Using Big Data and benchmarking to improve your bottom line

By: Lia Richards

29, September, 2016


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Author: Mike Branch, Vice President, Business Intelligence, Geotab

In today’s world, Big Data is the key to unlocking the full potential of your business. There are many sources you can look to for data, but an important resource to consider is telematics. It provides access to a wealth of second-by-second data on vehicle position, speed, trip distance/time, idling, harsh braking and aggressive driving, seat belt use, fuel consumption, engine faults, and much more. Forward-thinking companies are embracing telematics as a way to better understand and optimize their operations.

While the primary goal of telematics Big Data is to create safe and efficient roads and vehicles with zero fatalities, decreased traffic congestion, and reduced emissions, it can also have a profound impact on your bottom line. It’s important to start thinking about how telematics data can be used in conjunction with your existing data assets from your CRM, maintenance software and more, to drive metrics like: increased customer retention and reduced maintenance costs.

Mike Branch, Vice President, Business Intelligence, Geotab

Using Big Data for benchmarking

In your organization, you’ve likely established key performance indicators and measurement tactics to guide your business operations and decisions; however, it’s through benchmarking that you can really drive results.

Benchmarking involves comparing your company’s performance against a certain set of standards. It lets you see how competitive you are, and where you need to be better, allowing you to make systematic improvements. While there are many ways to approach benchmarking, it’s much more meaningful to compare against competition, and “like fleets” — where a comparable fleet could be one of a similar size, industry, fleet composition, geography, driving pattern, and more.

To get started, it’s critical to make sure that you’re collecting sufficiently rich telematics data, and that you have access to a repository of benchmark data that you can use to compare your business. You can then sort through your data, and begin benchmarking following the three basic stages:

Plan: Use your company goals to determine your objectives and what issue you want to focus on. Whether it’s to improve driver safety, fleet fuel efficiency, asset utilization, or customer service, all represent an opportunity to benchmark. However, there are some important items to consider when benchmarking:

Normalize your data – If you are counting the number of hard acceleration incidents to improve safety, you should normalise that data to the number of miles driven. For example, at Geotab, we normalize hard acceleration events per 100 km driven.
Compare apples to apples – Use a similar size, composition, and driving pattern as a basis for comparing like fleets. As an example, a driver in a rural area in Wisconsin should not be compared to a driver in New York City. Traffic and weather conditions would vary, making it difficult to accurately compare.

Collect and Measure: Set up an automated process that is constantly collecting, storing, and validating your incoming telematics data. Be aware that implementing an inconsistent manual process won’t help achieve your goals.

Learn and share: Now, look at your results and find areas where other companies are performing better to uncover gaps and unlock your full potential. Calculate the impact of moving toward that benchmark to your company’s bottom line, and more importantly the costs of inaction. This kind of analysis is extremely important for management. Don’t forget to strategically share that information with drivers and other team members in a targeted, easily digestible format, so they can improve their own efficiency.

Putting it all together

After you have completed this process, circle back to planning again. Begin setting new targets for performance, and implement policy and program changes that will help get you there. Think of Big Data and benchmarking as a marathon, not a sprint. It’s important to continue evaluating on an ongoing basis as part of your overall plan for continuous improvement.

One of the things that separates good companies from great companies is measurement. Gather all the data you can and don’t be afraid to take a critical look at how your company is doing. Benchmarking accelerates your management by measurement.

Mike Branch, Vice President of Business Intelligence at Geotab, will be speaking at the IoT Tech Expo North America on 21st October, within the Data and Security conference track. You can register for a pass to the show here

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