Above and beyond geolocation, new and updated processes — including electrification, generative AI, autonomous technology, and remote operations — require a connected fleet. - Photo: Automotive Fleet

Above and beyond geolocation, new and updated processes — including electrification, generative AI, autonomous technology, and remote operations — require a connected fleet.

Photo: Automotive Fleet 

Are you still resisting installing a telematics system in your fleet?

You might be pushing back because you see your drivers as family. You trust them, so you don’t think they need to be tracked. You might cite the driver shortage — your pool of eligible driver applicants would shrink by the number of applicants who’d have a Big Brother reaction to telematics. Or that telematics systems don’t return an adequate ROI.  

If your drivers are like my family, you’d want to track them. Yes, I’m joking (mostly). But ask any fleet operator who had maintained that “family” ideal and talk to them after they’d installed telematics and gained actual visibility into their drivers’ actions.

Applicants declining a job because they don’t want to be tracked should make you think they aren’t suitable. And whether a system is worth the money, the percentage of fleets that install one and then abandon telematics entirely is very low, according to Clem Driscoll’s latest survey of telematics in fleets.

Driscoll’s survey also finds that geolocation — knowing where your workers are — is still the number one reason to employ telematics. But there are many more reasons to be connected today.  

Connectivity Accelerates

The pandemic changed how we conduct business and caused the accelerated adoption of technology, the growth of e-commerce, a rethinking of the supply chain, and expanded options to work remotely. Those trends depend on connectivity.

Tech buzz acronyms like IoT and AI also rely on connectivity. Generative AI (like ChatGPT) has untapped promise to shorten processes and alleviate staff hours. If these applications involve fleets, connectivity is intrinsic.

An electrified fleet depends on connectivity to manage the state of charge and charging, along with vehicle and driver performance. Even if you’re not yet into EVs but are looking for ways to lower your fleet’s carbon emissions, the task is much easier with a connected fleet.

These needs will only intensify as stricter emissions regulations arise and organizations ratchet their decarbonization efforts.

New systems in which the vehicle is a payment device (replacing a fleet fuel card) rely on connectivity, as does usage-based insurance. And as vehicles begin their slow path to autonomy, they’ll also need to be connected.

Your top salesperson may initially resist being tracked, but she may appreciate how location mixed with customer data can better define her most profitable stops. Data tied to location can connect customers, warehouses, stores, job sites, and workers, creating greater efficiencies and uncovering new revenue streams.

Transparency and Insights Essential

Consider the issues affecting your fleet — including record-high new vehicle prices, continued supply chain disruptions, and driver and technician shortages, compounded by macro issues such as expanding labor unrest, a recurring government shutdown threat — and the constant risk of a recession.

Meanwhile, fatalities per vehicle miles traveled have spiked after the pandemic. Preventing one fatality — or one nuclear verdict — is incumbent on fleet operators who now have more tools to prevent them.

Black Swan events? We’ve almost come to expect them. This uncertain future necessitates as much transparency and insight into your business as possible.

We are a digital and connected society, and that interconnectedness is only intensifying. Declining to harness the power of connectivity is a disservice to the organization.

So yes, it’s time to get connected if you aren’t already.

About the author
Chris Brown

Chris Brown

Associate Publisher

As associate publisher of Automotive Fleet, Auto Rental News, and Fleet Forward, Chris Brown covers all aspects of fleets, transportation, and mobility.

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