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At what point does big data become useful insight?

At what point does big data become useful insight?

Business intelligence, data visualisation, real-time analytics… the ability to make use of big data is a discussion point high on the agenda across every industry. Indeed, for transport operators, big data in the form of telematics data has been available for many years. But at what point does data become information and insight, and how do fleet managers move from simply managing data, to managing the fleet operation using information and insight gained from the data?

Already largely considered an intrinsic tool of fleet management, telematics data on a vehicle’s location, status and how long a journey has taken has been of around for more than a decade. The data has been useful in keeping track of vehicles and, to an extent, keeping drivers in check too. But this is only scratching the surface of its capabilities today. Time and technology has moved on, and as fleet managers see the benefits of going paperless with more and more of their processes, the opportunities to mine data from their combined insight can be transformational.

Using telematics with a routing and scheduling system, for example, not only allows the fleet manager to see where a vehicle is, it enables them to compare this to where it should be. New jobs can be added in real time or corrective action can then be taken to re-route a vehicle to keep to a committed delivery time, or warn the customer in advance should the driver be running late - making the vehicle location data useful.

Streamlining fleet operations with route planning software will also minimise costs by reducing the miles driven, the fuel consumed, and the vehicle servicing and maintenance necessary as a result. Combined with telematics data, it can be used for continuous background route optimisation; rather than relying on manual updates of drivers’ hours information, a direct feed from the electronic driver hours solution into the paperless route planning software ensures this key criterion is included within the planning process by default.

With this aspect of the process automatically taken into account, the schedule can be planned far more efficiently – there is no need for drivers to park up in laybys for a rest or to wait for delivery slots due to the excessive drivers’ hours contingency built into the schedule. At a time when online customer convenience is king, this enables retailers to offer a next level of costed and dynamic delivery options that are no longer a race to the bottom, but that are generating a healthy profit instead.

Finally, telematics data also plays an invaluable role in a transport manager’s compliance remit. Combined with compliance management technology, drivers’ hours can be tracked, driving licences and CPC verified and pre-journey vehicle inspections made visible, helping transport managers to not only ensure their drivers and vehicles are compliant, but to prove it and take corrective and timely action accordingly. To help transport operators to not only manage compliance data, but to manage the exceptions to this compliance data, automatic email alerts can be set up, via Descartes SmartAlerts, to alert road transport operators to possible infringements ahead of them becoming an issue.

So, while data isn’t new to fleet operations, the possibilities available for transforming it into tangible business benefits are only just beginning. Find out more about how you can use your data to revolutionise your operations.