Opinion

The five spinning plates of Global Fleet Management

5 Global Fleet Management megatrends

Being a Global Fleet Manager feels a bit like performing that circus trick spinning plates on sticks. Both jobs require a strong focus on multiple subjects. The crucial point is to know which plates to spin! Here are the five megatrends shaping the future of Global Fleet Management today. 

In a way, Global Fleet Management is very simple and straightforward. Yes, the geographic scope may evolve and yes, the strategic objectives will shift. The bottom-line, however, remains the same: Establish, implement and manage an international vehicle fleet, in a cost-efficient manner that keeps both executives and employees happy.

That’s good to keep in mind. But there’s a daily avalanche of information coming at you: fast-paced changes in fields as diverse as technology, legislation and the economy – as they pertain to mobility and transportation specifically, and more generally to urban development and sustainability.

There is a danger that the signal of change gets lost in the noise of news. It is therefore important, as was also discussed at the recent Global Fleet Conference in Rome, to keep an eye on the megatrends that are transforming Global Fleet Management. Here are the five main ones:

1. Mobility

The time that Fleet could quietly work in a silo of its own is over. The Fleet approach is giving way to a more holistic Mobility approach. Organisationally, this means that Procurement – typically the lead for Fleet – will see growing involvement of HR, Legal and HSE. Operationally, it means that Fleet and Travel will start to merge. This despite the fact that the Fleet category deals with longer-term contracts for a limited number of assets, and the Travel category is about shorter-term engagements based on ad-hoc needs.

2. Employee expectations

Flexibility is the key concept in serving employee mobility needs. Consumers increasingly expect retail offers to adapt to their individual requirements. This mainstreaming of flexibility will have a profound effect, especially as a new generation enters the workforce. Employees will want mobility solutions tailored to their unique needs, and compensation packages will have to reflect that. In this new era of tailored employee mobility, HR will become an increasingly relevant player.

3. 'Right-fuelling'

Electrification is not the only way forward. The combined pressures of CSR, cost-efficiency and stricter emissions rules are pushing a drive towards electrification (and, to a much lesser extent, other alternative motorisations), in fleets across the world. There are also pull factors: an increasingly attractive range of EV models, and better charging infrastructure – not to mention various subsidies and other legal advantages. Yet it is prudent to view the rush towards electrification in context: it will be more appropriate in some countries and under some conditions than in others. ‘Right-fuelling’ means not losing sight of the fact that diesel and petrol in many cases remain the better choices.

4. Telematics

The benefits of Big Data increase, while its threats to privacy diminish. Would concerns about data privacy destroy any opportunities for telematics to contribute to fleet efficiency? That question, so prevalent when Big Data first became an issue in the fleet industry, has been answered – in favour of telematics.

One the one hand, there are just too many advantages to accurate vehicle data measurement: increased safety, better fuel efficiency, higher productivity. On the other hand, acceptance of telematics in fleets is growing, both with end users and authorities.

This is because GDPR and other data privacy regulations impose greater clarity on what is and isn’t allowed, and tech companies and fleet and mobility suppliers get more sophisticated about data capture and use. For example by anonymising data, or erasing it as soon as you quit a certain mobility mode or data supplier.

5. Pay-per-use

The era of the long-term, fixed-price contract is over. Technology is making it possible, changing consumer behaviour is making it popular, and the search for cost-efficiency will make it the next paradigm in mobility: pay-per-use. Long-term, fixed-price contracts may offer the advantage of certainty and security, but that system’s in-built inefficiencies are increasingly obvious – and easy to overcome. Formulas like short-term lease, mobility budgets and Mobility as a Service all share the same direction – towards a system in which customers have a wide choice of mobility options, and only pay for what they effectively use, and when.

The Fleet Europe Summit is the next must-attend event for international fleet and mobility managers, on 27-28 November in Barcelona. Register now to learn all about the latest trends and developments in fleet and mobility management.

Image: plate spinning in Beijing, China, 2009

Author: Caroline Thonnon & Steven Schoefs