Telematics Update interviews Colin Sutherland, Vice President, sales and marketing, Geotab

Telematics Update interviews Colin Sutherland, Vice President, sales and marketing, Geotab

What does your company do?

Geotab both manufactures and optimizes its in-vehicle devices for the highest performance data possible at the lowest possible monthly cost. As a total solution provider, Geotab devices are software managed by Geotab to assure quality data movement and management. With Geotab recorded and client-stored or hosted data using Geotab’s patented method of data recording, Geotab customers are able to extend their use of the data beyond simple AVL. In addition to AVL, Geotab offers software event management and reports for fleet, safety, time card, vehicle health, AVL and regulatory compliance.

How do you differentiate your offerings from your competitors?

Geotab is one of the very few companies in the world that both engineers and manufactures our patented in-vehicle trip and accident data recorders through the data and device management software through the database and software user interface. This end-to-end ownership of the total business solution gives Geotab leading flexibility to tailor solutions for enterprise fleet customers who may want customize solutions available in a cost effective off-the-shelf platform.Geotab’s USP starts with the choices we make to record telematics data—and it’s patented. Unlike typical AVL providers who record data based on time or distance, Geotab’s patented recording method analyzes trips as they are being driven and dynamically records data based on exceptions and a number of driver habit variables that deliver accurate mileage and driver profile.Since 1997, Geotab has deployed solutions to monitor driver-specific habits as well as the vehicle activity. So, no matter what vehicle a driver may drive, Geotab has the option of reporting that specific driver’s braking, speeding, idling, time card and other information that is specific to the employee. In addition, the vehicle’s trip is precisely recorded, which is useful for mileage and vehicle-specific data that can be used by fleet for fuel and maintenance management.Geotab is a scalable solution. Most AVL competitors don’t scale for multi-site/multi-state deployments with secure access to software that may be client hosted and offering user-profile based log in. Based on the user’s software login, the user can be restricted to a subset of the data and features, a great benefit for security and for training users on the application features only that they will use. Geotab software has been stress-tested to scale for the largest fleets in the industry and is priced for the largest through the smallest.

What partnerships are you currently forging? What industry milestone did you recently achieve?

In 2010, Geotab will have achieved its 100,000th unit in the field. Geotab is the telematics partner of one of North America’s largest fleet management organizations. In addition, the largest fleet route logistics planning software companies recently selected Geotab as its telematics partner.Which trends will impact the industry the most in the coming years and why?Companies have traditionally made decentralized buying decisions when it comes to AVL. Local branches or divisions were able to act independently to resolve local issues. In the past, cost and lack of a consolidated direction or vision for how the uniquely recorded data within Geotab can positively impact every division within an organization has underscored the necessity for the telematics investment to become centralized. The technology has existed for several years. What has changed is the awareness and desire for company managers outside of traditional fleet and dispatch operations to want to cost control or seek ways of measuring growth objectives. We have a saying: You can’t manage what you don’t measure. It is very true that in this economy, with the pressures of fuel, cost control, employee management and the need for corporate offices to be able to see and consolidate data and then use the data simply to sample and run scenario thinking through the data to check the possible outcomes, it is critical to businesses to 1) record ALL of the RIGHT data, 2) store and access the data in a place that works for mult-site/multi-users, and 3) turnkey events, in-cab driver interactive alerts, and reports that will effect change.Red herrings that won’t impact the industry: OEM AVL solutions—companies that understand the need for vehicle brand diversity, complete ownership of the data, data integration with their full operations and strategic planning use of the data will not follow a Ford Works or other OEM-centric solution.

What key topics or issues did you discuss at our Fleet & Asset Management Show (taking place this week in Atlanta)?

Geotab wants to raise the awareness of the data eco-system—that telematics data is much more than vehicle location or dispatch. The Decision Tree helps explain our needs-driven-solutions approach. We will be showing several new products: the latest Geotab platform with accelerometer, GPS and engine diagnostics for trucks and cars and how this device (through Geotab software) enables custom score cards to be developed for risk and safety, fuel and customer management; and 2) a RFID option that enables RFID tags to be scanned and tracked for fleets who wish to combine asset tracking within their fleet telematics device—date/time/location stamp along with vehicle and driver ID during each RFID scan. Geotab will preview our new 2010 products for enterprise customers from low cost to in-vehicle navigation through satellite tracking.

Asif Naqvi, Executive Editor, Telematics Update

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