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Experienced fleet managers vital for mobility shift

Skilled fleet and travel managers are key to helping businesses make the shift to technology-driven mobility management.

Having an experienced fleet manager will prove key in the shift to mobility, says ACFO

Having an experienced fleet manager will prove key in the shift to mobility, says ACFO

So said experts at ACFO’s spring seminar on 18 May in Birmingham, which looked at future fleet issues, including the evolution of the fleet sector from vehicle management to mobility management.

Speaking at the event, a number of fleet industry specialists outlined how technology is playing an ever-greater role in fleets – including Thomas Schmidt, managing director, TomTom Telematics, who said fleet management was transitioning to become “a fully connected business” with telematics technology supporting numerous areas of operation for organisations including: Fleet efficiency and vehicle utilisation, driver support, fuel management, legislative compliance and delivering improved customer satisfaction.

Meanwhile Alison Moriarty, fleet, risk and compliance manager at Skanska UK – one of the world’s leading project development and construction companies, called on fleet managers to “move forward at the same pace as technology”, outlining how they should use technology-based data to rewrite procedures.

Echoing their comments, ACFO national chairman John Pryor said that the information delivered by technology must be professionally managed in an ever-more complex business sector.

Calling on businesses to utilise experienced fleet managers as they morphed into mobility managers, Pryor told seminar delegates that the changes made by organisations to how they operated their fleets in recent years were “huge”.

However, he added: “This is perhaps just the tip of the iceberg. How we operate and the tools we can now get to help that operation has never been so diverse. Technology has never supported fleets to the degree it does today and this will only increase.”

But, he warned in the changing world of mobility management, when some businesses may not operate company cars, there was still a requirement for employees to travel.

“If businesses do not see the requirement for this to be professionally managed, they will lose their most vital tool: experience,” said Pryor. “It is all about supporting your business to operate as quickly, efficiently and cost effectively as possible.

“The loss of expertise will also come to affect business. Fleet and the future mobility arena need a co-ordinated approach.”

George de Boer, leader of connected car initiatives at TomTom Telematics, echoed his comments: “In the past fleet managers only took care of vehicles, but they are becoming responsible for all methods of travel.”

What’s more, in a changing employment world, he said: “Today’s younger employees don’t always want to have a company car, they want mobility.”

Highlighting that many cost areas relating to fleet and travel – for example, overnight hotel accommodation and taxi bills – fell into silos within businesses with no single employee necessarily having a clear overview, de Boer said: “It is very cost-effective for businesses to see fleet managers become mobility managers. If organisations continue to have silos they will never get a transparent overview of cost.”

Stressing that the future was “autonomous, electric and connected vehicles”, de Boer concluded: “With connected car technology mobility managers can access information about drivers.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.