Telematics is a relatively new technology in relation to its use within commercial fleets. It’s especially used to gather vehicle-related data, upload it to servers, and present that data to fleet managers.
However, telematics as a technology is not new. The exact date telematics came to be isn’t 100% clear. But what we do know is that the U.S. military was using and developing GPS technology and used the phrase “telematics” in the late 70s to describe the process of gathering vehicle data.
By the 1990s, GPS (Global Positioning System), which plays an important role in telematics, had made its way into commercial and civilian vehicles.
GPS tracking revolutionized how the fleet industry operates. By monitoring the location of a vehicle, fleet managers were able to implement several operational improvements. It can increase productivity, improving driver safety, theft recovery, and more.
It was around the early 2000s that businesses with fleets of vehicles started to use telematics technologies. Telematics made it possible to gather a wider, more detailed set of real-time data on their vehicles.
The technology, and more so the applications of telematics, has been rapidly advancing ever since. The number of data points a fleet operator can track continues to grow. So is the software on the front end that collects and sorts all of the data. Thus, fleet management solutions continue to grow as a field.
Founded in 1996, MiX was one of the first standalone telematics companies. The company has continually led the industry in innovation, with the first electronic logging solution, the first video telematics solution, the first mobile app for drivers, and the first digital driver scorecard solution.
As you’ll discover from the rest of this article, it’s an exciting time for fleet operators using telematics. This technology has become an invaluable tool for any business operating a fleet today.
If you’re not happy with your current telematics provider, have outgrown them, or aren’t getting the level of data you need - it’s time to switch. Telematics is so pivotal to fleet operations that you can’t afford to settle for anything less than ideal.
Neglecting to do so will hand over a competitive edge to your competitors and end up costing you more in lost savings in the long run. It’s that important.
If any of the following frustrations sound familiar, you shouldn’t hesitate to switch providers:
Telematics technology comes at a cost, but it’s a technology that should save you more money than it costs in the long run.
Most fleet managers use the data to optimize their driver’s routes, cut down on idle time, identify risky driver behavior, and some other metrics that can save on fuel consumption. There are also some potentially huge vehicle savings to be had, from scheduling preventive maintenance, using vehicle diagnosis to identify performance issues, and so on.
The bottom line is that you can better optimize your fleet operations by having accurate driver and vehicle tracking data.
There's nothing worse than installing a new fleet management system and being left to fend for yourself. It is essential to evaluate the level of ongoing support you get.
Support availability, training options, and an array of other service options such as a fluid implementation process make a difference to your satisfaction with the telematics service you choose. Important questions to ask include:
MiX Telematics takes a unique Service for Life approach that helps ensure customer success from implementation through the entire life of the contract. This approach helps ensure you get the ROI you expect – we keep our promises.
No two businesses’ needs are the same. One of the main benefits of telematics is collecting a wide range of data points when used correctly.
You can track the exact data points that are important to you and use the data how you want on the front end with fleet management software. If you’re frustrated at not collecting and using the types of data that will make a difference to your business, it’s time to consider switching telematics companies.
There is rarely a ‘one-size-fits-all’ telematics solution. At the very least, you need fleet management software on the front end to work with the data. This means it’s vital that the systems and software you do have are working cohesively together with your telematics solution.
If you’re currently experiencing difficulties integrating your current telematics tech with your existing software, now is the time to find a better solution.
Choosing a telematics company or solution comes with its own challenges. There are various types of hardware, software, and solutions that suit some businesses better than others.
It helps if you have a starting point to work with. For this reason, we’ve covered some of the key things you should consider when choosing a telematics solution:
The physical telematics device that collects data comes in various shapes and sizes. For some companies, it’s important you’re able to hide it somewhere discreetly.
It’s always a good idea to ask where and how the devices will fit the vehicles in your fleet.
This is ultimately the most important consideration. Many fleet operators enter into telematics not knowing the data that’s important to them and end up with a solution that doesn’t meet their needs.
The best planning you can do is discuss the data points you’ll be able to track with various telematics providers before committing. Then evaluate what the most important data points are for your business.
Cost is always an important consideration when investing in fleet-wide tech that will have such a huge impact as telematics. Whether or not to invest in telematics is an easy decision. The ROI is always going to be positive if you choose the right solution.
You should still always look for the best possible value. That’s just smart business sense. It’s also a good idea to look into the future and see how the price and technology scale when adding several new vehicles to your fleet.
There are two elements to consider when integrating telematics into your business; the technology, as discussed, and the provider supplying the ongoing support for the technology.
Here are some of the important attributes to look for when working with a telematics or fleet tracking partner:
As we touched on earlier, technical issues can quickly become expensive if not resolved quickly. Not to mention that no one ever wants to receive a bad customer experience.
When deciding on a partner, put their customer service to the test. Ask questions about the product, their average response time, how they deal with certain problems, and so on.
If you have any plans to scale your operations in the future, either geographically or in the size of your fleet, you should discuss this with a partner before entering into an agreement.
You don’t want to switch telematics companies down the line because they keep up with how fast you’re expanding. Ideally, you want a fleet telematics partner that will scale with you and provide added value as you grow.
If there’s one thing we reinforced more than once in this article, it’s that choosing the right telematics company is essential for the success of your fleet operations.
If you find the right company that understands your business, integrates the best possible telematics solution, and has the support in place to help you gather the most impactful data - you’re going to see notable improvements in your fleet operations.
You will be able to improve fleet safety, which you can’t put a price on. You’ll be able to provide better training for improved driver performance and increased morale across the board. You will also see some huge savings on fuel and vehicle costs, which improves your bottom line.
It’s more than worth spending the time and effort to find the perfect telematics company.