Data is driving fleet decisions more than ever. Whether it’s big data or small data, fleet management is becoming less of an art every day and more of a science. The largest fleet suppliers (vehicle manufacturers, fleet management companies, and telematics providers) are all embracing data and working 24/7 to capture more of it, sift through it, and provide fleet decision makers with the tools they need to manage a fleet more efficiently.

Our most recent surveys indicate that about 60% of the fleet market is using a fleet management company. The number has been increasing steadily over the years driven by the development of new services as well as the continued push by most large corporations to outsource wherever possible in order to reduce headcount. We’re expecting the number to climb to over 80% over the next several years.

One area that has seen significant growth is telematics. Surprisingly our surveys show that only 30-40% of the fleet market is using a telematics product at this time. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where a fleet could justify not using a telematics provider. The old reasons for resistance just don’t apply. Drivers aren’t so worried about Big Brother watching them anymore. They expect it. The painful aftermarket installation process is mostly a thing of the past too. We’ve got easy to plug in OBD2 products along with systems that can seamlessly integrate with built in factory modems. We even have factory supplied systems now that eliminate the need for any sort of aftermarket products.

The most common objection we see now to adopting a telematics system is cost. It’s a legitimate concern for most fleets. Buying 1,000 or 10,000 of anything results in a big expense. But you don’t need to torture the numbers to realize that tracking your fleet is one of the best investments you can make. The payoff for most is close to immediate. And I have yet to talk with a fleet that regrets implementing a telematics program.

As with most fleet decisions, this comes down to a cost benefit analysis. The difference with this category is that the benefits outweigh the costs so much that it’s not a fair fight. And the benefits will continue to grow over time. The first generation telematics systems did a great job of providing dots on a map, letting you know where your vehicles were, and providing some basic routing assistance when necessary. The current generation provides all that plus vehicle diagnostic data, driver behavior data, and there appears to be more to come. Video, both in cab and forward facing, will soon be part of the package. Driver data that can seamlessly integrate with your safety program is coming too. The future will probably include services that we haven’t even thought of yet; services that will make your fleet safer, more efficient, and more productive.

If you are looking for one thing to do this year to make your fleet more efficient, you would be hard pressed to find a better option than installing a telematics solution. If you do install one and find yourself regretting the decision down the line, please drop me a note. I’m still waiting to hear from that mythical fleet that didn’t get a positive ROI.

If you disagree, let me know.

About the author
Sherb Brown

Sherb Brown


Sherb Brown is the former president of Bobit Business Media. Sherb has covered the auto industry for more than 20 years in various positions with the world's largest fleet publisher.

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