16 Mar 20

A look at the connected future

Connectivity is profoundly changing the way we operate fleets and optimise mobility. But what will all that change add up to? We asked five industry experts to look ahead into the connected future of fleet and mobility management.

Full electrification is many years away, and full autonomy may take decades to arrive. Full connectivity will be with us much sooner. Global estimates range from 100 to more than 300 million connected vehicles today. Those numbers are rising fast.

Why? Because turning vehicles into data fountains is relatively cheap and easy. And telematics, whether in-built by the OEM or installed as plug-and-play device on the aftermarket, has potentially huge cost and efficiency benefits.

With the rush towards connectivity definitely on, telematics will bring not just optimisation, but also transformation. In four questions and multiple answers, here’s how to make that work for you.

What’s the most important change that connectivity is bringing to fleet and mobility management?

Edwin Maria Colella (Chief Marketing Officer at Octo) sees a slew of interconnected improvements: “More efficiency, new business models with additional revenue, greater safety and better driver relationship management.”

For Israel Duanis (co-founder and CEO at Fleetonomy), it’s both efficiency and personalisation: “What we’ve learned from our customers is that a deep understanding of your demand and of your customers’ needs is key to establishing successful smart mobility services.”

Data is the “new oxygen” of fleet and mobility management, says Edward Kulperger (SVP Europe at Geotab). “True mobility is not possible without connectivity. Data is the enabler in smart city initiatives and new forms of multi-modal mobility. Data and connectivity will continue to be the lifeline of fleets and business innovation.”

Damian Penney (VP for Europe at video telematics specialist Lytx) opts for ”increased visibility” as the key change: “With enhanced connectivity, fleets can harness the power of video to see what happened in the past, manage their operations more efficiently in the present and improve driver behaviour in the future.”

Nicola De Mattia (CEO at Targa Telematics), sees “connectivity facilitating a deeper integration between the various services supporting mobility. This will refocus fleet management from managing hardware to providing mobility services.”

Which opportunities does connectivity present to fleet and mobility managers?

“The more data there is to leverage, and the more vehicles are connected, means operators can become more efficient in addressing repairs, charging, fuelling, etcetera,” says Mr Duanis.

“Connectivity means efficiency, which means fleet and mobility managers will be better able to deliver safety, security and satisfaction,” says Mr De Mattia. “It also means mobility will fit better with the company’s core business. And it will provide many cost-cutting opportunities.”

“Fleet managers want simplicity, but not at the expense of quality and performance,” adds Mr Penney. They depend on providers like his company to crunch the data and deliver the actionable intelligence.

One specific area where connectivity will be useful, is electrification, says Mr Kulperger. “Organisations require evidence-based insights to help them acquire EVs where they make sense. We can leverage current fleet data to assess whether today’s EV offer meets a fleet’s requirements.”

From a holistic point of view, “connectivity presents opportunities to assess the real utilisation of vehicles and the real needs and usage habits of individual drivers,” says Mr Colella. “This gives fleet managers a comprehensive and multi-dimensional view of mobility needs and the assets they are managing.”

What are the dangers and difficulties that connectivity brings?

Obviously, cybersecurity is an issue, says Mr De Mattia: “Cyberattacks are already happening, across the IoT industry. The advent of 5G will create more opportunities for bad guys, but also better encryption. So, it’s a matter of following best practices. We, for example, guarantee that our products resist any penetration test.”

The danger is not just security breaches – data theft – but also unauthorised entry to the vehicles themselves, and the various additional services connected to the vehicle, says Mr Duanis. “Given that security is sometimes an afterthought for connected cars, it makes them an easy target for hackers.”

Connectivity implies a huge amount of data, potentially from various sources. “That needs to be analysed and offered in one homogenous dataset for the fleet manager,” says Mr Colella. The result must be: “Not just smart analytics, but smart actionable analytics.”

“There is a perception that vehicle-generated data is not private, but this is a bit of a ‘phantom menace’,” says Mr Kulperger. “Privacy and personal mode can be established, and this appeases various data regulations, including GDPR.”

“As market adoption of video telematics has grown, we’re seeing an increase in providers entering the market that overpromise and underdeliver, and we believe they can do more harm than good” says Mr. Penney. “To overcome this risk, it’s important to look for a provider that’s actively deploying advanced machine vision and artificial intelligence to more fully and accurately capture and identify risk for fleets and provide a superior and accurate view of risk.”

How will connectivity change the job of fleet and mobility managers?

“The role of fleet managers is changing well beyond the management of traditional metrics such as safety, productivity and compliance,” Mr Kulperger opines.

“The fleet manager’s responsibilities will continue transitioning from reactive to proactive,” predicts Mr Penney.

“With more opportunities to extract value from fleets, fleet managers will move from purely operational matters and manual processes to strategic decision making,” according to Mr Colella.

“We can expect a shift from focusing on multitasking challenges to focusing on identifying the right insights in real time,” agrees Mr Duanis. “this shift will require an entirely new set of tools and expertise.”

“Connectivity will allow the integration of various ways of mobility. Fleet managers will be the guarantee that their company offers the best possible multimodal combination,” Mr De Mattia concludes.

Image copyright: Shutterstock

Authored by: Frank Jacobs