Big data is revolutionising practically every area of modern life, from the social interactions we have with each other to the financial transactions that happen on trading floors.

It is also revolutionising motoring. Many vans are now fitted with telematics systems that collect data on everything from driver performance to fuel consumption. When this data is correctly analysed and used, it can deliver huge benefits to fleets and their employees.
Despite this, some fleets could be overlooking the importance of telematics.

LeasePlan and What Van? recently surveyed commercial vehicle decision-makers to discover the challenges they face, and which they regard as the most urgent.

Costs and compliance came at the top of the list. Telematics plus data reporting and analysis were at the bottom.  

Yet data-driven insight should underpin any future-proofed fleet. The truth is that telematics can help immensely with cost and compliance, along with many other challenges.

Fuel spending is a good example. Telematics systems not only provide accurate data on efficiency and emissions, they can also identify different routes with fewer wasted miles.

Indeed, according to a report published by the Energy Saving Trust, telematics can cut both fuel use and CO2 emissions by 15%.       

And what about driver safety? Telematics mean that companies can keep an eye on their drivers, even when those drivers are out of the office and out on the roads. This way, bad habits can be spotted, and fixed, before they develop into something worse – which improves safety and wellbeing all round. It’s no wonder that LeasePlan research found that drivers are becoming more and more comfortable with telematics in their vehicles.

The crucial point is that data needs to be acted upon. It’s no use having a telematics system to identify a driver’s weaknesses if those weaknesses are not then corrected through extra training. The human side of big data – having people who understand the numbers, and then do something about them – is as important as the technological side.

When those two sides are working well alongside each other, telematics systems really are revolutionary. It used to be the case that companies had to make lots of decisions based on industry-wide generalisations; nowadays, a fleet manager can make decisions based on their fleet’s actual performance. Welcome to the Age of Specifics.

Plan for the Future is produced in association with LeasePlan.