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The possibilities and challenges IoT brings to fleet management (part 2)

The possibilities and challenges IoT brings to fleet management (part 2)
The Internet of Things (IoT ) has touched almost every industry, including fleet management. By better connecting different systems and solutions, the IoT is helping to make fleet management solutions more efficient and effective.

However, the new opportunities presented by the IoT do not come without challenges. In the field of fleet management, the large number of vehicles needing to be managed is a challenge in itself. From keeping track of vehicles to tracking fuel consumption and logging driver times, fleet management is riddled with intricacies that require close monitoring. This produces a large amount of data that is often left unused. “The operators typically have a lot of data already; however, it’s not being used in a way that maximizes the added business value,” Patrik Axelsson, CTO of Axelerate Solutions said.

According to Theresa Revon, Head of Enterprise Product Marketing at Cisco Jasper, there are three major challenges regarding data in fleet management: making it understandable, integrating it into multiple systems and making it actionable. “The companies who get the most out of their data seem to be those who have invested in data visualization solutions to help them explain and disseminate the data internally,” she said.

To achieve the most business value from big data, it needs to be integrated into companies’ business processes and existing IT systems, according to Revon. “A key challenge is companies are now getting structured and non-structured data derived from different sources. Operations teams who either invest in data analytics resources and expertise or partner with IT teams who can provide that expertise have proven the most successful in pulling and retrieving data that is usable.”

Another problem is that fleet management operators focus too much on individual asset information rather than dashboards that provide an overall picture of the fleet status, according to Axelsson. “When you see the big picture you can set up KPIs and start optimizing your business immediately.”

Companies such as Telefonica have been working on how big data can transform customers’ business for the last two years. “A good example is how we are helping rent-a-car customers to monetize the data coming from their vehicles. If we take into account the thousands of vehicles any rent-a-car has, without big data, the management of the data coming from the vehicles would be almost impossible,” Jose Carames, IoT Smart Mobility Director at Telefonica said.

Possibilities of the IoT and big data
The most interesting thing about the IoT and big data are the possibilities they open up to different industries. Companies see the IoT and big data having a major impact on the future of fleet management and its solutions.

“The IoT and big data will continue to have a great impact on fleet management. This isn’t something new, but I think that a lot of companies have underestimated the value in their data,” Axelsson said. “They used to present it as it was generated (e.g., telling the driver that ‘this is your current speed’), which provides no value to the driver whatsoever. Now they can start to analyze the data in a manner that actually provides real value to the driver, such as, ‘if you lower your speed by 5 mph you’ll save 2 percent on fuel and you’ll still arrive at the same time because there’s a traffic jam coming,’” Axelsson said.

Others have expectations of better connectivity and more automation. “IoT and big data in fleet management is the path to more autonomous vehicles, starting already with trucks platooning, and moving forward with fully autonomous vehicles which will increase safety,” Benoît Tournier, Director of Marketing for Transportation at Sierra Wireless said.

Carames expects that “in such a changing environment like the connected car, big data will play a key role, as more technology is introduced in vehicles by OEMs, managing all this set of data coming from the vehicle, we require enhanced capabilities to manage the data.” In addition, he believes that security will take a predominant role, and the IoT is key to detect, respond and prevent security attacks.

Shifting business models to a trucking-as-a-service model for fleet management is one of the possibilities Revon sees for the IoT. “IoT is really about enabling the servitization of things where manufacturers harness the power of data generated by their machines to sell ongoing advanced services based on outcomes. In the world of fleet, instead of an operator owning a truck, they would be able to utilize trucks on a pay-per-use model.” She gave an example of a company in the U.K. who is already piloting this concept. “The company, MAN Truck and Bus, owns the truck and uses telematics and digital connectivity to manage the risk and maintenance of the truck; the fleet operator is responsible for the fuel and driver costs,” Revon said.

Based on these opinions, the impact that the IoT and big data has already had on fleet management has changed the way fleet managers are running operations. As time goes on and the IoT and big data are further intermingled, fleet management solutions are bound to only increase operational efficiency and effectiveness to new levels beyond what was ever imagined before.

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