Emerging technologies today have a transformative impact on businesses across the globe. Be it enterprise or consumer facing landscapes, these technologies have transformed our product, service, and information consumption pattern. With trillions of bytes of data floating in the virtual world every second, businesses have started to maximise their operations by building and adopting new technology architectures that have a positive impact on the bottom line. For businesses that depend on commodities, products, raw materials, services, and even people, fleets are the beating heart of its operation and in this domain. Fleet tracking technology coupled with video telematics is catalyzing positive disruptions across industries worldwide. It is not surprising that the global fleet management software market is expected to grow by 3.7X between 2022 and 2029 at a CAGR of 18.3% (Fortune Business Insights).
The concept of fleet management has existed for many years to manage the delivery of goods from one place to another, manage the movement of public transportation such as buses, taxis, school buses, etc; vehicles employed in construction, mining, and agriculture, as well public services vehicles like ambulances, police vehicles, cash vans and more. Businesses in the earlier days used conventional methods like relying on fleet managers to perform all the tasks manually using pen-paper-phone. For several years, the fleet management business was run with the same rudimentary coordination system, making fleet tracking and driver management difficult and inefficient. With Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven fleet technology, businesses are moving towards addressing every aspect of fleet management enabling efficiency, safety and sustainability.
Gaps in the fleet management industry
In the last decade, industries dealing in movement of goods for long distances have been very sub-optimal as their fleet owners and operators had a difficult time tracking vehicles. The only ways of staying in touch with the driver was by calling them or using hardware that they had to view on different platforms for different types of visibility. What did this mean beyond lack of real-time information? It meant limited to no support for drivers in any untoward incident while in transit, potential for pilferage, damage of consignment, vehicle and driver safety challenges, and so on. All of this would tantamount to a major impact on business, with companies incurring extra costs and time losses. There was a huge gap that needed to be filled in the fleet industry as fleet owners were actively looking for simple yet powerful technology solutions to manage and improve their business.
Softwares available in 2015-16 were actually built in the 90s, hence the efficacy was limited, leading to business inefficiencies. These were largely disconnected systems, which led to fleet operators spending a lot of time figuring business on pen and paper while trying to integrate inputs from various places manually. Across global emerging markets, owners and drivers of over 250M commercial vehicles are faced with these challenges. For an industry that serves as the backbone of the global economy such challenges have an impact on end users and customers.
The new-age fleet tech product developed in western markets were beyond the reach of fleet operators in emerging markets owing to prohibitive pricing, hardware needs of the software, and network limitations. Hence, there is a growing need to democratize access to modern fleet tech in emerging market by addressing the aforementioned limitations.
Role of IoT in fleet technology
Today, IoT is not just another abbreviation we are aware of, it has now become an integral part of our day-to-day lives. A decade ago, most of us only knew about the concept of IoT and here we are in 2022, where IoT is involved in almost everything right from controlling your home appliances from outside your home to building smarter cities, improving public health, and combating climate change. The potential of IoT is limitless! According to Zion Market Research report on “IoT Fleet Management Market – Global Industry Analysis”, the IoT-driven fleet management market is set to reach a market cap of $15,500 Million by 2024.
IoT has now become a necessity for every business – be it manufacturing, supply chain, banking, travel, logistics, or any other industry. IoT makes machines discoverable even from thousands of miles away, and combined with AI, businesses can take necessary action based on real-time data and insights. One of the biggest challenges faced by fleet-driven businesses is to monitor the location, fitness, and performance of their vehicle, goods, and drivers. Technology-driven solutions, smart devices, sensors, and internet connectivity – these key elements help drive growth and opportunities for fleet operators. IoT enables interconnectivity between these devices and ground assets via cloud networks.
Integration of IoT and Telematics leading the way for fleet management
Telematics and IoT are together elevating the fleet technology offering for industries across the board. Video telematics has become an integral part of the fleet management ecosystem, providing fleet managers with detailed insights into how their drivers and vehicles perform. In combination with IoT, video telematics is enabling the development of new digital supply chains. By enabling the exchange of data, IoT is helping to ensure better road safety by reducing the risk of accidents, improving the flow of traffic, and reducing congestion. It also helps in cutting down CO2 emissions and improving urban air quality.
IoT can also help fleet owners gain a better understanding of telematics data, and put it to new uses. Coupling telematics with sensors and other AI-driven technologies can help in expanding the technological capacities of the fleet, delivering a wide range of benefits to fleet owners and their customers like weather prediction, extending the life of perishable goods by monitoring the temperature of the vehicle, and enhancing the efficiency of the vehicle in making deliveries.
Video Telematics improving the safety of drivers
Road safety concerns have been on the rise globally with the increasing number of vehicles on the road. As per a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), there are approximately 1.3 million reported deaths globally due to road accidents. Commercial vehicle drivers have to face many levels of challenges while on the road including the safety of the cargo, vehicle, and themselves. Road accidents by commercial drivers can take place due to different reasons, such as overspeeding, distracted driving, violation of traffic rules, flawed vehicle conditions, poor road infrastructure and more.
The role of telematics solutions has brought a huge change in the fleet management industry, with fleet owners and operators not having to rely on assumptions while making decisions in case of any incident or accident. With video telematics, fleet managers can get real-time video footage of road-facing events (such as tailgating, overspeeding, etc.) and driver-facing events (such as distracted driving, face ID, etc.). This enables fleet owners to design and implement training programs focusing on specific needs for improving the driver’s performance. Moreover, constant reviewing & monitoring helps in building a sense of accountability among drivers. AI-powered sensors help fleet managers & operators to identify unsafe driving patterns, further reducing the risk against collision, vehicle speeding, etc. These solutions play a crucial role in securing the safety needs of a vehicle driver in a better manner.
Criticality of fleet technology especially in the emerging world
In developed nations, the industry has become very large over the past decade and several players offer sophisticated tech catering to drivers and fleet owners who are tech-savvy, enjoying better roads and networks, and overall are more organized.
In emerging markets, the industry is fragmented and spans a spectrum. It includes large enterprises which hope to get efficiencies of tens of millions of dollars by using the right fleet management solutions, and small business owners for whom their commercial vehicle is their sole livelihood. Fleet management to them can mean a better quality of life for their families and future generations. Combining this with the complexity of varied hardware, software, and telecom networks, fleet management companies of any kind vary in each market by type of solution provided and by scale. The focus should always be on bringing the fleet owners resorting to old-school devices and software to the world of accessible & affordable world-class technology-led solutions.
Future of fleet management industry
The key factors responsible for the growth of the fleet management industry are the increased government regulations, the need for optimization of fleet operating expenses, cost benefits from the decreasing hardware and software prices. Closer home, in India for example, the Government’s progressive push for better connectivity and vehicle tracking through mandates encourages the use of telematics devices and fleet management solutions. As of today, more and more fleet owners & operators in emerging markets are beginning to understand the importance of IoT and AI-driven fleet management solutions. Additionally, with IoT & AI at its core, streamlining logistics operations will be predominantly SaaS-based. The core components of SaaS such as quick implementation, pay-as-you-go models, scalability, and Cloud security will allow businesses to grow without spending excessively on software.
Prior to Co-Founding LocoNav, Shridhar led sales and partnership at ClearTax, India’s first Y-Combinator product, backed by SAIF Partners and Sequoia Capital. He was also on the founding team of Fitho, a leading fitness tech platform (acquired by Practo) along with being the Co-Founder and Business Head of the Healthcare division at DNG Enterprises
Prior to Co-Founding LocoNav, Vidit was Founding Engineer at Bizzy (acquired by SendGrid), an omnichannel marketing engine for businesses. He worked closely with the founders on every aspect of the company and built the entire back-end framework for Bizzy. He also held the Lead Engineer position at ClearTax.
Published in Telematics Wire