TELEMATICS AND THE RISE OF ENTERPRISE MVNOs
The industry is booming for telematics services, from single-focus companies to OEM inclusion of telematics systems from the line to the lot. Telematics software is great for everything from mandate compliance to safety, maintenance to tracking, and a host of in-betweens. But, you might want to ask yourself something: Who are you using to provide connectivity with these programs and are you paying too much? Rob Chamberlin, co-founder and chief revenue officer for DataXoom, shares his insight on the telematics industry and the connectivity within.
MWS: WHAT ARE MVNOs AND HOW IS DATAXOOM SET APART FROM OTHER MVNOs?
Most MVNOs are companies that buy capacity on a wholesale basis from wireless carriers, then repackage the services under their own brand. The key thing an MVNO leverages is wireless infrastructure from one of the big wireless carriers, providing services above and beyond what the carriers provide to their customers directly, or focusing on a particular part of the industry that isn’t well-served. DataXoom’s sole focus is on mid-market and enterprise customers—we only sell to business.
What DataXoom does—the unique value that we add—is offering a multi-carrier platform to our business customers. We can provide connectivity across three of the four major wireless carriers in the US to eliminate gaps and increase mobile coverage, all on one interface, with one bill, and with terms and services that are business-friendly. Our pricing is all-inclusive, we don’t have contracts, and we never charge termination fees. That makes it easier for a fleet manager to turn off or on connectivity in vehicles with DataXoom relative to what it might be through a retail carrier.
Historically, telematics is sort of an adjunct to what DataXoom’s core capabilities are, which is providing businesses with best-in-class access to the wireless networks. What we’ve seen in the last year is that within our world—which is high-bandwidth mobile use cases, primarily via tablets and other data-centric devices—it feels like the telematics industry is sort of moving away from a black box model—or certainly supplementing it—and moving to a solution that is more frequently tablet-based and focused on the mobile worker and not the vehicle itself. It’s a major shift. Certainly, it’s a space that’s investing heavily in technology and there are a lot of government regulations and mandates encouraging companies to do so.
MWS: HOW IS THE ELD MANDATE AFFECTING THE TELEMATICS INDUSTRY IN TERMS OF INCREASED SELLS OR ACCOMMODATION?
Certainly, some providers are light years ahead on hours of service (HOS) functionality, so those companies are winning market share right now. It’s kind of surprising to me that, based on that mandate coming down, not everybody has that module really “fully-baked.” So, we’re seeing certain ISVs that are solving business problems for transportation companies today with a complete ELD and HOS offering, delivered via a LTE enabled tablet. There has been more competition and pressure on margins, particularly on the equipment side of the telematics industry, so this change is good for both telematics providers and their customers. I also think there are some clear winners, from a platform perspective, and those folks are likely candidates to be acquired in the near term—like what happened with both Telogis and Fleetmatics.
MWS: HOW DO BANDWIDTH AND DATA AVAILABILITY FACTOR INTO TELEMATICS PROGRAMS?
One thing we’re seeing more of is a transformation from megabytes to gigabytes of data—more and more mobile data is being consumed each year. We’re seeing an increase of ease of use and training within telematics, particularly in the areas around vocational fleets—equipment isn’t standardized, the training can be challenging, and I think tablet-based solutions speak to a lot of those issues quite well. That’s the broader picture we’re seeing that mobile data and wireless bandwidth are a part of the best-in-class solutions.
MWS: DO YOU THINK OEM TELEMATICS SYSTEMS ARE AS COMPREHENSIVE AS THOSE SOLD BY CENTRALLY FOCUSED TELEMATICS COMPANIES?
In the same way that traditional telematics is moving away from the black box, I think OEMs are probably looking at the same kind of model; incorporating a Samsung device or an Apple device to provide a more robust solution.
Today, I think OEMs are probably not quite as good. The baked-in systems, I think, inherently are sort of a generation behind the market in the best case. But, some of these new initiatives that we’re engaged with, where OEMs are looking to leverage newer tablet technology, I think that levels the playing field, certainly.
MWS: HOW ARE YOU COMBATING ANY RESISTANCE AGAINST MVNOs?
We’re trying to educate the marketplace that the enterprise MVNO category exists. Businesses could potentially save 25 to 30 percent off the top line and enjoy a higher level or service with a company like ours. I think when people look at our client base, the press and industry awards we’ve received, and the number of years in enterprise mobility that the personnel have collectively, there’s some level of comfort. Also, we adopted a channel strategy—getting a line with telematics ISVs for IT resellers. So, if a trusted telematics partner comes in, that partner can make a powerful value proposition for the end customer regarding connectivity and coverage through DataXoom. We’re aligned with Synnex, which is one of the largest IT distributors in the US, and we’re about announce a partnership with another major IT Distributor in November. We’re having some really interesting discussions with major players in the space, be it OEMs or ISVs, so I think we’re on the forefront of a big trend.
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Find out more about DataXoom and its services, visit www.dataxoom.com.