09 June 2017

Big Data and Fleet Technology  

Vehicles and new technology are often thought of as having a close relationship. The latest models are usually stocked full of new gadgets, designed to improve safety, offer more entertainment or help with navigation.  

But the truth is that vehicle manufacturers have lagged behind the IT industry for some time. The latest advancements in in-car technology are usually improvements that have previously been offered through mobile devices and other forms of tech.  

Of course there are good reasons for this. For starters, technology has to be rugged and safe enough to operate in a moving vehicle. And then there’s integration. Some vehicles offer the functionality to allow drivers to access smartphone apps through the vehicle’s controls, but development cycles are far behind those in the IT industry and therefore limit what the mobile device can offer.  

Smartphone-type mobile devices are not only extremely powerful but also incredibly flexible. Their connectivity also means they offer easy integration with other systems outside of the vehicle.   So how can fleet managers get the combination of real-time visibility, GPS tracking, Electronic Proof of Delivery (EPOD) and telematics data that they are looking for in order to reap the strategic and operational benefits that the latest technology can provide?  

The Big Data revolution  

Telematics functionality and affordability has developed at a huge rate, to the extent that it is no longer just the tool of the large field-service fleet or utility company fleet manager.  

Once associated with expensive, bespoke hardware, it is increasingly moving to web-based apps available on smartphones and other mobile devices.  

The technology in use today puts a huge amount of data at the fingertips of fleet managers. So much so, that the systems that process the data and giving meaningful insight to managers have to be implemented correctly.   Many fleet managers are looking for ‘push’ style notifications that clearly show them what they need to know in a common format for all vehicles on the fleet, not bury them in data, most of which is unimportant and difficult to decipher.   They are also going to need clear procedures for acting on that information where necessary. But the bottom line is that correctly set up systems can help improver scheduling, maximise vehicle performance and provide a real-time view of drivers and vehicles – all while dramatically reducing paper-based records.  

‘Big Data’ has to be good news for fleet managers, As well as enabling them to perform their duties more efficiently, it also means they can become more strategic in their role. They can be more pro-active in dealing with issues around vehicles and drivers before they become major problems, and have far more influence on the total cost, safety and efficiency of the fleet.  

Driving forward  

It’s expected that business models within fleet industries are likely to be re-shaped by the magnitude of customer, driver and vehicle data that has emerged in recent years.   Almost all aspects of fleet management can be improved through the data collected, from vehicle component sensors that can identify levels of wear and tear and enable remote diagnostics and preventative alerts, to apps and telematics that generate the driver data required to develop a much closer relationship with customers.  

If it is handled correctly, this data will enable companies to innovate by delivering a better customer experience rather than relying on introducing new and better products. But this information will come in an incredible volume and it will need to be stored, processed and analysed in the right context.   Of course, collecting data is one thing, but efficiently identifying actionable insight is another. It’s crucial to avoid a situation where time is lost wading through spreadsheets when better processes could be put in place.  

So, what does a good Big Data analysis tool for fleet managers look like?   When selecting a new solution, some of the key considerations for fleet managers are:  

  • How is the data displayed?
  • Is it in easy to digest graphics and charts?
  • Is data displayed in real-time?
  • Can I get reports automatically sent to me on a daily basis?
  • Are the reports accessible on multiple devices, including mobile?
  • Am I able to easily share reports with staff members?
  • Can I create custom filters and views to unlock the value in my data?
  • How does it integrate with other systems?  

Conclusion  

The key will be implementing a system that easily allows managers to gain visibility over their fleets, and allows them to make changes – big or small – based on real-time information. Fleets managers have proven to be early adopters of new technology in order to help them complete their jobs more efficiently and with greater accuracy.   However, it is rapidly turning into a situation where the technology is presenting so much data to fleet managers that the real challenge is analysing and understanding the data so that improvements can be made quickly, helping drivers to do their jobs better and ultimately providing a better service to the customer.   Fleet managers’ knowledge and expertise is now pushing the Big Data revolution ahead as they have identified the strategic and operational benefits that real-time visibility can offer.   If the fleet and logistics sectors can harness the power of Big Data, the opportunities to improve efficiency, tracking, accuracy and safety are potentially boundless.


Big Data and Fleet Technology

Big Data and Fleet Technology

09 June 2017

Vehicles and new technology are often thought of as having a close relationship. The latest models are usually stocked full of new gadgets, designed to improve safety, offer more entertainment or help with navigation.   But the truth is that vehicle manufacturers have lagged behind the IT industry for some time. The latest advancements in in-car technology are usually improvements that have previously been offered through mobile devices and other forms of tech.    Read More >>