Telematics – the move to mobility

In our previous blog focused on the evolution of telematics, we took a look at the technology’s past. Now we turn our gaze towards the near future.

Telematics has a potentially huge role to play as we increasingly move from a traditional model of fleet management to a bold new world of ‘mobility’.

We’ve already gone far beyond the days when telematics was used only for basic track-and-trace functionality. Now, when we discuss the technology, we are talking increasingly about ‘connectivity’ and the ability of telematics to play a key role in linking vehicles to a range of other connected devices, including smartphones, mobile hardware or even the road infrastructure.

The ‘black box’ has started to act as a hub for the collection and transmission of critical data from out on the road, meaning almost any vehicle can become ‘connected’.

In a business sense, this means that vehicle data – as well as data from devices in the field that connect to the vehicle – can increasingly be used to inform decision-making across a number of functions within a company.

For example, in the temperature-controlled transport sector, telematics can link with in-vehicle temperature sensors to provide detailed trip reports that show the exact temperature cargo was kept at for any time or location point during a journey. This kind of information is critical for helping to prove standards of customer service and ensure compliance with service level agreements (SLAs).

But telematics systems can also work with back-office software to help change the way in which fleet data is used. Our Software-as-a-Service fleet management platform Webfleet, for example, benefits from stable, open APIs that mean it readily integrates with a range of alternative software platforms, including routing and scheduling, invoicing and customer relationship management (CRM).

The integration with a CRM means that a business can feasibly analyse the sales performance of team members against fuel usage and mileage to build a more accurate picture of their true effectiveness and propose more efficient ways of completing sales appointments.

Similarly, an integration with the software used by a vehicle leasing supplier means that odometer and vehicle diagnostics data can be fed back to the leasing company on an ongoing basis, allowing vehicles to be called in for proactive maintenance when a problem first occurs and making it possible to adapt service schedules according to actual usage.

Not only is such information incredibly useful in improving the efficiency and productivity of a company’s current operations, it will also become more important as the fleet managers of today evolve into the ‘mobility managers’ of the future.

The traditional way of viewing fleet in terms of the management of assets (vehicles)is being phased out, as businesses start to develop a more flexible approach where staff are encouraged to use a variety of transport methods. In this model, the mode of transport for each journey is selected based on which is the most cost-effective, efficient and sustainable. For example, a bicycle might actually be a more efficient way for completing highly-concentrated jobs within a built-up, congested area.

For companies where fleet isn’t a core function, employees may be given a mobility budget that acts as a financial incentive encouraging them to travel in a more sustainable way. This would be a fixed monthly budget that an employee can use to pay for all travel costs, regardless of the travel mode used.

All of this is before even looking at the benefits telematics can deliver to individual motorists, rather than just businesses and at-work drivers.

Of course, the connectivity described above can also be used to help motorists connect their car with the world around them. Currently, this enables mobile apps like the parking space finder currently being piloted by TomTom, which provides drivers with the probability of finding an empty spot on any street at any time of day, as well as the average time it will take to find a spot. But in the future, cars might connect with devices at home to ensure, for example, that the heating is turned on in preparation for the user arriving home.

This new world of connectivity, based on the Internet of Things, looks set to create an even more exciting journey for telematics than the one it has already been on.

Beverley Wise
As Webfleet Regional Director UKI for Bridgestone Mobility Solutions, Beverley Wise has more than 20 years of experience in the automotive industry, primarily within the leasing sector. She firmly believes that being a decisive leader is key to delivering great success. She likes to innovate with her mantra of "Ask for forgiveness, not permission," helping to move businesses forward. She has a strong work ethic and strives to be the best she can be, which she likes to instil into teams she manages, being fair but firm with a high degree of empathy. Beverley has been with Webfleet overseeing UKI sales for six years, where she has seen several changes. She is passionate about the future of the automotive industry, believing that the transition to electric or alternative-fuelled vehicles is a real game changer.

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