and opportunities that await them.
Each year brings with it a new set of challenges. We take a look at four of the most important considerations for them during 2018.
1. A risky business
Risk has always been a major concern for any company – and it will remain the subject of particular focus during 2018. Driver education and establishing a safety culture top the list of fleet challenges for a number operators.
Indeed, Webfleet research recently revealed that more than a fifth (23 per cent) of European companies whose employees drive for work purposes have no road safety policy in place, and less than three-fifths (58 per cent) provide driving training.
The harnessing and use of data to identify, profile and target key areas of fleet risk will remain at the heart of effective management. Technology, including telematics and connected car solutions, will continue to evolve to help address and simplify this process.
2. Connecting to high tech future
Technology continually promises the golden ticket in business’s relentless quest for efficiency. And the pace of change in the automotive sector will herald plenty of excitement – and opportunities – throughout 2018.
It will also present no shortage of challenges. Our research has found that 57 per cent of businesses have invested in technology over the past five years that has been underused – and a third (33 per cent) have attributed this to the technology proving incompatible with existing systems and processes.
We can expect to see a continued shift from traditional fleet management to smarter mobility with the seamless flow of data between different elements of software and hardware realising benefits across different business functions. But businesses must do their homework if they are to successfully exploit the explosion in connected fleet applications. Many suppliers in the market claim to offer integration, but buyers would be advised to select providers that have a proven track record.
3. Environmental concerns fuel change
The demonisation of diesel, along with a Europe-wide commitment to reducing road transport emissions, is likely to see a momentum away from the black stuff continue during 2018.
Furthermore, an increasing number of electric and hybrid commercial vehicles are now being offered by manufacturers. With high numbers of traditionally-fuelled vehicles continuing to be registered, and a considerable legacy still on Europe’s roads, options for fuel cost optimisation call for careful consideration.
Although many have remained cautious about introducing electric, and other alternative-fueled vehicles, to their fleets, businesses should review their long-term fuel strategies to ensure their fleets are future-proof and that their bottom line is protected.
Designed to harmonise data privacy laws across Europe, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces the Data Protection Act from May 25.
The fleet industry, which is increasingly utilising data on their mobile workers and their vehicles, will be affected. The regulations may require some operators to review and revise their data management processes.
At the heart of GDPR is the requirement to know exactly what data is being used, why and for how long – and to be accountable for this. It is also important to minimize any negative impact to drivers and to be able to clearly explain to them what happens with their data.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll examine GDPR in further detail to help guide you through the regulatory maze.