The phrase “Business Intelligence” is not new to the corporate world or the fleet transportation industry. However, a surprising number of industry professionals aren’t maximizing Business Intelligence and the real stigma is that it is truly costing companies many millions of dollars in available operating costs.

Business Intelligence is a technology-driven set of data and analytics that turns raw information into actionable insights, so that industry professionals can make educated decisions designed to improve their bottom line. Transportation fleets of all types and sizes have the potential to benefit from Business Intelligence to drive key performance indicators (KPIs) such as fuel spend, vehicle performance, maintenance and repair, amortization and finance expenses, as well as equipment resale opportunities and other critical data that impact the total cost of ownership or the total cost per mile.

Data-driven Business Intelligence provides information from trucks using methods that until recently did not exist. Most importantly, Business Intelligence and analytics present the data in a meaningful way so that fleet managers can take immediate action and use it for predictive modelling and even future budgeting.

Aside from the information gathering process, when implemented effectively, the most advantageous feature of BI is an easy-to-digest, visually appealing and intuitive dashboard of information that helps fleets measure progress against specific benchmarks. The dashboards should display accurate, real-time information critical to measuring the fleet’s success. Instant access to selected KPIs increases efficiencies and reduces time typically spent analyzing a myriad of spreadsheets that have little meaning individually, but in a collective context can help meet corporate goals. More importantly, the ability of the data to tell a story so that fleet executives can easily process and share the information in cohesive reports with multiple stakeholders, enables greater understanding and collaboration within the entire organization.

Where are the fleets missing the mark? There is an old saying, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”. Business intelligence is a significant part of the paradigm shift taking place in the transportation industry today.

Fleet Advantage recently conducted a survey that was presented to 500 professionals in the fleet industry and 45% stated that they were unsure of the operational savings from the new technologies implemented in their fleet.

The survey also pointed out that nearly a third of executives have not implemented new features such as aerodynamic mirrors and cab extenders because they haven’t processed data that can prove their value. They may have the information, but the data is not giving them a meaningful result, such as Return on Capital Employed (ROCE).

Transportation executives can measure the impact of truck specification changes to the bottom line by properly analyzing outcomes. Although the variety, volume and velocity of data can make it difficult to digest, we now have the means to decipher that data into actionable business intelligence. 

Having a method of aggregating the data, appropriate algorithms to determine its effectiveness, and a concise process for capturing and measuring fleet performance and costs makes operating costs much easier to manage. Then it’s an easy calculation to determine the return on equipment investment dollars or capital employed in a form and manner readily understood by the finance stakeholder in their organization.  This makes it simpler to access capital for fleet modernization.

This article was written by John Flynn, CEO of Fleet Advantage for the Fleet Owner IdeaXchange.