Automotive Fleet recently surveyed commercial fleet managers about the challenges they face. One of the recurring themes was the issue of data overload and the potential of data paralysis.
“We get a great deal of data, but I find that sifting through some of that data is a challenge or I just do not have the time to sift through it all to make it useful,” said Kimberly Fisher, global manager, fleet & travel for National Oilwell Varco. “We continue to be asked to do more from our companies with less resources. There is such rich data and I feel that we are not applying it to achieve the best results in our fleet.”
But, what our survey found was that it wasn’t just an overwhelming volume of data that is affecting fleet managers, fleet managers are also struggling with how to extract actionable data.
“How can we get to the bottom line and use the information for a more productive and cost-effective fleet without going blind. How can we use the new data from in-vehicle modems to compliment other telematics data,” said Brenda Davis, global fleet category manager, indirect sourcing for Baker Hughes.
Tony Orta, fleet operations manager for SoCalGas echoed that sentiment.
“As fleets implement new systems to manage their fleets, there also needs to be a commitment to resources that includes staffing individuals who can extract pertinent data to manage the fleet through the use of metrics and KPIs,” said Orta. “There are countless number of fleets today that are under pressure by senior management to maximize the extraction and usage of key information that can achieve the ROI that was originally promised. This requires the need to have individuals who can efficiently extrapolate the right data and format that information in a useable format for effective decision-making by fleet managers.”
One source of confusion for companies looking to acquire and implement a telematics solution is the multiplicity of service providers who all promise similar or better results.
“There are so many fleet products and services that it becomes hard to decide what is important for your fleet,” said Eliot Bensel, vice president of account development at CEI Fleet Driver Management. “Key stakeholders need to ask difficult questions, such as: ‘How do we justify the initial investment to realize the ROI of a new initiative and make the fleet safer?’ ‘How does this program from one supplier strengthen our efforts with our main provider, and can we integrate the two?’ Taking a step back to see how a product or service will fit into the current ecosystem can often help inform how effective it will be in the fleet.”
This market confusion leads to the fundamental question of whether a corporate fleet wants to be an early adopter or a fast follower.
“There are more tools and services than ever, but as new technologies come along with promises to save lives, time, and money, fleets have to decide when they will choose to adopt the technology. Adopting new safety technologies early can be costly, but it will give your fleet a layer of protection if litigation does occur, because your fleet went above and beyond what your peers in the industry are doing,” said Bensel of CEI.
In the long-run, fleet managers acknowledge that the power of Big Data will make them increasingly dependent on the use of it to manage their assets and drivers.
“Can you still manage a fleet without understanding the insights that your fleet’s data can tell you? How well can a fleet manager function without some grounding and understanding of data, statistics, analytics, and the pitfalls of data manipulation? The leasing companies are strong in this area, but can you effectively manage something if you cannot understand how the solutions were derived; I submit that you cannot,” said Michael Bieger, global fleet manager for Catholic Relief Services.