For a myriad of reasons, 2016 was an interesting year for businesses in the UK. But while the economy has had many bumpy moments, business confidence remains high. Political and economic uncertainty however has continued into 2017 and companies must try even harder to remain competitive in this tough climate. With this in mind, what trends will help fleet-based businesses capitalise on this confidence and take the competitive edge in the year ahead?
Fleets will invest more in IoT solutions
The IoT is still in its infancy, but as forward-thinking organisations start looking for more intelligence across their entire operation, from elements of their warehouse to their retail outlets, we'll see greater adoption. An example of current use is that drivers now use their smartphones and the IoT to glean comprehensive understanding about the use of assets like cranes, plants or trailers. 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.
Through the IoT, we will also start to see Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) take shape, where fleets can intelligently communicate with regional infrastructure in real time. Drivers will be able to receive useful updates from the likes of parking availability and roadworks to weather conditions. As this manifests, we will also begin to see the possibilities of smart cities.
Mobile Resource Management will replace telematics
As businesses increasingly wake up to the benefits of telematics, there is a new kid on the block; Mobile Resource Management (MRM) threatens to blow traditional telematics out of the water.
Almost everyone now has a smartphone in their pocket. This means that 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. Added to this, 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 give unparalleled insight into operations.
MRM will not only supply traditional telematics information, but also detailed driver, planning, navigation, routing and compliance data, as well as being able to harness the power of the IoT. Organisations that embrace MRM will see significant operational savings.
Fleets will integrate more with AI
AI is gaining momentum in fleets. The aviation industry now has trucks with moving lifts and mechanical components that operate independently in transit. 'Platooning' uses automation technology to allow trucks to move along the road in connected convoys. This optimised driving technique can help to reduce wind resistance and improve overall driving safety.
Other industries will look to integrate capabilities like this into their own fleets. MRM will have a role to play here, advancing from acting as a listening device to playing a more active role in intelligently improving the driving experience in real time.
Single platform adoption will rise
Companies are constantly looking to reduce operational risks and costs. For example, fleets are trying to cut down the number of miles driven and businesses are seeking to increase visibility across all operations using different platforms. Having to deal with multiple solutions can make the data difficult to analyse as well as wasting additional time and money.
Increasingly we will see the enterprise pushing for a single platform approach to streamline its technology. In doing so, fleets will increase overall efficiency metrics with improved route optimisation and job execution. Companies can use this single platform to confidently visualise the capability of the enterprise and make better informed decisions, even on an international level.
Electric fleets and autonomous vehicles will become more commonplace
In November 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 an important government focus in 2017. Currently there's no tax on electric vehicles in major cities like London and fleets will want to take advantage of this to make additional cost savings. Nissan already has an electric van offering and will be integrating telematics into this soon.
We're also stepping closer to working with autonomous vehicles. Ford has said it will be testing autonomous cars on European roads next year and has pledged to deliver this by 2021.
Whatever the next 12 months has in store, businesses won't be able to tackle it by standing still. Innovation is vital, and the fleet should play a key role in this. Sitting at the hub of operations and customer service, the fleet has the power to transform a business in the year ahead with improved solutions and services.