2019 just may be the “Year of the Plunge” for many fleet managers. And no, not plunging bottom lines, productivity or efficiency levels. Actually, it’s just the opposite, since more fleet managers are pointing to 2019 as the year they’re focusing more on data and taking the digital plunge.
What this means is saying goodbye to paper and spreadsheets as a primary fleet management tool and hello to scalable, secure, and comprehensive digital fleet management/telematics solutions that, with their data collecting capabilities, can improve most every area of fleet operations, boost profitability, and make managing any size or type of fleet much more efficient.
With the economy expected to grow steadily in 2019 and the marketplace becoming more crowded, fleet managers will have to be at the top of their game to remain competitive, and paper and spreadsheets are no longer the most effective means to help achieve this goal.
The Risk of Paper
There’s no question that traditional spreadsheets and paper-based management tools have been somewhat effective for fleet management. For fleets with only a couple of vehicles, you could argue that these manual tools still are effective. However, considering the vast amounts of data available to fleet managers and ever-evolving technology, continuing to rely on paper to help manage fleet operations could mean putting your fleet at risk.
For starters, paper methods are limited in their capabilities and provide only a basic overview of fleet operations, which means that managers are limited in the amount of control they have over their fleet. It also means that key areas, such as safety, compliance and cost control are not managed as effectively and efficiently as they could be. Additionally, areas for improvement are not easily identifiable.
With data growing exponentially, paper methods just don’t have the data handling and report generation capabilities needed for best practices across operational areas. In fact, fleet managers are likely to find themselves buried under piles of data and falling behind — and catch-up isn’t a position any fleet manager wants to be in.
With paper, there is also the time factor — as in slow. The amount of time it takes to input, output and analyze data is a drain on productivity and leaves little time for other tasks. The problem here is that data must be handled as quickly as possible, which puts pressure on employees. With this pressure, inaccuracies can occur — especially inaccurate data entry — that can cause all kinds of issues. Plus, with mountains of data, if spreadsheets aren’t constantly updated with the most recent data, fleets could be operating from outdated information, which could jeopardize operations, as well as relationships with customers and suppliers.
The Reward of Digital
There is little doubt that telematics is one of the greatest technological advances in fleet management. As more advances are made — which seems to be almost daily — the data collecting capabilities and benefits of telematics are only going to multiply.
A recent study of fleet managers for the trucking industry asked what their greatest concerns were going into 2019, and they included:
- Reducing risky driving behaviors
- Optimizing operating costs
- Improving maintenance
- Decreasing accidents
- Increasing fuel economy
- Improving asset utilization
- Preventing unnecessary downtime
- Creating better driver incentive programs
- Increasing driver retention
Considering that telematics can help fleet managers manage, identify opportunities, and improve in all of the above-mentioned areas, it’s little wonder why many fleet managers are citing 2019 as the year they’re taking the digital plunge to meet these goals. Just for fuel costs alone, studies have shown that, within the first year, a comprehensive telematics solution can help fleets save up to 15%.
Telematics is here to stay, and industry experts are predicting that, within the year, analytics within telematics solutions is going to get even better. The thousands of data points collected from telematics solutions will become even more valuable, with fleet managers able to gain greater insight and transparency into their operations and turn data into meaningful and profitable action.
If you are interested in learning more about telematic solutions, check out our Fleet Telematics guide.