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Digital technology has been reshaping the business landscape for decades, creating new business models, improving productivity, and revolutionizing the way companies interact with their customers, workers, vehicles and equipment. And as we look to the future, businesses from local plumbers to global enterprises face the same decision: embrace the digital transformation or be left behind. But what exactly is in store for small businesses in the near future, and what technologies will enable them to make digital transformation a reality?
In this new blog series, we’re taking a look at some up-and-coming trends in technology, where they are headed, and most importantly, show small businesses how to make the right moves today to enable future success.
Connectivity: Navigating the Vehicle of the Future
We are approaching the day when virtually every vehicle and asset purchased by businesses large and small will be connected to the internet. In fact, by 2020, approximately one in five vehicles on the world’s roads will have some form of wireless network connection,1 and businesses will employ nearly 37 percent of the 8.4 billion connected things in 2017, representing a hardware investment of a whopping $964 billion.2 This growth is being driven by:
- The continued reduction in the cost of connectivity
- Feature-rich cloud computing solutions
- The availability of inexpensive and reliable sensors
Next-generation vehicle connectivity relies on a mix of both built-in and aftermarket technologies. Today, most commercial vehicles come equipped with a factory-fit embedded telematics platform – for example, Ford has announced that by 2019, 100 percent of its U.S. vehicles will be built with connectivity, and by 2020, 90 percent of its new global vehicles will be connected.3
In the meantime, those vehicles that do not yet feature factory-installed telematics solutions are able to rely on aftermarket GPS fleet tracking products. These devices can be easily tied in to an existing network to work seamlessly alongside built-in products, creating a stream of information that can be fed into a central data-management system.
Some of the benefits of a greater number of connected vehicles include access to comprehensive information that can help businesses:
- Better serve their customers
- Create additional efficiency and productivity
- Promote safer habits for workers and drivers
- Manage a reliable return on assets and vehicles
The Role of Telematics: Driver Safety & Assistance
Telematics technology has traditionally enabled location-based services to help improve the performance of fleets, including monitoring vehicle information, tracking driver performance and analyzing route information. Other advantages of a telematics solution include helping to control vehicle maintenance costs and facilitate greater employee and customer satisfaction. The connected vehicle is going to be a better-maintained vehicle: and a better-maintained vehicle is a safer one – which is a huge priority for today’s on-the-go small business.
Additionally, driver assistance technologies such as collision avoidance and lane departure alerts are being built in at the OEM level – and telematics technology enables businesses to gather that data and make it actionable to monitor driver performance and keep drivers safer on the road. The right fleet management solution provides a unique opportunity to correct unsafe driving behaviors, which can help decrease the chances of being involved in a serious accident.
The Future of Connectivity & Componentization
The next phase of vehicle connectivity will be focused on componentization, connecting all assets and products down to the component level to enable better performance and safer operations. For example, vehicle engines and transmissions will soon be connected to the Internet, allowing companies much more insight into how they are behaving, so they can be tuned in near real time. This will then allow for better fuel efficiency and performance based on the type of load that is being hauled or terrain on which the vehicle is being driven. And with fuel prices on the rise, every gallon saved can have a big impact on the bottom line of small businesses.
In the near future, telematics will also be tied to smart city technology such as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I – which is expected to bring a myriad of benefits to businesses. Using cellular communications to assess system performance in near real time, intelligent traffic management systems will reduce driver stops and adapt signals to smooth traffic flow, helping travelers and commuters spend less time traveling and businesses more efficient and productive.
While not everything is connected today, by equally accommodating built-in and aftermarket technologies, small businesses can see enhanced efficiency, customer satisfaction and driver safety. This leads to better maintained vehicles, more day-to-day efficiency and enhanced safety for drivers on the road. To find out more on how best-in-class companies can prepare today to harness the promise of increased connectivity, download our newest eBook here.