By Joel Waithman
Last week, along with Nigel Maund, Walt Fischer and others from Webtech Wireless, I attended NAFA in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I’m sure it’s a fun place in the summer, but in April there wasn’t much to distract me from the trade show (except perhaps a visit to the roulette table).
While at the conference, I attended an excellent presentation called, “Breakthrough Technologies and Future Trends for Fleet Telematics”, which described how telematics is going to impact fleet management in the next few years. The format of the presentation was a panel of four telematics specialists (responsible for huge fleets such as ARI) and a moderator. They fielded about ten questions and spent about ten minutes answering each question, except for one: The big question on everyone’s mind was distracted driving. This topic consumed a whole hour of the presentation time with many people from both commercial and government fleets weighing in on different points. Questions included, “How can we solve it?”, “Are we invading the privacy of the driver?”, and “What applications are available?”
So, gambling may be a fine distraction in Atlantic City, but no one’s gambling on distracted driving. One commenter compared cell phone use while driving to gun ownership. After all, a vehicle is potentially as lethal to operate, so some form of regulation is needed to ensure people use it properly. But is it the responsibility of governments to enforce? Some government operators suggested that unions might resist (unless required to comply by government regulations) while others embraced the idea (particularly commercial operators who shoulder a great deal of responsibility regardless of whether cell phones are used for private or company purposes). Everyone was aware of the Coca-Cola settlement of last year that set a precedent across the board for companies to monitor their drivers’ cell phone habits more closely.
On a lighter note, this year AT&T set up a demo car on the trade show floor equipped to demonstrate the risks of distracted driving. To try it, we put on special goggles that simulated a driver’s view and then we were given a cell phone to type on while driving. The demo could measure our level of distraction using graphs that measured speed fluctuations as we texted. People who tried the simulation were surprised by how distracted they became.
These experiences reminded me how critical our Webtech Wireless MDTs with hands-free voice are to preventing distracted driving. Even our auditory alert warnings (such as on the Accelerometer) to warn of excess speed, braking, and other erratic driving behavior ensure safety by keeping drivers focused on driving rather than texting. There are many ways to be distracted nowadays, but it’s in no one’s interest to gamble on road safety.
Business intelligence tools are designed to retrieve, analyze and report data, and anyone trying to manage a business these days knows this: Data is everywhere. But how do you make sense of it all? On a vast scale, Google’s ability to handle large data sets in an efficiently has contributed $54 billion to the U.S. economy in 2009. Handling data effectively is big business.
At Webtech Wireless, we measure success by how your business implements our telematics solutions. Telematics is data. Data is information. Information allows you to gathering stories about how well your fleet is performing, and knowing how to use these stories is key to running your business better.
Another intelligent way to make sense of a lot of data is to attend a trade show and that’s what we’re doing—this time we’ll be at the NAFA Institute & Expo Show Management running April 23 to 26 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Billed as a “Created BY Fleet Managers FOR Fleet Managers” event,
NAFA’s annual Institute & Expo is known as “the largest event of the fleet management industry”. It’s a great opportunity to network with thousands of fleet professionals and take part in cutting-edge training and education.
We’ve culled through their extensive list of seminars to recommend a few must-see seminars. As well, we found a link so you can easily download a schedule of the entire event (at bottom). If you’re planning on attending 2013 NAFA Institute & Expo, make sure you come see us at booth 728.
10:30 am “Thinking Ahead: Using Remarketing Trends to Forecast the Future”
1:00 pm “Breakthrough Technologies and Future Trends for Fleet Telematics”
10:30 am “Make Better Decisions through the Power of Technology”
3:30 pm “Safety 101 – Using Insurance, Driver Training and Crash Analysis to Manage Fleet Risks”
9:30 am “Getting to the Top: How Fleet Managers Can Gain Access to Executive-Level Decision Makers”
For anyone who saw the irreverent film, Freakonomics (“the hidden side of everything”), knows that we’re now collecting data on a vast scale. The stories that are emerging from all this data are remarkable. Who knew that, with this accumulation of data, we could prove Sumo wrestlers were cheating or that the reasons politicians cited for falling crime rates were wrong?
At the TMW 2012 Transforum this week in Orlando (attended by 1,700 vendors and customers), a key theme was, “how do we draw intelligence from data?” According to TMW Senior Project Manager, Michael Malecha in his session on business improvement, “We have 86% more data than even just two years ago, but how do we draw meaning from it?” He also stated that 93% of CEOs believe they are losing opportunities from a lack of tools to handle this data.
Since all data sets contain noise, the secret is in discerning the noise from the signal. The signal, of course, refers to meaningful trends.
His cautionary message is simple:
Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (speaking neither as politician nor as pastor and pictured above) decried the state of personal accountability when he said, “We’ve created a monster”. Sometimes, the gathering of data can be seen as a monster—Big Brother tracking our every move. But business intelligence (knowing how to draw meaningful conclusions from information), serves the needs of small to medium companies just as it does large—if they know what to do with it.
In order to optimize fleet operations and enhance financial performance, fleet managers often turn to automation. Initially, the desire is for dot-on-a-map visibility of their vehicles. Using GPS/AVL technology, they collect location and sometimes diagnostic data in real-time. As the data accumulates, managers may want to report on it, such as exception reporting to filter out only data that doesn’t conform to expected norms. Data then starts to fulfill a more complex need: analyzing trends to facilitate better cost projections (such as optimizing fuel usage), and route planning. Finally, with data streaming in from multiple third-party sources, they can integrate information to discover complex relationships between external events and internal actions. This is the essence of business intelligence.
TMW CEO, David Wangler, in the general session keynote speech emphasized this point when he said, “It’s no longer the big who eat the small, but the fast who eat the slow”. In other words, becoming leaner and more efficient enables us to outmanoeuver the competition. Your GPS/AVL fleet tracking solution is sending you real-time data that not only provides you with visibility here and now, but down the road, will enable you to see trends and anticipate opportunities.
Perhaps as a fitting representation of the need to draw intelligence from data, the TMW awards gala was warmed up by Jean Francois, the Quebec-based visual artists who drew fantastical pictures for everyone while dinner was served. Accompanied by pulsing rock music, the images appeared abstract and confusing at first until he ceremoniously turned them over (new right-side up) and delighted everyone with images of the Statue of Liberty and a long-haul truck.
We were at the NAFA 2012 trade show (North America Fleet Managers Association) in St. Louis and one of the highlights of the show was the keynote presentation, Making Sense of the Future, given by Dr. Peter Bishop, PhD. Together with other trade show attendees, we gathered in full force and in great anticipation to hear Dr. Bishop provide a wide vision of the future of debt, oil & resources, people and demographics, automotive market and emerging technologies.
Patrick Lizotte, our account manager in Quebec and eastern North America said, “Dr. Bishop invited us to look into change versus sudden change, and our relationship and involvement with technology and computers; that is, how we are evolving and adapting ourselves toward the computer era”.
Some of the topics he presented included:
Dr. Bishop concluded his presentation with a simple two-word recommendation, “Stay Awake”. – Be certain to handle Future and Change.
Dr. Peter Bishop is an associate professor of Human Sciences and chair of the graduate program in Studies of the Future at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. Dr. Bishop specializes in techniques for long-term forecasting and planning. He delivers keynote addresses, conducts seminars on the future for business, government and not-for-profit organizations, and also facilitates groups in developing scenarios, visions and strategic plans for the future.
WebTech Wireless attended the American Public Works Association’s annual Congress & Exposition, held in Boston, Mass., August 15-18. A great turnout and a great opportunity to connect with representatives from municipalities from across North America. Many thanks to our customers who dropped by our stand to see us, and also to those public works professionals looking for an AVL/GPS solution for their fleets that took time to chat with our team. Hope to see you all again next year in Denver.