Do you remember your first "real" job? With only a few days warning, and less than two weeks of training, I went from the receptionist to the fleet administrator for a 1,000+ truck fleet. And this began my adventure into the fleet world.

Mounds of paper
When I entered the fleet industry, paper was the norm at my company. Although society had begun the shift to digital, it was still slowly making its way into fleet. It seemed like everything was done the old-fashioned way and required lots of manual review time.

We received multiple monthly invoices that had to be checked for accuracy – a task that was incredibly time-consuming with no guarantee that items weren't overlooked. And we managed our inventory with seemingly endless stack of papers.

While the shift from paper to digital had already begun, our system of hard copies remained at the forefront. Going completely digital – aka getting rid of paper – was still a scary thought for most people.

Welcome to the digital world
Over the years, we gradually shifted to digital systems. Invoices began to come electronically, which was nice since no one enjoyed flipping through a 100-page invoice to check each line item. Records were kept for new-vehicle orders in an electronic format, further simplifying the process.

Fleet management companies also made big changes, adding features like vehicle pick-up requests and note keeping to individual vehicle records that could be done with a few simple clicks of a mouse.

After seven years in the fleet industry, I made the switch to work at one of the fleet companies I engaged with during my time as a fleet manager – LeasePlan USA. Here, I have had the opportunity to see these advancements on an even higher level.

Welcome to the mobility world
With the rise of technological advancements in fleet such as connected vehicles, the rollout of even bigger and better online reporting began to emerge, and solutions like electronic tolls and violations management became possible. And with the introduction and adoption of mobile technology, the fleet management industry began to actively participate in the digital transformation the rest of the world was already experiencing.

Now, more than a decade since my start in fleet management, digital transformation has continued to advance at an ever-increasing rate. We are seeing the rise of autonomous vehicles, bigger and better analytics (more on this later) and mobility services are transforming fleet operations.

Those who are in the industry, both on the provider and the customer side, are going to have to expand their definitions of what makes up a "fleet" in this new world of mobility. Fleet companies will continue to innovate. And fleet managers will continue to explore new ways of keeping their fleet mobile, while focusing on the safety of their drivers and the impact on their budgets. And this probably means looking at the bigger picture to include total cost of mobility instead of just total cost of ownership.

Mobile technology: a game changer
Ten years ago, the smart phone was in its infancy. Now, it seems to be the driving force behind most of our lives, managing everything from our bank accounts, to our calendars, to our order at Starbucks.

With the advancement of mobile technology, applications that free fleet managers from their desks have emerged. Fleet managers can now monitor their fleet activities from a mobile app – something that barely seemed feasible just a decade ago.

Perhaps more importantly, this development has given drivers the ability to remain focused on their jobs by integrating tasks directly into their mobile phone. Things like getting their license and registration data submitted, reporting personal mileage and even getting vehicle order updates can be done from a mobile device through an app like MyLeasePlan.

This digital transformation has made it possible for fleet managers and fleet drivers to accomplish more in less time. In turn, it has helped companies find ways to reduce the cost of managing a fleet in an environment where the cost of running a fleet vehicle will most likely increase. For example, with our new interactive dashboards, you can see all your fleet data in one place to help you make decisions about your future, based on your past and present. If only I'd had that data at my fingertips to help me understand performance instead of paper and spreadsheets when I was starting my career!

In a nutshell
Digital tools are transforming our lives, both personally and professionally. I have been privileged to witness the changes first hand. I can only hope others are as excited as I am by what's happening in the fleet industry and what's next.

Are you ready for the transformation? Contact us today if you need some help navigating this new and exciting fleet world we live in.