9 October 2017

‘Big data’ puts fleet and travel management on collision course to an efficient business BMaaS future

The worlds of fleet management and travel management are colliding at a rapid rate driven by technology and ‘big data’ that will underpin Business Mobility-as-a-Service (BMaaS).

What’s more fleet managers will ‘cease to exist’ unless they embrace ‘big data’ to make better informed decisions enabling them to become ‘less doing and more strategic’ in their roles.

ICFM’s ‘Big Data’ Masterclass analysed the changing landscape and how the unprecedented stream of information with the arrival of the ‘connected car’, the Internet of Things and the concept of BMaaS would help managers drive ‘unbelievable efficiencies’ across their businesses.

Justin Whitston, chief executive of Fleetondemand, one of Europe’s BMaaS leaders, told Masterclass delegates that a ‘paradigm shift’ was taking place in fleet explaining: ‘Today managers are focussed on owned assets, but by using ‘big data’ they could look at introducing alternative modes of transport and analyse employee movements.

‘The company car is hyper convenient so it is only when BMaaS is as convenient as the company car can managers make the move from one to the other. They are complementary at the moment.’

However, he told the Masterclass, that change to a total cost of mobility solution was happening at a rapid pace and by mining ‘big data’ for information the hyper convenience required by employees would bring the corporate costs of fleet and travel on to one platform giving managers a ‘single company view’.

But, said Mr Whitston, the volume of ‘big data’ from multiple sources – notably relating to driver behaviour and vehicle performance – available to fleet and travel managers could be daunting. Therefore, he advised managers: ‘Understand and define your objectives and then look for the “big data” required.’

He advised: ‘It is not the amount of data that is important. It is what is done with the data that matters. Managers should be focused on small incremental pockets of mobility and using “big data” to make a start and step into BMaaS. Implement, evaluate, refine and implement again.’

Employee engagement is at the ‘epicentre’ of business mobility – not just drivers but all employees – and Paul Hollick, chairman of ICFM, which is dedicated to advancing the profession of car and light commercial fleet management through a range of externally endorsed qualifications, said: ‘The fleet manager ecosystem is changing. Currently it is quite messy and not particularly streamlined.

‘But that is changing with telematics becoming far more key and far more reliant on a communications platform. The business model is shifting to car services because of “big data”. The industry is moving from being asset – the vehicle – driven to be focused on employees and their movements.’

Mr Hollick, who is managing director of global mileage audit and fuel expense management specialist TMC, said as a result of a range of factors including increasing urbanisation, pollution, congestion and the impact of the changing behaviour of generation Y – those born in the 1980s and 1990s – managers had to consider ‘the future shape of their fleets’.

Moving into what he called ‘the fourth industrial revolution’ underpinned by the internet and the smartphone, he said: ‘Technology is ballooning out of control. It is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace and that is impacting on fleets and in particular what managers are doing with “big data”.

‘Massive momentum is being built so fleet managers need to think about their operational model.’

Furthermore, he said, those fleet managers who failed to react to the changes taking place would find themselves out of work as he forecast that the future would see all employee journeys being managed via a single access online platform enabling businesses to set a mobility budget for individual staff.

Business could already make ‘big data’ impactful by, for example, overlapping in-vehicle telematics derived data with fuel purchasing data, but by working with a wide range of suppliers, including vehicle manufacturers as well as leasing and rental companies and travel management specialists, the volume of mobility management data would accelerate.

He outlined a vision in which all journey costs – private and public transport-related as well as associated fines, road tolls, car parking and taxi fares – would be automatically collated on a per-employee basis with an automatic ‘payroll feed’ to deduct costs from an employee’s mobility budget.

That strategy, said Mr Hollick, would both ‘manage and steer employee behaviour’ by influencing their salary and reducing the administration burden of ‘chasing’ drivers to complete documents relating to, for example, driving licence validation checks. He pointed out: ‘If employees don’t comply then they won’t get paid.’

Mr Hollick continued: ‘Setting a mobility budget for each employee will influence the mode of transport they take. Employees will be able to access travel options via their own portal, make bookings and keep a track of their budget. The journey to mobility on demand is occurring very quickly.’