From the fragmentation of digital services to a single workflow that takes full advantage of the latest technologies. It is a change of perspective from which companies can significantly benefit. Are we ready for this revolution? For years, the advantages of digitization have been imagined in many application areas.
Today, digitization has taken on a pervasive character, including areas conceptually very far from the digital theme, ranging, for example, from precision agriculture to the various forms of art generated by the computer. It is helpful to ask ourselves the advantages of digitization in managing fleets and corporate mobility, meaning both those acquired and those still only potential. Furthermore, it is worthwhile to consider whether to have an entire digital fleet management and mobility services workflow rather than fragmentation of such digitization elements covering the management chain and patchy service.
From Physical To Digital
The first innovative element of digitization is the possibility of translating physical elements of reality into entities of a descriptive and digital model (digital twin). For example, a vehicle and its components and characteristics, its driver and his psychophysical conditions, service routes, transport requirements and specifications, road conditions, vehicle maintenance, and resource needs for the vehicle (fuel, electricity) are just a few examples of elements that can characterize the corporate mobility dashboard of a fleet and influence its management. The complete availability of digital information in this sense enables an enormous series of analyzes, automation of choices, and optimizations deriving from the Big Data obtained, which contribute to reducing costs, allowing forecasts on service and contractual requirements, performing predictive and scheduled maintenance, and satisfying best meet user needs.
In addition, the ability to provide data and communications in real-time, thanks to mobile networks (and in particular from 5G onwards), allow digital information to be available and managed in a short time and allow analyzes and optimizations capable of reacting in real-time to emerging situations, from the re-scheduling of a transport to the redistribution of a load following emergencies, up to and including the issues of safeguarding people (safety) and the reduction, if not complete elimination by 2050, of the causes of death from mobility.
A Full Chain
Beyond the advantages, the issue to be explored, however, is the value of the completeness of the digital chain in fleet management. The solutions adopted today for digitization in the fleet are often partial and limited to specific monitoring, analysis, and management areas. On the one hand, it is understandable and reasonable that the introduction of digitization cannot be carried out overnight in a single transition. It requires various steps of planning, evaluation, adaptation, integration, and validation of the solutions introduced. One of the most popular trends in recent years is the digitization of the commercial and documentary part, electronic invoicing, intelligent and digital payments, and smart contracts (based on innovative technologies such as blockchain ).
The advantages are obvious: from the dematerialization of documents to the reduction of communication, storage, and document management costs, to automatic and immediate reporting, and the analysis of inconsistency and errors on a formal level, to name just a few aspects. However, it is evident that these advantages, while fundamental for company competitiveness, only constitute part of the value obtained from digitalization. Therefore, vehicle and driver communication and monitoring systems have been introduced, capable of increasing the dynamics of the service and the possibility of managing information relating to traffic conditions, authorizations, tolls and digital passes, risk factors, optimization of the load and resources, and the travel of the sections in compliance with the service requirements.
Sometimes monitoring tools collide with people’s privacy needs, and it is typical for privacy restrictions on monitoring services to reduce the optimization potential of the services. Finally, the availability of digital data makes possible the advanced analysis of predictive, cognitive, diagnostic, and optimization tools using artificial intelligence tools, which, if well-educated by quality data, can assume decision support characteristics similar to those of an essay and experienced business manager.
An Entire Digital System
A business context in which the entire system is digitized will therefore lead to a reduction in costs, an increase in the efficiency and effectiveness of the service implementation, optimization of resources, and the possibility of solving emerging problems, proposing the best alternative solutions or predicting problems to mitigate or avoid them. The opportunity for the future is to prepare the corporate digitization chain to include the potential of the “algorithm economy.” This term refers to the expression of the economic and strategic potential for corporate fleet management offered by a suite of optimization, forecasting, and decision support functions based on artificial intelligence algorithms.
This potential will soon become essential for competitiveness, just as it is essential today to have good management. In the future, the corporate digitization chain will lead to the evolution of competitiveness, playing a significant part in the quality of the analysis and choice algorithms, so whoever has the best algorithms and the best Big Data will be able to obtain a particular strategic advantage in workflow management and choices on corporate mobility. To paraphrase Neil Armstrong, small steps for a company towards complete digitization will lead to a giant leap in strategic/economic, competitiveness, and managerial terms in fleet management.