Focus on Telematics Goals for Greater ROI
It’s been said before, yet the message bears repeating: Telematics is no longer just GPS tracking and vehicle routing. However, with so many options at a fleet manager’s fingertips, how do fleet managers select the right program, the best provider, and ensure a company achieves a return on its investment? According to the telematics industry experts, it all boils down to one simple directive: focus on the company’s goals.
Each fleet has differing needs, requiring unique approaches to achieve desired results. Focusing on the end goal of what a company requires from its investment in telematics will lead fleet managers through the path of least resistance when instituting a new program or modifying an existing one.
Identifying the Many Known (& Unknown) Benefits of Telematics
The benefits of telematics are common knowledge, including increased fuel savings, more efficient vehicle tracking and routing, and the ability to set geofencing parameters.
However, due to the growing needs of fleets around the country, telematics programs are evolving to encompass driver safety, increased employee productivity and efficiency, route compliance, and improved customer service, among others.
Driver safety is one recurring theme noted by several telematics providers.
“The age-old challenge with the mobile workforce is that you simply can’t get enough visibility into their day to provide meaningful feedback to drivers,” noted Karen White, senior vice president of Customer Solutions for GreenRoad. “How safely a driver arrived at a destination isn’t measured just by whether the driver crashed or arrived safely; we measure it maneuver by maneuver, every mile, based on forces exerted in the cab.”
According to White, with the aid of technology, you can overcome the mobile workforce dilemma and gain insight into how a driver is doing his or her job without being in the passenger seat.
“Having a device in a vehicle, acting as a coach, instantly helps drivers become more cautious on the roads,” agreed Todd Follmer, CEO of inthinc Technology Solutions, Inc.
“Safety is also of paramount importance to an organization, and it’s two- tiered: employee safety and the duty to ensure the safe operation of a vehicle on public roads,” according to Angela Vanek, project lead for Strategic Accounts at SageQuest, a branded offering of Fleetmatics.
One factor not typically connected with telematics is improved customer service. Again, while not a new feature, fleets are utilizing this aspect of their telematics programs in a new way.
“Our program clearly shows the closest driver to dispatch to a needed location. This can help validate service, helping verify that service was done. It can also help improve the response time to customers,” according to Todd Lewis, president of GPS North America.
This is especially key for emergency- or disaster-response situations, where immediate assistance can make a huge difference.
Telematics can also assist with compliance issues, including corporate policies, hours-of-service requirements, and seat belt laws, among others.
Finally, in the age of more available reports than minutes in a day, telematics can help take big data and make it useful.
“Fleets often have different sets of information. By integrating GPS data with fuel card usage and miles driven, you can get intelligent reports and insight into your business that can really drive savings,” according to Mark Wallin, VP of product management for Telogis. “Fleet managers need to be able to take all of this data and make it actionable.”
Time is definitely a concern for already busy fleet managers. “Managers typically think they are too busy to embark on yet another new project, swimming in data they don’t have the bandwidth to use,” White noted. “That’s why GreenRoad’s mantra is ‘Data into action.’ We focus on not just providing data, but on exception-based management that makes it truly actionable, with minimal effort.”
Follmer of inthinc also believes that improved driver efficiency is an up-and-coming benefit of vehicle telematics. “Managers are able to monitor performance, study trends, and identify areas of weakness in their fleets,” he noted.