Small Business Insights: Q & A on Fleet Management (Part 2)

Best practices in fleet management, continued.

By on July 11, 2012

Fleet management technology is essential for small businesses to manage vehicle deployment and maintenance. Making day-to-day decisions based on real-time data instead of the usual guesswork cuts down on profit losses and boosts a small business’ efficiency.

Below is the second half of my conversation with Abdul Abdullah, director of transportation solutions at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, focusing on recent changes in fleet management technology and a few ideas of what to expect from the industry in the coming years.

Part 1 of this interview is available here.

What is the biggest change in fleet management that you’ve seen over the last year?

When it comes to technology, small businesses are adopting more machine to machine capabilities enabling a more efficient business practice. As they rely more on smartphones and tablets, they continue to look for new ways to improve efficiency, including managing their vehicles and personnel. Over the last year, the biggest change in our industry is that business owners are capitalizing on the incredible data speeds and connectivity of 4G LTE networks through a combination of devices and apps.

Not only does a reliable connection allow mobile workers and their vehicles to provide more concrete information about performance to fleet managers, but as technology has been further integrated into vehicles, drivers are now able to operate in a smarter digital environment. Our machine to machine technology allows the SMB to have actionable information that will provide visibility into an operation to help improve their ROI. 

Where do you see fleet management technologies in the next 5 to 10 years?

We are only just scratching the surface of making the vehicle – whether they’re vans or 18-wheelers – smarter and safer. Machine to machine technology produces an enormous amounts of data, enabling increases in efficiency and productivity. Over the next few years, more mobile applications and programs will be incorporated directly into the vehicle’s cab. 

Right now, we’re talking about applications that measure mileage, but very soon we’ll see tools that will allow fleet managers and drivers to monitor oil life or disable smartphones while driving to prevent distracted driving. 

Soon, fleet management will include more tools and technologies to monitor driving patterns. I wouldn’t be surprised to also see more usage-based insurance being offered as insurers are able to review driving history and behaviors to determine premiums and insurance packages. 

With the amount of actionable data that could be tracked by a cab’s digital instruments, fleet managers would be able to monitor hard braking, speeding and aggressive driving for starters. We are on the forefront of some really cool tools that will be implemented as fleet management becomes more of a must-have mindset. I liken it to companies adopting web sites. In the beginning, there were only a few, now you are left out if you don’t have one.

Do you have any advice to offer to small business owners looking for ways to efficiently manage their vehicles?

The most important thing for small fleet managers to do is embrace change and take advantage of the resources and technology available to them. It’s time for SMB owners and fleet managers to explore how this technology can make doing business more convenient for them, their drivers and customers. By incorporating efficient fleet management systems, they can position their business as cutting edge and a good corporate citizen employing green initiatives. 

If a small business isn’t able to provide customers with reliable service or assurance of delivery of goods; they’re going see losses in revenue. Fleet management allows managers to stay on top of the deployment of their business’ mobile assets and be confident that they will do so efficiently. As we try to drive this point home, we want to ensure SMBs get the most mileage – from their technology as well as their fuel.