TURNING BIG DATA INTO ACTIONABLE INFORMATION
Big Data has become a buzzword in business management, but it’s much more than a vague concept or idea. Big Data can be of big help to fleet managers and/or fleet owners. Utilizing Big Data can help increase profits, decrease expenses, and better manage fleet productivity. The only question is: How do you turn Big Data into actionable information for tangible results? Kelly Frey, VP of product marketing for Telogis, discusses how to turn Big Data into actionable information to benefit your company, your fleet, and your customers.
MWS: BIG DATA IS A BIG BUZZWORD—IN YOUR PERSPECTIVE, WHAT IS IT?
Big Data has become big business as businesses mine data for insights that can help identify trends, predict behavior, and empower decision makers. More important is turning that data into real value with analytics and having the ability to use that intelligence to gain a desired business outcome. The Internet of Things (IoT) is creating new use cases and possibilities that were inconceivable just a few years ago. At Telogis, we often talk about “Connected Intelligence,” which is the ability to gain insights and make better decisions by connecting everything in a mobile enterprise—vehicles, equipment (mobile and fixed), mobile devices, and people—as well as the work itself—intelligent sensors and internal and external data feeds. Collecting real-time position data and precise operational information in time increments from all of these sources is really the definition of Big Data—driving billions and billions of data points every single day into our servers. Our customers rely on us to securely collect this data 24/7 and turn it into actionable information so they can make more informed business decisions to reduce costs, improve response times, and meet customer expectations, all while keeping their people safe. We are at the epicenter of the Big Data revolution and we are excited by the potential of using this information and insight to help our customers transform the way they are doing business and even develop new business models.
MWS: WHAT IS THE BIGGEST BENEFIT OF BIG DATA FOR FLEETS? WHAT’S THE BIGGEST DRAWBACK?
The benefits of Big Data for fleets create endless opportunities and are highly dependent upon each use case. The main benefit is in being able to make more informed operational decisions. For example, we had a large electric utility fleet with more than 20,000 vehicles that was analyzing their vehicle damage claims when they noticed an unusually large amount of damage claims on the right front quarter panel of their trucks. Matching up the damage claim data with the vehicle type, specification, and operating unit information, they were able to determine that there was a correlation between trucks with shorter boom lengths that were working on lighting repair jobs. It turns out that the trucks with shorter booms had to cozy up a lot closer to lighting poles than trucks with longer booms for each bucket to reach the top of the power pole. They would therefore be more prone to damage—not to mention making the truck more unstable and potentially increasing the risk to the crew operator. So, even though the shorter boom saved them several hundred dollars at the time of acquisition, it was ultimately resulting in larger downstream damage claims and increased safety risk. By quickly analyzing the Big Data they had available, they were able to determine the root cause in a matter of minutes.
The biggest drawback of Big Data for fleets may be the potential for data overload—when you can’t see the forest for the trees. However, this can be easily overcome with simple to use dashboards and automated reports to gain insights. Telogis provides professional services to help companies analyze and manage the connected intelligence from Big Data. Increasingly, the solutions we employ take the guesswork out of Big Data and help suggest improvements or opportunities to change behaviors before companies even know there is an issue.
MWS: HOW ARE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL FLEETS USING BIG DATA?
The most successful fleets are using Big Data as one more weapon in their arsenal to gain insights into their business and derive information about something they may not have been able to easily analyze before. An example of a best practice that smarter fleets are employing is the ability to automatically turn Big Data into actionable information that can be used to trigger a workflow event. For example, when certain diagnostic fault codes are reported by a vehicle engine and picked up by the our software platform, it generates an alert to the back office and automatically schedules a maintenance reminder or service ticket for the maintenance staff the next time that vehicle is automatically detected in the vicinity (with a geofence when the truck re-enters the yard). Another example is using a Telogis “scripted alert” to automatically reduce the posted road speed threshold alert (an in-cab buzzer to alert drivers of safety concerns) by 10 percent when the windshield wipers are engaged and the lights are on—indicating it is raining or snowing and is dark—so that safety metrics are applied to the current conditions.
MWS: HOW CAN FLEET MANAGERS WHO ARE FEELING A BIT OVERWHELMED DEALING WITH BIG DATA GET A HANDLE ON IT?
Getting a handle on Big Data really comes down to selecting the right partner. We cannot expect the fleet manager to be able to consume all the data and identify trends and predict behavior while still working to empower decision makers. They already have their hands full with lots of other things that demand their constant attention. As solution providers, we need to make sure that we are consolidating the right data and turning it into actionable information that allows the fleet manager to make better informed decisions or to help automate business workflows that eliminate the need for the fleet manager to micromanage the process—other than setting tolerances and policies and overseeing quality. The opportunity exists to multiply the fleet managers’ efficacy and productivity in managing the fleet by making Big Data—and the actionable data it provides—another very useful tool in their belt.
MWS: HOW DO YOU TURN BIG DATA INTO ACTIONABLE DATA?
Turning Big Data into real value with analytics and the ability to use that intelligence to gain a desired business outcome boils down to automation. Automating the collection of the data and how it is presented to the back office and to the drivers is paramount. Getting the right data into the hands of the right person at the right moment to make the right decision is the ultimate goal of Big Data. Sometimes that means we want to put the data into an executive dashboard for easy consumption in real time, or perhaps into a scheduled report that automatically goes to divisional managers every night or week, or perhaps gathered and presented on an iPad or an iPhone so the driver can see how they are doing versus the company KPIs. Telogis Coach is a mobile gamification app that uses metrics derived from the Big Data a company is pulling, and creates a snapshot or leaderboard for workers in the field. The ultimate goal is to create friendly competition among teams to improve performance metrics the company sets and empower people to be competitive against each other to be the best—it’s hugely motivating, and we’ve seen super rapid adoption of Telogis Coach in the last year or so.
MWS: WHAT’S THE FUTURE OF BIG DATA—IS THIS SIMPLY THE GATEWAY TO THE IOT AND/OR WILL IT OPEN OTHER DOORS FOR FLEET MANAGERS?
One could argue that the IoT is really the precursor to Big Data—it’s what is driving the trend to gather more and more data from all devices. Big Data opens up other opportunities for fleet managers to be business analysts and cross-functional executives. This creates an opportunity for the fleet manager to make better and more strategic decisions that have impact beyond just fleet operations—to other areas like customer service and finance and human resources that can benefit from a better understanding of Big Data flowing in from the field and the fleet itself. Big Data and the IoT are creating new use cases and possibilities that were inconceivable just a few years ago. The result is teaming with the right field-proven connected solution partner and turning Big Data into real value with analytics and the ability to use that intelligence to save money and run a better business.
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