11 Oct 21

Connected data, the prerequisite for Corporate Mobility

You will have noticed that not everyone in the office has their own dedicated printer; these are shared amongst multiple employees, located where these employees can access them easily. Printer providers can calculate exactly how many printers are required and how much paper and cartridges need to be provided per time unit. How they achieve this? Simply, because printers are connected, and utilisation data are readily available. So, if optimizing utilization is possible for printers, why not for company cars?

Complex asset, complex connectivity

Utilization and driver profiling sit front and center of contemporary fleet & mobility management. In the ideal world, we know exactly “how much” car, train, or bicycle any employee needs at any point in time. Akin the printer example, it means that data need to be collected and analysed. And this is where connectivity comes in. Connectivity – as a generic term – refers to the ability to collect live data directly from a variety of sources. These data land in a central database where, combined, they deliver unique insight when analytics are applied. Here are a few models.

Aggregated model (level 1)

In this model, a relatively small number of anonymized datapoints is collected from a limited number of employees, for a limited time. Basic tech solutions, such as an OBDII plug-in, can do the trick. It’s even possible to record these data in logbooks, but that’s at the risk of quantity (a large enough sample of employees) and quality (recording the correct data). Examples of datapoints are:

  • Live mileage of the vehicles at any point in time
  • Private / Commuting / Business usage
  • Start and end point of each business trip

Analytics can deliver sufficient profiling to know, companywide,  how many assets can be shared, and which trips can be replaced by mobility solutions. It however does not go deep enough to decide what the best options might be on employee level.

The aggregated model is perfect for 3 types of purpose. First, to discover the potential success ratio of mobility implementation, electrification, car sharing… Next, to deliver assumptions on which vendors need to be included in a mobility transition. Finally, the aggregated model assesses the benefits of connectivity itself, and might trigger the transition to the next level.

Individual model (level 2)

Rather than looking companywide, this model captures each employee individually, with the objective to tailor the solutions to their needs. This is more complex than the aggregated model, as it scales up to all employees, rather than a sample, and requires continuous analytics, as employee needs are dynamic.

Consequently, the connectivity infrastructure is more extensive and covers both assets and people. This implies telematics or similar for the vehicles, and a mobile phone app for the employees. Data are no longer anonymized and aggregated, but personalized. As per GDPR, this does not mean however that private data become public; the employee is still shielded from exposure. Compare this with your google search history: your personal experience is tailored based on your previous searches, but individual search data (“this person has been searching for that”) are not public.

Although the individual model is more complex, it solves many issues, the main one being the ability to build the “right” mobility program with higher uptake and success, as opposed to a “generic” mobility program.

It also tackles the biggest mobility myth, which is about delivering “as many options as possible to the employee.” The aggregated model delivers many options, whilst the individual model delivers the right options.

Integrated model (level 3)

There is no reason to limit connectivity to fleet and mobility. Once one has understood how to cross-reference and analyse databases, and once the software has been implemented, there are no boundaries to the benefits of connectivity. An example.

The implementation of flexible workspace implies that savings can be generated on the number of square meters of office space; there is no longer a need to provide a seat for every employee. Many employers are looking into a combination of an office for interaction between employees, home office and, optionally, flexible office space. Combining workspace data with fleet and mobility data, delivers benefits on both sides.

What to do now?

The message is clear: connectivity is coming our way. GDPR doesn’t make it easier but should not be used as an excuse not to implement at all; employees need to be protected against abuse, but can also benefit from connectivity.

The first step? Professionalize your internal database. If you’re still using spreadsheets, it’s high time to consolidate your data into one of the many digital data tools available right now. Next step? Connect your database; automate data integration, upload invoices and reporting. Third step: make it dynamic and collect data directly from the source. Even if telematics and connectivity are not on the agenda for 2021, prepare yourself to implement connectivity solutions within the next few years.

Discover more about Connected Technology and How it benefits your strategy in the recent Fleet Europe publication

If you would like to discuss the bridge between Connectivity and Corporate Mobility, join the Fleet Europe Summit on 9 and 10 November in Brussels, where both topics colour the agenda. 

Authored by: Steven Schoefs