The latest integrated systems can do so much more for a business than help it keep track of workers on the road, writes Beverley Wise, sales director for UK and Ireland at TomTom Telematics
The origins of telematics can be traced back to the mid-1960s when the United States navy developed a Global Positioning System (GPS) to track nuclear capable submarines.
While this is an important milestone in the history of GPS, 1984 is arguably the most significant year that lead to the birth of modern day in-vehicle telematics.
In this year the European Parliament launched the Drive research initiative. The programme was set up to evaluate the use of telematics in improving road safety, achieving greater levels of efficiency, and reducing environmental impact.
When the programme concluded in 1992, the European Union signed a new treaty to focus on telematics development, believing that superior transportation and logistics networks would increase its competitiveness with the rest of the world.
Fast forward 34 years and in-vehicle telematics solutions have become sophisticated systems serving numerous challenges, from road safety and risk management to cost control and more.
Telematics is revolutionising the way we conduct ourselves as road users and there is now a huge opportunity for businesses to incorporate the technology as a means of promoting efficiency.
But how can this be achieved and which business departments will really benefit?
Transforming business operations
Imagine a tool which can not only function as the eyes and ears of every department within a business, but also help save money, promote safety, increase customer satisfaction and help ensure business compliance.
In its most simple form, telematics provides businesses with a direct insight into driving behaviour. This empowers teams to drive more responsibly helping minimise fuel, maintenance and insurance costs.
However, this isn’t the only way that telematics bridges the gap between managers at the office and drivers on the road.
Advanced telematics can help drivers justify time, mileage and the locations they visit to management, enhance their clients’ experience and accurately report to the tax office.
A tool for all
Although any business that relies on its vehicles could benefit from the introduction of telematics, those most likely to see the largest gains are businesses who operate and manage larger fleets.
We generally classify fleets into three main categories: transport and HGVs; light commercial vehicles; and passenger cars.
Each fleet type presents its own unique challenges, but all have the potential to make improvements to the businesses’ bottom-line with the use of telematics.
These benefits only accrue, however, when telematics is integrated across the different departments.
Introducing ‘telematics islands’
Data is often referred to as the ‘digital oil’ of the 21st century, and, certainly, it’s no less precious. TomTom’s ‘Telematics Islands’ model furthers this analogy to visualise the opportunity of connected telematics.
Imagine an oil rig spewing out vast quantities of oil – but without the pipelines to connect that oil to surrounding islands.
Now, imagine that this island group represents your business and its various departments. Like oil, the driver and vehicle data generated by your telematics solution has the power to make a phenomenal impact across the different departments.
But without those connections – or “pipelines” – the data will simply slip away, unused. Therefore, it’s a missed opportunity.
One of the biggest headaches for compliance teams is sourcing information for auditing when a business is called upon to demonstrate government compliance standards.
By streamlining telematics data across departments, key compliance data is recorded accurately and could be called upon to prove required levels are being met.
A streamlined telematics system could also make it easier for compliance to carry out tasks such as risk assessments and vehicle inspections.
At its core, telematics is built around improving a business’s bottom-line and improving efficiencies across the board. Some of the key areas where telematics can help a finance department include:
- Accurate mileage reporting for tax reclaims
- Reducing fraudulent transactions
- Reducing vehicle downtime and maintenance costs
- Better work scheduling/routing – reducing time spent on the road
- Improved driver behaviour potentially leading to:
- Less accidents and insurance premiums
- Reduced fuel costs
- Reduced vehicle wear and tear
Indeed, a well-managed telematics solution can bring vast savings to a business, which will be welcome news to any finance department.
For operations managers there is always the fine act of balancing stakeholder’s interests while ensuring their fleet is working at its optimum potential.
A fully integrated telematics solution could help alleviate difficulties by ensuring customer SLAs are adhered to while serving the interests of stakeholders.
Some telematics solutions can continually carry out vehicle checks and alert management to any outstanding or upcoming maintenance tasks. This appeases the interests of the finance department and saves on vehicle-downtime and maintenance costs.
Telematics can help your sales department focus on what matters to your business – generating sales and managing accounts.
Trip data is recorded automatically – making business mileage claims a stress-free task and minimising staff admin time. This gives your sales team more time to do what they do best.
Integrated telematics can also help provide greater visibility in terms of how many appointments your employees are attending each week, how long they spend on site and where each team member’s driving behaviour strengths and weaknesses lie.
Is it time your business became connected?
Telematics has become both incredibly sophisticated and indispensable for any business that relies on its vehicles. It provides an auditable record, encourages safety, helps provide legal security, and can help save money for your company. Not to mention the benefits that can be realised by your customers.
The information in this blog post is intended for reference only. TomTom Telematics does not warrant or imply that the use of this text or its products or services can in itself guarantee compliance with your tax or legal obligations. To ensure compliance with these obligations you must always seek individual advice from a legal counsel or a qualified tax compliance specialist