Big Fleets, Big Data? 3 key challenges fleet managers wanting to use Big Data will face.
Big data is set to transform the world of (fleet) management as we know it. The increasing vehicle connectivity and the Internet of Things will make data big, in the sense of it becoming an essential part of fleet strategy. Those companies that are able to derive the right insights from such a vast amount and variety of data will be able to create new and significant value for their own, and their customers’ businesses. However with the production of such massive data sets comes the obvious challenge of how to turn such complexity into valuable insights for one’s organisation.
In the first blog post of this series , Big Fleets, Big Data? 4 key questions answered on Big Data and Fleet Management, we discussed the key characteristics of Big Data and the value it can bring to international fleets. In this post we will discuss 3 key challenges that come with the application of big data and that need to be addressed in order to deliver value to your business.
Challenge: data complexity
The increasing complexity of data can easily make one feel like you’re lost in a jungle of data sets and systems. A key element in finding your way in this jungle is to ask yourself the right questions. What insights are you missing currently? What new insights could have most benefits for you?
The next step is then to find and understand the right sources of those data sets, and differentiate between the various types of data – for example vehicle and driver data and combine it with various events such as: vehicle localisation, traffic accidents, weather, holidays and working schedules for example.
To make big data work, you should keep in mind the key reasons for adopting it and make sure that you keep up with efficiency and accuracy in order to make smart decisions. One solution to this challenge is to have the proper domain expertise in place. Make sure the people analysing the data not only have a deep understanding of where the data originates from, but also understand the context of the (fleet) management insights that need to be developed.
Next to this, data visualisation and reporting tools, if set up properly, can greatly support you in enabling the presentation & demonstration of the most relevant insights for decision makers. You should define what insights your business needs and what amount of data will be sufficient to derive these insights. Obtaining big amounts of data does not mean making the right use out of it. Keep in mind the well known philosophy “Start small, think Big”.
Source: Gartner Road Map for Big Data adoption.
Challenge: data integration
To achieve the most business value from big data, it needs to be integrated into your business processes and even company culture. To begin with, you need to clearly define the data that you really need to run or improve your business. Then you can identify if that data is, or could be, generated internally or you need to collect it from elsewhere. As a result, you may discover that you need to bring several of these data sources together.
The next challenge is to mix and manage the structured and non-structured data derived from different sources. New business areas may become more relevant, like security and business intelligent/analytics. If certain datasets are held in certain (functional) silos within a company, this could make the process even more challenging. Big data challenges can be a liability if data is not stored appropriately – especially the management of driver data is impacted by regulations.
Next to managing this in house, it is also possible to link with partners that can already combine and manage a number of datasets for you, hence reducing (management) complexity and ensure data quality.
During this process you should always keep data quality in perspective and avoid creating new data silos inside the organization. The name of this game is data integration.
Challenge: making your data operational
Probably the best approach to make data a part of your daily business processes is to start with a proper integration planning. This should be part of the company vision and will have an impact in all the business areas.
Getting big business benefits out of Big Data also poses new requirements in personal skill sets. It requires a different mindset. Big Data tells you what’s happening, often without statistically pointing out a dominant reason. Being capable to explore the Big Data opportunities with an open mind will be a relevant skill for those organizations that are keen to play the game. This is about the combination of many areas of expertise: fleet mangement, business management and data management (including systems and security).
You should be capable to identify clearly the problem that you are trying to solve or the process/services you are trying to improve; therefore the right combination between new and “old” skills and experience is fundamental.
Knowing the business will still very much remain the key to making the best possible use of the data. Equally important will be to create a road map for integration and implementation of data; involving the right resources balancing new and already existing skills and business owners. Don’t be afraid to go outside the organization!
For many companies and fleets the move towards the use of Big Data will be more in terms of evolution than revolution. Related challenges will however need to be addressed for all global fleets, especially given the current developments around telematics and mobility. In most cases this evolution will be built upon a solid foundation of ‘business intelligence’ and reporting. Although not ‘Big’ in the sense of big data, this is already a significant step towards the effective global organisation and optimisation of mobility.
Juan Ignacio Pascual, Guest Author