Big Data is the hottest new catchphrase with the tech and fleet crowds. Our recent surveys indicate that most fleet managers love data and want more of it, but are unhappy with the data they are actually getting.
It doesn’t matter if the data is coming from a fleet management company, manufacturer, telematics provider, or fuel card issuer. The data never seems to be quite right. There is no shortage of information, to be sure, but it’s like the three little bears and their porridge, except there’s not one option that is just right.
The suppliers in the fleet market are totally committed to the Big Data mindset. I have overheard many CEOs talk about how they were going to position themselves as the thought leader, the technology leader, and the Big Data leader. But, the real challenge with Big Data is that it really is Big. And, there is lots and lots of it.
Some of the vehicles on the road today have as many as 50 microprocessors running at any given time. Those microprocessors are generating terabytes of data every hour. Then there is the telematics system. On top of that you’ve got fuel card data. And then there is any data generated by handheld devices brought into the vehicle. That’s a lot of information.
Fleet service providers think they know what’s important to you when they start sifting through the data. Obviously, you want to know if the engine oil is beyond its useful life, if the transmission is about to seize, or if the brakes are down to the rotors. But, what about all of the other data points? In talking with fleet managers across the country, representing a wide variety of industries and vehicle types, one thing is clear: There is no magic formula for distilling all that Big Data.
Most commercial and public sector fleets have developed a set of goals and measures for their fleet vehicles. Those goals are usually sent down from on high by someone in a big chair who has decided that achieving a certain mpg, or cutting some percentage of costs, or delivering some level of improvement in safety is paramount. And, it’s your job as a fleet manager to make sure your suppliers know what that measurement is. They may come to you with some great examples of what they are doing for Bob’s Landscaping and Julie’s Catering, but if no one in your office cares about those things, it’s really a bunch of useless information.
The best-run fleets today have fleet managers who can bridge the gap between what the fleet suppliers want to give you and what your senior management wants. That doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to potential money-saving ideas a supplier may bring you, but it does mean making sure they are able to be laser focused on the data points that really matter to you.
There are too many fleets in our market sitting on reams of data they don’t use because it’s either not important to them or no one has shown them why it might (or should) be important. Meanwhile, those same fleets are regularly complaining about how they can’t get some simple data they do want, such as being told right away when there is a serious recall. Or, being informed of what vehicles a recall affects and how quickly those vehicles can be made safe and put back out on the road.
Frankly, that might be more useful than being able to provide 8,000 examples of hard braking, hard acceleration, lane departures, and other transgressions by your drivers.
Embrace that Big Data everyone is sending your way. But, make sure the little data points you care about are included, highlighted, and noted for everyone to see. The information you need to run your fleet more efficiently is out there; it’s just a matter of putting it at your fingertips.
Related: 10 Strategies to Prevent Telematics Data Overload