FMCs are entering a new era, where they are increasingly called upon to be as knowledgeable about data and technology as vehicle models, fuel, and maintenance. Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer Jeanine L. Charlton discusses the latest trends in fleet technology and how FMCs should move toward using technology to improve both fleet performance and financial performance, a powerful combination called “FleetTech.”

Defining FleetTech

The term FleetTech, a combination of the words “fleet” and “technology,” is used when describing tech-based fleet services. While the word FleetTech is not that well known, even among those in the technology and fleet industries, it affects companies that source their fleets on a daily basis. This is an emerging industry that uses technology to improve activities in both fleet and finance.

FleetTech companies are positioned to provide businesses with digital tools that are more scalable. These digital tools are disrupting traditional business models with innovative ideas and software solutions. FleetTech firms are also positioned to pass on savings as they are agile, which allows them to innovate and adapt.

From Reactive to Proactive

In the past, fleet management was reactive, with issues related to driver location, behavior, and vehicle conditions addressed after the fact. Today, thanks to the data produced by the ever-evolving capabilities of telematics, fleet managers can identify issues in near real-time and even take proactive measures to prevent problems from occurring in the first place.

A Shift Toward Data & New Technologies

The FMC landscape is undoubtedly shifting more toward mobile and digital. And to keep pace, institutions and startups alike will have to embrace new technologies. This includes technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) to not only streamline processes but make them more secure. Some of the most advanced AI technology available is now embedded in public cloud platforms.

FMCs will also need to become more digitized with the construction of cloud platforms. Cloud computing aids FMCs to obtain digitalization and more security, and it offers solutions to be more visible and accessible to end users. Ultimately, as we become increasingly connected by the Internet of Things, businesses can maximize the wealth of data available to stay competitive and prepare for future innovation.

Trends in FleetTech

Telematics has become one of the most powerful technological tools in fleet. It can be used to solve a wide variety of challenges, including correcting driving behaviors, creating preventative maintenance schedules, monitoring fuel spend, measuring performance, and diagnosing vehicle conditions that are potential hazards. It can even be used to identify the exact locations of drivers and assets or the fastest and safest routes to job sites. With this level of data available, fleet service providers will transition to become “information providers.” They will become intelligent data aggregators.

Other trends I’m seeing include a shift toward mobile commerce and mobile account management. Fuel management technology is changing, so that the vehicle will capture data from fuel sensors and the purchase device will be more secure. Eventually, on-board connectivity will be a standard option on most models from original equipment manufacturers. We may even start to see Google-like companies offering solutions that include fleet management to businesses.

The Merchants FleetTech Edge

In this innovative and fast-moving field, yesterday’s trends become today’s realities. Change is the name of the game, and if you strive to only keep up, you’ll fall behind fast.

At Merchants Fleet, we want to differentiate ourselves by selling convenience, which has and will continue to allow us to provide clients with the most high-touch service and innovative experience across the industry. Our unique technology platforms coupled with specialized fleet teams provide the most comprehensive FleetTech solutions to drive proven results.

Jeanine L. Charlton serves as Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer [CTO] at Merchants Fleet. She provides strategic leadership to all Merchants Fleet technology initiatives, to include the innovative and proprietary fleet management software – Merchants TotalView. She is focused on positioning the company for technological advancement and continued growth while creating a culture that celebrates innovation and collaboration.