Paul Hollick's blog: 1 December - Telematics - The fleet manager's dilemma
01 December 2015
Paul Hollick is the chairman of the ICFM.
A fleet manager's life is never simple but when it comes to selecting, deploying and managing telematics systems within their business I do see it as a real challenge.
The telematics market is such a fast moving and complex marketplace that each week another new development from a new entrant or an existing market player could mean a strategy changed or adapted or even having to go straight back to the drawing board.
And of course, it is not just hardware these days but software changes as well - as this space is frequently becoming more a "buy the hardware and then load the software" marketplace.
So with this topic a fleet manager really needs to do their homework. There is a vast array of suppliers and they can all do slightly differing things at differing costs - as such, the first real questions when looking at acquiring telematics should be "why do I need this equipment?", "what is it going to do for me?" and "what is my business case?"
A thoroughly researched and well implemented telematics system can deliver vast benefits to a business. The depth of insight and information gleaned really supports the ability to take well-informed decisions that in turn will save costs and improve efficiencies.
And savings can be pronounced, be they a cut in accident rates, reduction in speeding and other fines, increase in staff productivity, reduced insurance costs or other more less recognised savings, such as vehicle selection and the ability to spot some low carbon initiatives.
Yet, telematics is not the silver bullet and neither is it without its problems. Deployment can be a real issue - the buy-in from the staff is important (although arguably no one will ever want to be tracked unless they get some financial reward or they have to have it). Use of data is another issue.
Lots of fleets have plenty of data but don't distil it down into real information. Personally, another unrecognised area to think about is supplier selection.
Any telematics deployment is a long-term project and as such needs a long-term partner (note, not supplier) to work with. This partner needs to not only bring a great solution now but also over the five to ten years of working with them as closely as possible.
No fleet manager wants to change suppliers every 18 months - the costs would be enormous and then there could be a need to analyse data from multiple suppliers if you have more than one telematics partner. Simply, it just gets very messy.
My advice is keep it simple and work out why telematics is important for you and then really, intensely research the market to find the best partner to match your requirements. Also don't get too hung up on price. The hard part is choosing a best supplier to match your requirements not just for your current requirements but for your long-term ones too!
Turn your supplier into a partner and it will be a breeze I'm sure!