Data is king.* These three words are often repeated across many industries, but there is truth to the statement. As consumers and businesses progress into a more connected ecosystem, it's crucial to optimize and maximize efficiencyand to do that, utilization of data in the proper way means the world.

Data makes the world go 'round

Today, in the palms of our hands, we have access to nearly all the knowledge in the world. Our mobile phones can do things we would never have dreamt of just 50 years ago. We're able to consume information at an astonishing rate, and it has created a visible shift in how we communicate.

As technology rapidly improved, our methods of communication shifted: from written letters, to fax, to email, to real-time communication in text messaging and chat programs. And this shift has made information available for us on demand. Companies spend a lot of money to ensure what shows up in social feeds or ad-based marketing are targeted to the desired audience and they do so using data science – because it works.

Introducing the connected vehicle

It's no wonder that in the time we moved from the wired telephone to being able to group video chat on our phones that another consumer item also became increasingly connected. And it's not one that you might think of first: your car.

Cars, and subsequently drivers, hold a breadth of dataand in a world where data is king, not utilizing it is a travesty in and of itself. Our vehicles hold a wealth of information that, to most, is hidden under a sheen of mystery. We know it's there, but we don't quite understand how it works.

When our check engine light comes on, we panic. Our tire pressure notification light highlights and we feel inconvenienced. And we, as drivers, occasionally find ourselves going a bit faster than we should and then we're angry when we get a speeding ticket. Perhaps, you sit in your car to finish a call, letting it idle so you don't need to deal with the inconvenience of your Bluetooth disconnecting.

Data is vital for fleets

Currently, utilization of data is crucial for proper vehicle performance and driver efficiency and it holds even truer for businesses with fleets. If you've ever tuned into performance racing, you see people in pit crews holding a tablet with charts, graphs and figures moving about. Gone are the days where this is specific to just that demographic. As vehicles become more connected, understanding what data points are meaningful is as important as the data itself.

It's important to monitor peak engine performance at all times for a race car to ensure the vehicle can continue driving safely at upwards of 100 MPH. However, you probably don't want your drivers trying to go that quickly in your fleet vehicle. But if they do, it's important to know that it occurred. And that's where data collection from the vehicle comes into play.

Not all kings are created equal

If data is king, understanding and ingesting the data is queen. With tens of thousands of data points available, wading through the noise and excess to extract important and actionable insights is proven as a valuable service – perhaps from your fleet provider.

But the value in understanding data metrics extends beyond simple revenue generation. It's understanding key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure how impactful certain datasets are. However, in a world where data is king, not all kings are equal. For instance, by understanding your specific behavior patterns, targeted ad campaigns can leverage KPIs to highlight the items most important for you.

Targeted ads show relevant products or services based on your prior search behavior and browsing patterns. Utilizing a vast pool of data across a large population, these advertising campaigns utilize machine learning and neural networks to target the people who are most likely to click the ad. All this data is accrued just by using your search engine or online shopping.

Much like search engines, vehicles provide data in spadesengine hours, engine temperature, diagnostic trouble codes, speed, acceleration, braking, location, fuel economy, distance traveledand that's just to name a few. The deluge of information can easily be overwhelming, and the vast amount of data must be corralled and normalized to be useful.

Data normalization, in essence, takes those tens of thousands of data points and derives the data into separate events. Events can be meaningful or meaninglessand the meaning is dependent on your fleet's goals. For example, if increasing safety is your goal, the data will enable you to see how each driver performing. Then, you can target specific situations as necessary to reduce risky behavior such as, speeding, aggressive acceleration or harsh braking, which can lead to preventable incidents such as rear-ending.

Unfortunately, there's no cookie cutter solution that fulfills a one-size-fits-all approach. And determining the right event data to optimize your fleet requires a thorough understanding of both the fleet and the data.

Not all data is created equal

Another point of distinction is that not all data is created equal, and should not be treated as such. Different OEMs provide different data points. And all of them use their own specifications to remain proprietary. Some OEMs provide more data than others, and the further back in history you go, the scarcer data becomes (across all OEMs).

It's unrealistic to expect that a fleet is made up of all brand-new vehicles conforming to a uniform make and model. So, it's important to understand that discrepancies in data and extrapolating the meaningful bits hangs in a fine balance. This balance is important to maintain through bringing data in from the best source possible for each vehicle.

The ultimate goal: to be data agnostic

Another term thrown around the data conversation and business intelligence utilization is data agnostic. What that means for the world of vehicles becoming more connected is: by sourcing data from different OEMs and from different vendors who make it their focus to bring that data to life, you can see a better picture of the fleet at large rather than conforming to a single data source.

Data agnostic insights are important because it shows the best possible data for each individual vehicle. This alleviates the problem of mixed fleets and tailors actionable insights to the best of each vehicle's abilityregardless of manufacturer.

In a world where data is king, finding the right queen to reel it all in and give it meaning is a paramount decision. Find out how the power of data via telematics can help your business through our eBook, "How – and why – telematics drives value."

* LeasePlan is committed to ensuing we handle customer, business partner and employee data to a high and compliant standard. We were one of the first companies to introduce a set of binding privacy rules across the whole of our organization, and we have established a dedicated Privacy Office to make sure those rules are upheld. But this does not make us complacent. As technology develops and our use of data changes, LeasePlan is continuously working to improve our data protection policies, processes and systems.

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Welcome to the July Product Rundown! Here you’ll find the latest updates and tech improvements we’ve been working on right here at LeasePlan. If you’d like to know more about any of the products or services you see here, feel free to reach out to your account manager to get started today.

How well are you communicating with your drivers?

Let’s face it – sometimes communicating with all of your drivers can be a challenge. Chances are, if you feel like you could be doing more, you probably can. Did you know there is more than one way to communicate with your fleet using LeasePlan services? Opt into any one at any time. Reach out to your account manager for more information.

MyLeasePlan

Let’s start with the MyLeasePlan app. It already offers personal mileage reporting, vehicle maintenance records and a fuel locator – and there’s so much more coming. You can even allow your drivers to accept your company policy and help enforce compliance through the app.

Elle

Enrolling in Elle is a great way to let your drivers do the talking – especially when it comes to the simple things. While drivers would once dial up their fleet managers to ask day-to-day questions, all of those inquiries can now be directed toward Elle first. If she can’t answer it, she’ll learn how. She even absorbs your policy information, making it a one-stop shop for any policy-related questions your drivers may have while on the road. Think of Elle as a fleet manager’s first line of support – she’s not just the driver’s virtual assistant, she’s everybody’s virtual assistant.

OneScore

Tell your drivers how they’re doing, incentivize them, show them where they can improve – all without lifting a finger. Not only does OneScore do all this and more for your drivers, the aggregate data allows you to see your driver performance from a bird’s eye view. So you can better spot the areas that need the most attention to proactively manage your fleet.

To learn more about how to enhance your driver communications setup, reach out to your account manager today.

You, too, can help teach Elle

When you communicate with Elle, she learns and communicates back. She’s able to ingest policy data, fuel card information and more, just to make life a bit easier for you and your drivers. The only way she gets better, though, is by doing more. So, talk to Elle! More talking means more listening – which means more talking (and problem solving!) for fleet’s first virtual assistant.

Go ahead, put her to the test! You can start with things like:

  • What is my fuel card pin?
  • Can my spouse drive my car?
  • Will my company pay for my car wash?

Click here to check out Elle’s full capabilities.

Over the last two weeks, my fellow bloggers, Kris Bush and Maggie Leark, have both talked about our driver scorecard called OneScore from the perspective of the driver and the fleet manager. This week, I'm going to lift the hood on OneScore a little more and give you a taste of where it's headed.

With ever-rising operating costs, fleet managers are often on the lookout for savings and more efficiencies. The typical challenge revolves around the diminishing returns of going through the same variables repeatedly to no avail, with marginal returns. You can only squeeze a budget so hard before it starts to hurt!

Fleets are hungry for ways to increase productivity, reducing operating expenses and lessening downtime for drivers, that's a fact. OneScore is here to help identify where these tough-to-find- opportunities may be hiding. OneScore is made up of three major buckets of data points – driver safety, efficiency and compliance, where each and every variable is scored against our aggregated internal benchmarks. This framework helps us have more intelligent discussions on what to focus the fleet on to unlock savings.

Our data-centric approach has proven that one of the most neglected fleet-cost villains is in fact the driver behavior itself, regardless of the size of the fleet.

OneScore today – Safety and Telematics

If we are not watching driving behavior carefully, it can easily have a negative impact on a company’s bottom line. Better understanding of key data points can help bring clarity to poor total cost of ownership (TCO), and bring to life agonizing trends and enable fleet managers to take action to stop the "bleeding."

Many of us were awestruck by some of the figures shared by our telematics partner, Geotab, not too long ago. They said employers in the United States collectively pay $60 billion annually for motor vehicle crashes involving their employees in direct expenses – wow! The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that each fatal car crash averages a payout of $500,000. This loss can exceed $1,000,000, depending on the severity and legal outcome.

Sadly, it doesn’t end there. Poor driver behavior can also adversely impact the number of vehicle incidents, driver productivity, vehicle downtime and replacement. Poor driving can also increase fuel and maintenance costs by large percentages, hitting a fleet’s efficiency performance levels. As the saying goes, more is NOT always better. However, in this context, data abundancy bodes well with what we are trying do with OneScore.

Though the world at large is still getting used to the advanced features in today’s cars to keep people safe, more Adaptive Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) data points will bring additional opportunities to connect vehicle data with TCO. With advanced tech like lane and steering assist that beeps [loudly] every time you take your eyes off the road, or when there’s a car right in your blind spot, drivers can get real-time car feedback for corrective action, but so can fleet operators! With embedded technologies becoming more common, carmakers are collecting massive amounts of data from every make and model out there.

A whole bunch of data

It wasn’t too long ago, in the late 1990s, when the first vehicle tracking systems began to emerge with single client-server connectivity. But with the speed of technology advancements, telematics is a prevalent resource to gain insight from fleet drivers and the vehicles they are riding.

It's not hard to gain access to a flood of historical and real-time data these days, but the challenge is how to adequately unpack these vehicle and driver data points while marrying them with other sources of information to make the effort worthwhile.

Connecting the dots – Let's get some actionable insights PLEASE!

It is with enthusiasm that we believe in the opportunity to promote fleet safety and greater fleet efficiencies through gaining a deeper appreciation of this daily “data-rich” alliance between drivers and their wheels. With the MyLeasePlan mobile app, we are gathering relevant connected and non-connected driver and vehicle data and weaving them into OneScore. This is unique in our industry. Some scorecards out there are still static reports – we think that's just not good enough for the modern fleet.

With OneScore, we empower fleet drivers to be the best fleet driver they can be. Because we aggregate OneScore data from any departmental structure or organizational model our clients need, OneScore is also fleet branch friendly. It goes without saying the tool can be seen at an enterprise level, too. Our algorithm-based method tracks, scores and provides feedback to drivers and fleet managers on their performance – and it's more than just safety data. OneScore cuts across performance indicators in three categories – safety, efficiency and compliance – and lets drivers and fleet operators know how they can be safer, more efficient, and in turn, reduce fleet costs.

The process of seamlessly joining all fleet activity into one easy-to-read score with the ability to drill down to see how drivers compare to their peers gives us an opportunity to better communicate with our drivers and determine focus areas.

A window into the future

At LeasePlan, we have taken the extra steps with our development teams to ensure our fleet analysis and data models are permeating into the business rather than nurturing siloed data sources. It is impossible to fully search the data points when you can't work horizontally between different data sources.

Recently, my buddy Greg Buckland, LeasePlan USA's CIO, and I spoke at an AFLA conference about “The Problem with Big Data” and how to turn information into a strategic asset. We discussed a rather healthy approach to “getting dirty” with big data. Talking from experience, we suggested the audience start small. Start by working out what you want to know first, then work out how you're going to get the information. This approach has helped us continue to evolve OneScore into a consultative tool. By elevating fleet performance into a dynamic scoring mechanism, it enables a simple conversation about what matters the most for our clients.

As for what's next – we will be taking OneScore from the responsive to the predictive. It will become not only a window into the present of your fleet, but somewhat of a crystal ball giving you insight into where your fleet's performance is headed, and where to make improvements to change that trajectory!

If you'd like to learn more about our telematics, safety and OneScore solutions just contact us!

About the author

As executive vice president of transformation at LeasePlan USA, Smolka is leading the strategy to drive modernization and innovation across the U.S. subsidiary and launch the company further into its journey to deliver what's next for fleet, mobility and connected vehicles. Smolka's career has consistently revolved around digital transformation, developing cutting-edge technologies and leveraging the power of big data to create and deliver value. With a strong history of successes, Smolka is a proven leader poised to transform the fleet industry. Smolka has an MBA from Emory Goizueta Business School.

 

 

 

*LeasePlan is committed to ensuring we handle customer, business partner and employee data to a high and compliant standard. We were one of the first companies to introduce a set of binding privacy rules across the whole of our organization, and we have established a dedicated Privacy Office to make sure those rules are upheld. But this does not make us complacent. As technology develops and our use of data changes, LeasePlan is continuously working to improve our data protection policies, processes and systems.

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Fleets aren't yet comprised of autonomous vehicles, but they are headed in that direction. In the meantime, technology has advanced greatly in the transportation industry, enabling us to communicate useful information with fleets.

Digital technologies can create major advances in fleet management. What can digital technologies tell you about your company's fleet?

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