Looking into the Crystal Ball
Here are some more of Charles Arsenault’s predictions for the future of fleet service information technology:
- Most fleet maintenance software will continue to be deployed on the fleet’s own system for the near term
- ASP/Web-based software applications will continue to grow in acceptance as IT staffs remain overloaded
- Mergers of fleet technology companies will intensify
- More fleet OEMs and vendors will seek tech partners to differentiate their product/service offerings
- The next generation of fleet managers will expect technology tools
- The fleet maintenance software industry is fragmented, and no absolute leader dominates the industry
- OEMs and parts manufacturers will deliver more technology that integreates with specialty applications like fleet maintenance software
- OEMs will introduce more “tech-based” value-added services that automate labor- and paper-intensive processes
- Technology integreation will remain the greatest challenge but it will also pay the greatest dividends
- Until VMRS coding is used universally, the lack of standard terms and coding will remain a major obstacle to technological integration
- Technology hardware costs will continue to decline
- Outsourcing of fleet technology will become more popular
- More technology service providers will emerge
- The need for better/faster access to data will drive more collaboration between multiple tech firms, OEMs, and local vendors for end-to-end data flow without human intervention
- Fleets and fleet managers who are not using technology will find it harder to compete, and will be left behind
"With every single repair entry, or issue, or item that comes due or past due, it automatically benchmarks it for you, so you can deal only with exceptions, rather than having to deal with every vehicle in your fleet.
"There's a rule that we've found that over the years has worked really well: we call it the Ten Percent Rule. For like equipment, if you take your ten percent highest-cost units, or the ten percent highest-downtime units, and deal only with those, you can reduce your overall operating costs significantly--perhaps as much as 20 percent--and do away with 75 percent of your aggravation. So again, a fleet manager who has access to this information can consistently outperform those who cannot do those types of easy comparisons.
"The majority of fleet managers are embracing this, because their companies have finally recognized that maintenance is one of the last bastions where they can still squeeze the onion and get significantly higher productivity and reduced expense. Because fleet maintenance is a pure expense item, it's not a revenue producer, so the CFOs and controllers and corporate presidents have been more and more identifying that the maintenance department must reduce costs but not give up the quality of work performed, or productivity, because they have to maximize utilization of their equipment.
"So fleet managers are being forced to take control of this information, to reduce expenses, reduce downtime, and provide greater availability of equipment."