Nicola Veratelli, Octo: “We need to enable a better life for connected people”
In September of last year, Nicola Veratelli was appointed CEO of automotive insurance telematics, fleet telematics and IoT analytics service provider Octo Group. With his professional background at car rental and mobility giant Hertz, he is ideally placed to steer Octo Group towards global fleet excellence and expansion.
Octo was founded in Italy in 2002 to market a technology that allows insurance companies to charge insurance premiums based on people’s real driving behaviour. Today, the company is the world's largest telematics and data analytics service provider for the car insurance industry. It plays a leading role in advanced analytics and IoT-driven services to serve the mobility ecosystem.
But what exactly does that mean? “It all starts with a little box. We build a telematics device that can monitor virtually everything in and around cars, making them connected and ready for shared use, like opening the door with your smartphone,” says Nicola Veratelli. “The interesting thing is not the telematics box itself, but the algorithms and capabilities behind it, the brains. You can record everything you want, but we make the data useable. Our algorithm is AI-based and has an unrivalled accuracy because it is built on 18 years and 260 billion miles of data. That is unique. And the beauty is that we work modularly, so customers can choose the parts they need for their business and even build their own platform around it.”
While the company's technology can be used for a vast range of applications, the bulk of Octo customers are vehicle-related. “Today, about 6 million cars are connected to our platform. Our expertise started with connected cars but mobility spans a lot wider. From bikes, motorbikes, cars to trucks. So while our expertise is in the world of cars now, we are expanding to the entire mobility space.”
Octo's CEO has a clear vision for the company's growth by investing in mobility solutions: “The mobility of the future is described by the acronym 'CASE': Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric. Octo wants to enable mobility through the C and the S, with a strong focus on the Connected part.” For Mr Veratelli, this means more than just cars connected to the internet. He sees the Octo services as a way to enable a better life for people. “Our vision is that of the three zero's: zero accidents, zero congestion and zero pollution.”
Why choose Octo?
Given its experience, Octo has a unique position. “The savings you can realise by using telematics are significant. You can go two ways: build your own platform and algorithm or buy them. In order to get to the same level of experience as Octo, you will need to invest a lot of money and time. Alternatively, you buy a system like ours and start saving money right away. By not using telematics, you leave a lot of money on the table. Some companies understand this, others need education about what they are missing. I want people to understand what they can gain. Once they know, they will adopt the system. They start to earn money straight away.”
While Octo started in Italy and grew to massive proportions there and in the rest of Europe, it also has a strong base in the US. The company has grown exponentially over the last years and is aiming to keep growing internationally, both organically and through mergers and acquisitions.
One of the expansion movements of Octo was the acquisition of Nebula. “The technology Nebula has, grants access to data buried deep in the car, in the ECU. This helps Octo go further in developing telematics systems and mobility solutions. We don't have to reverse engineer every car we deal with. Nebula gives us access to the largest vehicle database in the world and we can now collect the relevant diagnostics data directly from the DNA of the car. This means that what we do, doesn't interfere with the car, which working with a CAN bus method could do.”
“Our global presence and operational capability mean we can react fast and cater to even the biggest companies. And just like our technology, our approach is also modular: you can ask us for a 360° approach, or just a specific part.”
Who are Octo's customers?
Octo's customers are very diverse: insurance companies, rental and leasing companies and fleet owners, as well as car manufacturers. But governments and cities are also part of the growing customer base. They can use Octo technology for emissions-linked taxation and city access.
“Our applications cater to different audiences with different needs. With our telematics box, we can please our customers like leasing and rental and insurance companies, but also the end user. For example, the box we produce has wifi. As the end user, you can have your children use wifi to play. But it also provides live car data and maintenance information to fleet managers. This means you can send drivers a message when the car needs an oil change. This helps with residual values because the vehicle is maintained properly and you can show the vehicle has been properly driven. Residual values are very important and Octo technology helps improve them. Advanced theft protection and tracking also solves the financial burden of car theft.”
“For short-term rental companies, we have a system that simplifies the whole drop-off process, with automatic damage assessment, exact fuel levels and so on. This allows companies to have an exact procedure to determine costs they should invoice to their customers. This high level of efficiency is unique and saves them a lot of money when you look at the scale of their operations.”
To conclude, we asked Octo CEO Nicola Veratelli about the next big thing in mobility. His answer shows he dreams of seamless integration. “We moved from horses to cars. Now we are moving from cars into travelling from A to B regardless of the way how. My dream is that you have everything mobility-related in one app. The app should take care of the best way to get from point A to point B and enable the journey using nothing but the app itself. From shared cars and taxis over public transport and planes, to even checking into your hotel room. These bits and pieces are available, but there is not one app that combines all of these. That is something that will enable people move faster and incentivise thinking about how they travel.”
“Another dream of mine is to have one device in the car, and one at home. And with both you are fully connected to whatever you need to be connected to. In the car, this device should take care of the total mobility component. Nowadays, you often have a different piece of technology for tolls, insurance, scoring, wifi, fleet management... In the not so distant future, I want this all to be combined in one device.”