The connected fleet – key business predictions for 2017

Fleet-based businesses will begin to take advantage of emerging technologies such as AI and IoT.

(Image: © Image Credit: Moon Light PhotoStudio / Shutterstock)

It is fair to say that 2016 was an interesting year for businesses in the UK. But despite fluctuations in the economy, business confidence is in a healthy state. Political and economic ambiguity will continue in 2017 and companies will be looking to innovate to remain one step ahead of competitors during this difficult time. With this in mind, what does 2017 hold for fleet-based businesses across the UK? From autonomous vehicles to IoT solutions, here are our top themes and technologies that will occupy the boardroom this year: 

Fleets will hedge their bets with IoT solutions 

The Internet of Things (IoT) is still in its infancy, but as innovative companies start looking for more connectivity across their supply chain and operations, adoption will rise. Drivers are already using their smartphones and the IoT to improve the use of key assets such as plants, cranes and trailers to full advantage. For example, our Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) technology uses IoT sensors around a vehicle and a tailored smartphone app to make sure compliance checks have been made. 

By harnessing the IoT, Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) will also gain pace, as fleets will be able to intelligently communicate with regional infrastructure in real time. Using this technology, drivers can receive useful updates about the likes of parking availability and roadworks to weather conditions. Advancements like this will have a major role to play in the development of smart cities.   

Mobile Resource Management will overtake telematics   

Telematics combines a GPS system with on-board diagnostics to support vehicle efficiency, driver communication and safety. This helps a business make savings on operational costs and supports drivers as they navigate the roads safely. In 2017, telematics will continue to save businesses money, but there is a new technology that threatens to blow traditional telematics out of the water - Mobile Resource Management, otherwise known as MRM. 

Almost everyone owns and regularly uses a smartphone, both for work and play. This creates an opportunity as devices, workers and assets are now mobile and connected in an extremely powerful way – a far cry from the simple GPS link that old telematics hardware uses. Combined with the fact that more and more organisations are becoming experienced at using technologies such as cloud and big data to harness insights from this mobility, these two technologies, plus the power and mobility of the smartphone will deliver incomparable insights into end to end operations.   

MRM technology will surpass traditional telematics to deliver detailed driver, planning, navigation, routing and compliance data, as well as being able to use the power of the IoT. Forward thinking organisations that embrace MRM in 2017 will experience significant operational savings. 

Fleets will integrate closer with AI   

AI technology is starting to influence how fleets operate. The aviation industry now has trucks with moving lifts and mechanical components that function self-sufficiently on the move. ‘Platooning’ uses automation technology to allow trucks to travel along the road in connected convoys. This optimised driving method can help to decrease wind resistance and improve overall driving safety.

Other industries will look to early adopters like the aviation industry and integrate capabilities like this into their own fleets. MRM will have a role to play here, evolving from a listening device to playing a more active role in intelligently improving the driving experience in real time.    

Single platform adoption will increase in popularity   

Organisations are always looking for ways to reduce operational risks and expense. For example, fleets are trying to reduce the number of miles driven and companies are trying to increase visibility across all operations with multiple platforms. But having to deal with several solutions can make the data difficult to analyse as well as wasting additional time and money.     

This means we will see businesses pushing for a single platform approach to streamline technology. In doing so, fleets will improve overall efficiency metrics with enhanced route optimisation and job execution. Businesses can use this single platform to accurately visualise the capability of the organisation and make more informed decisions, even on a global scale. 

Fleets will benefit from more real-time engagement 

Increased mobile use is not a new trend but more needs to be done when it comes to developing a full end-to-end solution for fleets. For example, companies will seek more real-time engagement with technicians and drivers to improve customer experiences. Customer engagement feedback in real-time and improved job and inventory management will become more commonplace in 2017.   

Electric fleets and autonomous vehicles will rise    

Greg Clark, the business, energy and industrial strategy secretary provided an early indication that increasing the number of electric vehicles on British roads will be high up on the government’s agenda over the course of this year. Currently there’s no tax on electric vehicles in major cities like London and fleets will want to take advantage of this to make further cost savings. Nissan already has an electric van offering and will be integrating telematics into this soon

We’re also edging nearer to seeing autonomous vehicles operating out on the roads. Ford has already stated it will be testing autonomous cars on European roads next year and will deliver on this promise by 2021.   

No one knows exactly what will happen in 2017 but businesses won’t be able to face the challenges that lie ahead by standing still. Innovation is key and the fleet will have a key role in helping companies achieve their goals. Driving on the front line of operations and customer service, the fleet has the power to transform a business in the year ahead with enhanced solutions and services.   

Sergio Barata, General Manager EMEA, Telogis 

Image Credit: Moon Light PhotoStudio / Shutterstock