1 Dec 22

Revealed at IFMI Connected: How to buy and apply connected technology for your fleet

The fourth session of the International Fleet Managers Intitute on Fleet Connetivity (IFMI Connected) took place on 1 December as a virtual gathering under the moderation of Fleet Europe Editor-in-Chief Steven Schoefs (top right in the main image). The learning session was a gem for the international fleet managers who joined, as the industry experts shared all the critical tips for buying and utilising telematics and this within a framework in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

The last edition of IFMI Connected in 2022 put an essential topic on the table, with the theme "Buying Connected Technology." Sponsored by Arval, Geotab, MiX Telematics and OviDrive, this IFMI Connected session covered three chapters with the contribution of Alan Johnson, Global Bid Manager at MiX Telematics (middle bottom); Guillaume Pin, Procurement Manager Feet Europe at Ecolab (bottom right); Markus Busch, Product Solutions Manager Nordics, Central and Eastern Europe at Geotab (middle top); Harald Horn, Solutions Specialists at Geotab (bottom left); and Rémi Brebant, Senior Product Manager at Arval (top left). 

Ask the right questions for your business 

While the time is changing from Request for Information (RFI) to Request for Quotation (RFQ), Alan Johnson of MiX Telematics underlines the importance of asking the right questions to vendors and working with them in the telematics process. Applying the software and hardware in telematics is pointless without these questions, as fleets need to ensure: 

  • How to integrate telematics, by who,
  • Clearly understanding the data gathered, 
  • Ensuring vehicle compatibility with telematics solutions, 
  • Complying with privacy regulations. 

For Mr Johnson, it is vital to include the broader team in the process, as the decision makers of high-value purchases in the B2B environment are on the rise and have reached an average of 6.8 people. Of course, integrating telematics is an arduous process for every fleet. But, it has to be completed in a particular amount of time to achieve results. For Johnson, the optimum time period is between 6 to 9 months and shall be, at most, 12 months. 

"Start with small steps" 

Guillaume Pin of Ecolab, one of the finalists of the Fleet Europe Awards 2022, shared his tips on applying telematics. Today 50% of the Ecolab fleet in Europe is equipped with 'light telematics' as Mr Pin called it. The use of telematics at Ecolab fits into the Safety Programme of the company. Asking about results, Mr Pin mentioned that the telematics technology helped reducing collisions of the Iberian fleet of Ecolab by 50%. 

Guillaume Pin and Ecolab started the telematics programme in 2017 and he said, "you shall downsize the steps in front of you if they're too big." This approach has the strategy of starting from the country where the integration process would be easiest than moving to other geographies. 

Guillaume Pin believes the telematics industry is ready to provide solutions, but the fleets are underusing "what is right there for us." Corporations must make a move at this point, and all departments must come together to make the best decisions in the process. 

If you don't need GPS, don't use it 

Regarding telematics, the privacy concern is showing itself like the tip of Mt. Everest in the whole picture. As data is the skeleton of telematics, which is the skeleton for sustainability, safety and efficiency for fleets, it is no surprise that the concerns over privacy increase. 

Three experts from Geotab and Arval explained how data should be used and managed and what options are to address privacy concerns. 

Fleets must be sure which data they need for their operations and which they don't need. For instance, you don't need GPS to improve safety but to monitor field activity. Experts say the fleet manager as the data controller, the telematics provider as the data processor and the legal teams must fulfil six steps in this process. One of the critical steps is the retention period of the data. For every single piece of data, this period must be determined. Another is being fully transparent with the drivers. 

To better handle countless data points, one new approach is the "restricted data mode." In this mode, drivers' personal information is held on the gateway server and not sent to the customer database. Gateway servers represent the initial processing capacity, where all the data are gathered. 

Authored by: Mufit Yilmaz Gokmen