9 Aug 19

Avis and Otonomo are turning Fleet Data into Cash

At the end of July 2019, Avis Budget Group and Israeli start-up Otonomo (a finalist in the 2018 Smart Mobility Start-up of the Year) announced a major and interesting deal.

Avis, which owns the Budget and Zipcar brands, is linking its global fleet of over 100,000 connected vehicles to Otonomo’s cloud-based market place of over 100 companies to turn data into revenue.

According to consulting firm McKinsey & Co, the market for vehicle data could swell to $750 billion globally by 2030. So, how can lease companies or large corporate fleets ensure they get a fair slice of that pie?

The road ahead to Smart Cities

Municipalities (local state or city governing bodies) are creating value from data to understand urban density and the dynamics of what’s happening on the roads.

So far, this has been done through infrastructure (road sensors, CCTV cameras) but now billions of data points come from mobility apps, devices and connected cars. This is helping drive predictive recommendations to improve traffic flows, deal with hotspots and accelerate emergency response.

Connected vehicles better than cameras

The belief is that most mobility data will come from vehicles in the near future rather than infrastructure. Connected vehicle data updates seamlessly and can map an entire city without the continuous maintenance and upgrades required by road sensors and cameras.

Real time and historic data can be leveraged to predict what may happen. Otonomo customer (and provider of mobility solutions for smart cities) Waycare is helping reduce crashes (among other things). In a pilot program, the Nevada Highway Patrol saw a 17% reduction in crashes along a portion of the Interstate 15 near Las Vegas.

Don’t make monetising data the top priority

Although there are opportunities for fleet-owners to exploit their data – even before all the technical barriers have been addresses - Lisa Joy Rosner, Otonomo’s CMO, advises caution:

“We’re only just beginning to scratch the surface of this.” She says. “However, it’s really about putting data to good use. If you start with how can I sell this stuff, that’s not the right directive.”

So what’s the starting point for fleet managers?

Rosner explains: “The starting point is to have data capture and storage strategy under control. Data security is critically important to instil confidence in the audiences who are potentially going to be paying for the services this data enables.”

What fleet data can be tracked?

Otonomo monitors over 2 billion data points a day from more than 18 million connected vehicles and is currently creating what it terms a ‘Data Ecosystem’.

Most commonly, fleets are tracking location, speed, tyre pressure and fuel levels. Fuel level tracking, combined with GPS, are being used in on-demand fuelling initiatives.

Predictive maintenance

According to Rosner, predictive maintenance is a huge growth area.

“Gone are the days when a driver would have a red light flashing on the dashboard and have to go to a garage to have it analysed. These days, the car can tell you what’s wrong.”

Beware data compliance

In Europe, Data protection is key as there are a number of regulations around data security and privacy that are mandatory for GDPR.

There will be cases when drivers want to opt-in so they can enjoy the benefits of data apps, such as parking, navigation, fuel-on-demand and location services that make for a better driving experience. Alongside consent, the two main tenets of GDPR are the right to be concealed and the right to be forgotten.

Who is interested in buying this data and for what?

Smart city is a large umbrella under which many suppliers are looking to offer products and services.

Navigation and mapping companies are keen to access more in-depth, real-time data so they can offer profitable services.

Insurance companies are currently the lowest hanging fruit, then mapping and retailers.

So, the answer to the question whether any fleet owner can turn data into cash is a cautionary yes, provided they carefully negotiate the technical and compliance hoops first.

Authored by: Alison Pittaway