Robert Pilkington, director of Oxford-based online solutions provider, Ebbon-Dacs, argues that while many developments in the ‘connected car’ arena are exciting for drivers, they don’t really help in the management of large fleets.
When people use the term ‘telematics’, often they are referring to location tracking or developments in the increased connectivity and infotainment systems of modern vehicles, with their links to social media and other retail ‘driver applications’.
We hear a lot about the ‘connected car’ and the exciting range of new features they can bring for drivers. But, in reality, they are primarily enhancements to the creature comforts available to the modern driver, and not of much practical use in the effective management of large numbers of vehicles.
When discussing telematics with potential customers we are often asked ‘but won’t the cars manage that themselves in future?’ when referring to dynamic servicing scheduling, for example. But the short answer is really: ‘no, they won’t’ when it comes to a multi-vehicle fleet.
The modern car is set up to follow the preferences of the supplying OEM with a whole range of apps and other enhancements designed to keep the driver as loyal to that brand as possible.
But while the OEM may want the car to go back to the dealer where it was first purchased for its servicing and maintenance requirements, this may be completely at odds with the preferred maintenance network of the leasing company or fleet management company that ultimately ends up managing the vehicle.
What operational leasing or fleet management providers really need are standardised ways of extracting the same information from all cars on the fleet, regardless of make and model, so that they can make appropriate and informed management decisions in a host of areas, such as mileage management, servicing and maintenance, duty of care and risk management.
At the moment there is no standardised way of extracting all this information across a fleet of say 10,000 vehicles and turning it into useful, usable management information upon which meaningful management decisions can be based.
What is really required is a set of industry-agreed standard protocols that will allow the extraction of standardised data in a uniform way across all vehicles.
Only by having access to standardised data of this kind, can the leasing or fleet management company offer appropriate advice to its clients about how they should be running their fleets more effectively.
And in this respect, the ‘connected car’, though great news for the driver, is not a help in isolation; a whole layer of multi-vehicle communications and a new generation of fleet management software is needed to turn data into a real competitive business advantage.
Robert Pilkington, Director of the Leaselink International division of Ebbon-Dacs