The Connected Mobile Ecosystem

Con­nec­tiv­i­ty is the eco­nom­ic and com­mer­cial engine of today

By Tim Tay­lor, Chief Suc­cess Offi­cer at Tel­o­gis

The old busi­ness adage “if you can mea­sure it, you can man­age it,” remains true today. But there is a new truth for the mobile enter­prise: if you can con­nect it, you can trans­form it.

If knowl­edge is pow­er, con­nec­tion is empow­er­ment. We can now con­nect cus­tomers, sup­pli­ers, dri­vers and vehi­cles in ways pre­vi­ous­ly impos­si­ble. At a high lev­el, this equates to engaged dri­vers, informed and sat­is­fied cus­tomers and exec­u­tives with the abil­i­ty to under­stand trends in their busi­ness. On the road, this equates to prac­ti­cal advances such as low­er fuel costs, reduced vehi­cle wear and tear, and bet­ter uti­liza­tion of resources and per­son­nel.

Under­stand­ing the con­nec­tions, and how to achieve them, is the charge of every­one who man­ages a mobile enter­prise – from the fleet man­ag­er up to the CEO. Here we exam­ine ways to get more out of the mobile enter­prise while also evolv­ing the way we inter­face with and serve cus­tomers.

The Con­nect­ed Dri­ver

Five or ten years ago, telem­at­ics was based on enter­prise data deliv­ered to man­age­ment via the web and was less con­cerned with engag­ing the dri­ver. Dri­ver con­nect­ed­ness with the enter­prise is inte­gral to the next wave of telem­at­ics. A busi­ness is only as good as the per­son in the field that rep­re­sents it – and con­nect­ing the dri­ver to the mis­sion of the com­pa­ny through his or her mobile device is one way to do that.

Through mobile solu­tions such as Tel­o­gis Coach, which presents a dri­ver score­card and ranks per­for­mance com­pared to oth­ers in the com­pa­ny based on spe­cif­ic dri­ving behav­iors and met­rics, dri­vers are engaged in a pos­i­tive way to improve per­for­mance. Dur­ing down­time, dri­vers can review tips, dri­ving tuto­ri­als and spe­cial­ized train­ing make them safer dri­vers and empow­er­ing them with skills to climb the leader­board. It’s the dif­fer­ence between being com­mand­ing and con­trol­ling and being pos­i­tive and reward­ing – think car­rot, not stick. By mak­ing dri­ver safe­ty a game, it fos­ters friend­ly com­pe­ti­tion and a team spir­it that also has prac­ti­cal results in oper­a­tion: improved safe­ty and low­er fuel costs.

One Tel­o­gis cus­tomer – a major util­i­ty in the north­east­ern Unit­ed States – has report­ed that since imple­ment­ing a dri­ver score­card sys­tem, dri­vers are “climb­ing over each oth­er to get to the top”, and the com­pa­ny has record­ed quar­ter-over-quar­ter reduc­tions in fuel use, idle time and hard-brak­ing events – all safe­ty-relat­ed met­rics mon­i­tored by telem­at­ics soft­ware. In addi­tion to those imme­di­ate cost-sav­ing mea­sures, a score­card cus­tomer can save sig­nif­i­cant mon­ey as it relates to safe­ty: low­er insur­ance rates, low­er dam­age or replace­ment costs, and reduced or elim­i­nat­ed down­time asso­ci­at­ed with dam­aged vehi­cles and assets.

We are at a stage now where the infor­ma­tion com­ing off the truck or out of the back office, trans­mit­ted direct­ly to a worker’s mobile device, real­ly helps dri­ve effi­cien­cy and employ­ee sat­is­fac­tion.

Anoth­er way it does this is by help­ing that mobile employ­ee make informed deci­sions. One of the key com­ments we hear in the field from top exec­u­tives is “I wish my peo­ple could make bet­ter deci­sions.” With real-time infor­ma­tion deliv­ered direct­ly to them, they can. If a dri­ver is made aware that a dock door will not be avail­able at the deliv­ery they are cur­rent­ly head­ing to, they can lever­age their con­nect­ed route plan­ning, work order man­age­ment and truck-spe­cif­ic nav­i­ga­tion tech­nolo­gies to deter­mine more pro­duc­tive alter­na­tives than sit­ting at that customer’s facil­i­ty for two hours wait­ing.

This is ulti­mate­ly the promise of the con­nect­ed mobile ecosys­tem: empow­er­ing peo­ple through­out the orga­ni­za­tion to make bet­ter deci­sions using the data pro­vid­ed to them at the moment of need.

The Intel­li­gent Vehi­cle

The work vehi­cle rep­re­sents a nerve cen­ter that can be tapped into for a great deal of infor­ma­tion – that’s ulti­mate­ly what this entire arti­cle is about. But what can it tell a user about the vehi­cle itself and the peo­ple in it?

Through the com­bi­na­tion of telem­at­ics, work order man­age­ment and route opti­miza­tion, vehi­cles can be tagged with the tools con­tained in each vehi­cle, as well as the skill set of each dri­ver. In a work envi­ron­ment where the need to respond to ever-chang­ing cus­tomer demand is crit­i­cal, this abil­i­ty helps sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve response and fleet effi­cien­cy. A con­trac­tor, for instance, may have three vehi­cles clos­er to a call for emer­gency ser­vice, but those trucks may not have the tools required to per­form the job. By intel­li­gent­ly select­ing and rerout­ing a capa­ble vehi­cle and dri­ver, it ensures cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and the most effi­cient use of your resources in the field.

For large fleets that fea­ture many and vary­ing vehi­cles, telem­at­ics pro­vides a real-time and his­tor­i­cal snap­shot of asset uti­liza­tion. One divi­sion of the com­pa­ny may feel the need to pur­chase a new truck out­fit­ted with a spe­cif­ic tool or func­tion, such as a buck­et truck – but a uti­liza­tion report may iden­ti­fy an under­uti­lized buck­et truck two coun­ties over. This intel­li­gent and enter­prise-wide view into asset uti­liza­tion helps keep down own­ing and oper­at­ing costs, and allows com­pa­nies to make smarter buy­ing and leas­ing deci­sions.

One of the sim­plest func­tions of a telem­at­ics solu­tion is the abil­i­ty to mon­i­tor – via a cen­tral pro­gram – the oper­at­ing con­di­tions and main­te­nance demands of a fleet of vehi­cles. This helps fleet man­agers sched­ule main­te­nance in a man­ner that has min­i­mal impact on pro­duc­tive sched­ul­ing, and iden­ti­fy issues with vehi­cles that need atten­tion before they devel­op into a main­te­nance event requir­ing down­time or repair.

And, final­ly, the sim­plest task of all: loca­tion. Com­mu­ni­cat­ing where a truck is, where it has been and how long it was there helps in many ways: fuel tax report­ing, road and bridge com­pli­ance, theft recov­ery, fuel card man­age­ment and iden­ti­fy­ing unau­tho­rized use – all pos­si­ble with an intel­li­gent, con­nect­ed vehi­cle.

The Opti­mized and Evolv­ing Plan

Every­one loves it when a plan comes togeth­er. Don’t leave it up to chance. Busi­ness­es can con­trol their own des­tiny through coor­di­nat­ed use of nav­i­ga­tion, dis­patch, work order man­age­ment and route opti­miza­tion pro­grams. Put sim­ply, these tech­nolo­gies take the plan or desired pro­duc­tion for the day, com­pare that to the avail­able assets in the field, and cre­ate a plan that is going to allow those goals to be achieved by dri­ving the fewest miles. This saves fuel, reduces wear and tear on the vehi­cle, and puts the least amount of strain on the dri­ver. It also gives the com­pa­ny a real­is­tic assess­ment of how the fleet is actu­al­ly per­form­ing com­pared to the plan. Under favor­able con­di­tions, these tech­nolo­gies can reduce total miles dri­ven by 15 to 20 per­cent and help increase pro­duc­tiv­i­ty.

When extrap­o­lat­ed out across a large enter­prise, such as the fleet that serves one of the world’s largest retail­ers, the sav­ings can be almost over­whelm­ing: the com­pa­ny was able to deliv­er 361 mil­lion more cas­es while dri­ving 287 few­er miles through smart rout­ing and nav­i­ga­tion tech­nolo­gies. Imag­ine what 287 few­er miles looks like in terms of fuel sav­ings.

Dynam­ic sit­u­a­tions, such as storm response, are also rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing how fleets “plan” and car­ry out response actions in real time. Through vis­i­bil­i­ty shar­ing tech­nolo­gies we have avail­able on the Tel­o­gis plat­form, util­i­ties and their part­ner con­trac­tors can share a view of all assets and resources in the field. This allows numer­ous, inde­pen­dent fleets of vehi­cles to all be account­ed for in a sin­gle sys­tem and coor­di­nate response togeth­er to ensure the most effi­cient and effec­tive deploy­ment of resources. This shared view across fleets is tai­lor-made for the util­i­ty indus­try, but also opens doors in oth­er appli­ca­tions for busi­ness part­ners and cus­tomers to share fleet infor­ma­tion for the bet­ter­ment of all.

The Con­nect­ed and Sat­is­fied Cus­tomer

All busi­ness­es are based on one thing: cus­tomer demand. With­out it, a busi­ness doesn’t have a pur­pose – there­fore, there may be no more impor­tant fac­tor than cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. The con­nect­ed mobile ecosys­tem, as made pos­si­ble through loca­tion intel­li­gence tech­nolo­gies, achieves this in a num­ber of ways. For users in the truck­ing indus­try, it may mean grant­i­ng a cus­tomer vis­i­bil­i­ty into the loca­tion and esti­mat­ed arrival time of a truck (using sim­i­lar tech­nol­o­gy as out­lined in the storm response exam­ple). The cus­tomer then may be able to more effi­cient­ly sched­ule dock space for that incom­ing truck, and help ensure that the truck dri­ver and its load are back on the road as quick­ly and effi­cient­ly as pos­si­ble – sat­is­fy­ing both par­ties.

In the world of field ser­vice, con­nect­ed­ness allows for a whole new lev­el of cus­tomer inter­ac­tion. Inte­grat­ed work order man­age­ment, rout­ing and sched­ul­ing prob­lems empow­er the cus­tomer to sched­ule a ser­vice time that works best for them but also is opti­mized for the ser­vice provider based on cur­rent routes, resources and plans. This ensures a hap­py cus­tomer and a prof­itable ser­vice vis­it. Inte­grat­ed sys­tems that call a cus­tomer in advance of a vehicle’s ETA and con­firms that the cus­tomer will be there help cut down on no-shows and the asso­ci­at­ed drags on effi­cien­cy (resched­ul­ing, lost mileage, wear and tear, etc.).

The Intel­li­gent Prod­uct

The con­nect­ed mobile ecosys­tem is not lim­it­ed to the dri­ver, the vehi­cle, the plan or the cus­tomer. Through a sim­i­lar device as the one out­fit­ted on a truck, installed prod­ucts can be tracked to fur­ther improve cus­tomer ser­vice and keep oper­a­tional costs down, adding anoth­er dynam­ic com­po­nent to the con­nect­ed enter­prise and cus­tomer ser­vice. Take, as an exam­ple, a com­mer­cial heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing sys­tem. There are three phas­es of ser­vice, and each car­ries var­ied costs. Reac­tive main­te­nance (‘hey, my air con­di­tion­ing is broke, come and fix it’) may cost the con­trac­tor X in oper­at­ing costs. A planned main­te­nance pro­gram reduces main­te­nance costs (X-1) because it allows the con­trac­tor to be proac­tive and work in main­te­nance intel­li­gent­ly based on crew loca­tion and plans (opti­mized through work order man­age­ment and route opti­miza­tion).

Out­fit­ting that installed sys­tem with a track­ing device of its own and hav­ing it send the installer/maintenance con­trac­tor infor­ma­tion on per­for­mance and capac­i­ty in real time allows that con­trac­tor to respond more intel­li­gent­ly. This type of proac­tive sit­u­a­tion reduces cost even fur­ther (X-2) because tech­ni­cians aren’t going out to per­form main­te­nance on prod­ucts that don’t need it yet, and are address­ing issues before a sig­nif­i­cant fail­ure or out­age occurs. This proac­tive method also increas­es the contractor’s val­ue propo­si­tion and allows them to dif­fer­en­ti­ate their entire prod­uct based on that lev­el of ser­vice. It’s the ulti­mate in con­nect­ed­ness – pro­vid­ing a dual ben­e­fit to the cus­tomer and the ser­vice provider.

The Trans­formed Enter­prise and Fleet

The exam­ples com­mu­ni­cat­ed in this arti­cle rep­re­sent the best of what many in the indus­try are doing right now – but the beau­ty of the con­nect­ed mobile ecosys­tem is that it can be engi­neered to fit the needs of each indi­vid­ual business/enterprise. The results achieved for most busi­ness­es, how­ev­er, will be the same: a green­er, more cost-effi­cient fleet (fuel sav­ings, reduced idling), a safer fleet (improved dri­ving behavior/fewer acci­dents and tick­ets), improved cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, less wear and tear on your vehi­cles (and their dri­vers), improved employ­ee sat­is­fac­tion and deci­sion mak­ing, and an over­all greater uti­liza­tion of the assets and resources at hand.


Con­nect with us
Fol­low us




    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required field are marked *.