MiX Telematics: data to drive efficiency – Charles Tasker
With fuel prices rising and regulation becoming increasinglytough, finance directors are more receptive to telematics services than ever before. Finance Director Europe speaks with Charles Tasker, executive director at MiX Telematics, about getting the right information to boost efficiency.
It's no secret that managing a fleet can be expensive. Take a look at the world around, and it's quickly apparent that costs are rising. Fuel prices - the main operational expense for fleets - keep on going up, and regulatory pressures show no signs of subsiding either.
This poses obvious problems for finance directors, who face potentially difficult budgetary decisions. The pressure to operate in a more efficient, cost-effective manner means that running vehicles efficiently is key. Having the right data and information can, according to Charles Tasker, executive director at MiX Telematics, make all the difference.
"Organisations need information that can make an impact," he says. "By driving more efficiently, more safely and by using all of those elements that responsible corporations are interested in, companies can save or make more money. Reducing the environmental impact of these fleets and making them more efficient is paramount. Ultimately, it's about doing more with less."
Over the years, the company has seen attitudes evolve dramatically - particularly among finance directors.
"In years gone by, we had to evangelise much harder about what the benefits were and explain to people what value they can derive from telematics," Tasker says. "In more recent times, we've seen more savvy customers just get it immediately. They've either had experience with telematics or they understand what the benefits are very quickly.
"I remember, in years gone by, talking to German customers, who were more conservative as to what business information they put on the internet," he continues. "Today, that's not even a discussion. 'Software as a service' is a global macro trend that people accept as a very efficient way of consuming services and driving efficiencies.
"It's no longer a case of whether or not one applies technology to the problems of making the fleet more efficient. It really is a case of what services one chooses to use."
The cost savings are potentially dramatic. Governments around the world are increasingly concerned about the vehicles on their roads, introducing tolls aimed at reducing congestion and placing obligations on corporate citizens to show care to the safety and well-being of drivers.
C.J. Driscoll & Associates' recent survey of US fleet managers found that most operators using telematics solutions see a strong return on their investment within 12 months. Fuel savings of 5-8% can be achieved from day one thanks to information provided that reduces idling. Other savings can be gained by reducing maintenance costs and the risk of accidents.
"Look at the bus and coach industry in Europe, for example," Tasker says. "By having the crucial information about events such as excessive idling, harsh acceleration and harsh braking, you can instantly start to give to the customer information that they can action to get those immediate savings of anywhere between 7 and 15%.
"Of course, having data is only part of the solution. It's great, but one has to analyse them and initiate the appropriate action to achieve certain goals. It therefore also depends on how ready the customer is to action the information provided."
A fleet of products
MiX Telematics is a global telematics provider that has been in business for almost 20 years, operating and selling its products and services in 112 different countries. The company has a broad product portfolio that covers a wide spectrum of the telematics market, from simple track and trace consumer-style products for smaller fleets right through to solutions for larger-enterprise customers with more complex needs.
"We can deliver real benefits for large multinationals and regional customers alike," says Tasker. "And things are getting even better. Only last year, we listed on the New York Stock Exchange, adding even more credibility to our leadership position in the industry.
"It's all about understanding the customer's requirements and fulfilling whatever those requirements are," he concludes. "We work at a pace that the customer's organisation can adapt to, absorbing new information in a way that suits them."