Interviews
14 Aug 20

Connector Expands in Asia-Pacific

Global consultancy group Connector has expanded their network in the APAC region, announcing this week the addition of four new partner experts. Managing Director Yves Helven said that “We’ve seen a large increase in activity since the launch of CMaaS, a fully integrated corporate mobility solution. Following on from that, we’ve taken a decision to step up our presence in the region.”

CMaaS launched in February 2020 at Fleet Europe’s Smart Mobility Institute in Brussels. Helven says that the initial reaction was very strong and continued after the onset of the Corona. “Immediately after we launched, we had a lot of queries from companies interested in digitisation, mobility, sustainability and increasing their vehicle utilisation. The pandemic has only accelerated that trend and expanded it into other regions.”

Driving Post Corona Trends into Australia

APAC Director, Shane Curran picks up the story and explains, “I think many companies took some time to regather immediately after the Pandemic hit, but as the new normal took hold, their previous reasons for became, if anything, magnified. Beyond that there were new imperatives for changes in HR total rewards strategies delivering more flexible benefits as people began to work from home.”

Curran says that the resurgence of interest led the group to rethink their APAC strategy. “We always saw an opportunity to expand in Australia, but after Corona hit, there was a feeling that it would be better to delay any launch or expansion plans. In fact, it was the Australian corporate community that was coming to us and asking for solutions and tech to manage cars, share assets and integrate mobility, so in the end we launched pretty much as planned.”

Covid, Mobility and Working from Home (WFH)

The onset of the Coronavirus in February initially gave pause to a great many companies around the world, but in Europe now, as well as other parts of the world, mobility and allied trends have been accelerated. Perhaps the most obvious of these is the WFH trend.

In May, Professor David Hensher from the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies at Sydney University forecast that large scale WFH could become the new normal. He noted among other things that many companies, including the National Australia Bank, had actually reported increased productivity as more staff took up WFH options.

Since that time, more Australian businesses have announced that WFH is likely to be a permanent feature of employment, with Australian tech giant Atlassian recently announcing that employees are welcome to work from home permanently,

Home Office and Mobility

Connector say that the trend of working from home is just another aspect of the total mobility equation. Shane Curran: “We need to keep sight of the fact that true mobility is not just about moving a person from one place to another. It’s about understanding the reasons for that movement and, in times of crisis, perhaps minimising movement by understanding those reasons.”

The Connector team is passionate about the complete integration of shared and home office space with mobility transport options. “The great difficulty for many companies, even when they recognise the need, is finding solutions that actually work and then integrating each of those solutions with each other. In CMaaS, we’ve done all the hard work so that a business can simply ‘bolt on’ the solution to their existing technology base.”

Four new experts

The four new additions in Australia have been accredited as both experts and partners. “Being partners means that they are licenced to promote and sell Connector products and services, while the ‘expert’ accreditation is about ensuring that they hold suitable expertise in their field.” explains Curran

We asked all four of the new additions to provide us with their top tip for fleets in 2020 and their answers were as diverse as their backgrounds.

“Utilise data. Obtain all the data you can on how the fleet is being used and then mine that data to find the real trends within the business. Often what you think is going on isn't!” Deb Bacon has come from the manufacturer side, having spent over 20 years in fleet, finance and dealer operations. She says that the time is right for Connector and especially for CMaaS. “Covid, and the changes resulting from it, make this an ideal time for organisations to focus on utilisation of assets and employee wellbeing. That’s what Connector delivers, and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Embrace the opportunity to understand increased flexibility and better workplace outcomes for company employees. Doing things the same old way is no longer an option.” Paul Oliver has a lengthy and impressive pedigree in the industry, having come along the fleet management and leasing route. Having spent the last few years working in innovation, he took the decision to leave corporate life and establish his own consultancy. He says that “Connector gives me a ready-made product line and a network of like-minded people. It means that I can provide my customers with more comprehensive and innovative solutions.”

“Conduct regular reviews and understand that maintaining the status quo might actually be the most dangerous option in the current climate. Economic pressures, the global pandemic, and changing driver behaviours mean that the traditional way is not the best way any longer.” In Canberra, the Australian Capital, Sarah Hanrahan’s career has also been largely in fleet management, albeit with a start in remarketing. She explains that “Everything changed in 2017 as I completed my MBA. My majors were in innovation and leadership and the innovation really interested me. So when the CMaaS product launched this year I realised that this was just the sort of innovation that I’d wanted to introduce. It was an easy decision to get involved after that.”

“Understand what your people need. It may sound obvious, but this has to be the baseline for any mobility reforms and needs to be understood in advance.“ Across the Tasman from Australia, in Auckland, New Zealand, Peter Adams operates a business where he has specialised in motor claims for over 30 years. Peter says that innovation is part of his DNA. He sees mobility as a flexible resource for transformation and his decision to join the Connector team was a result of some careful research. “I’ve been looking for ways to expand our offering as well as our network of solutions. I saw Connector as a team of qualified experts that would add a great deal to our business and with solutions that could help us expand further.”

Room to Grow

Shane Curran says that the team will expand further, but he’s not in a hurry. “We need to bed down this new network as a first priority, but I am looking for additional people that would complement the team.”

Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck
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