The Power (or lack thereof) in Numbers – Fleet Telematics Data

When we chart through history, we can easily see how commodity trends evolve.  Over time, commodities become more useful and easier to distribute.  For a commodity to first exist there must be a need.  One version of a commodity definition is “a basic good used in commerce that is interchangeable with other goods of the same type”.  At one point in time, cinnamon was viewed as valued commodity – similar to that of gold.  The demand was created, in part, due to the treacherous and difficult land routes it had to traverse – effectively limiting the supply. This takes me back to those supply and demand graphs in ECON101.


In today’s world, the abundance and supply of data are seemingly unending.  This supply has led to the development of many successful companies that help slice, dice, and sort such information for your benefit.  The amount of data we have access to, even when well organized, can create an overwhelming feeling of “Now what”?   Sometimes, the processing of such data sets takes us back in time like we are traveling down those same difficult paths commodities traveled hundreds of years ago.


It is no secret that data is power when used in an effective, well-devised manner.  Fleet telematics are continuously  evolving and spreading useful data tentacles in many directions. We know telematics promotes accountability and safety within any organization when used appropriately.  Unfortunately, sometimes the overwhelming feeling of what to do with all your data starts to set in. Many times it results in relegating telematics systems to mere tracking devices.


At Sentinel Risk Advisors, we often start with the basic and simple dialogue of explaining the value of telematics.  We believe these tools are no longer just for the largest and most sophisticated operations, rather they can serve a purpose in any size fleet when used correctly.  Evaluating and using data correctly takes effort, even on the most basic and simple telematic offerings.


When considering Fleet Telematic options, we encourage a thoughtful process:


Step One:  Start with choosing several telematic demonstrations and ease your way into understanding the individual product offerings and installation into your vehicles.  Competition creates competitive prices, so be sure to check into several telematic companies to ensure you are getting the greatest value and the right fit for your needs. There are a plethora of vendors waiting to sell your company the “next best thing”.  This can involve more bells and whistles than competitors or iterations of their previous suite of telematic products. Just be advised – the best price may not be the right long-term solution for your company.


Step Two:  Be prepared to have a list of important offerings that you feel are most important to your operations.  Even a small list of simple but effective metrics can offload a tremendous amount of data for your organization.  Some examples include – speed, harsh breaking, harsh turning, acceleration and – depending on the device – the ability to detect distracted driving (when devices are synced with phones).


As noted earlier, one of the biggest pitfalls of a fleet telematics program is not having the resources to effectively manage the tool.  Be prepared to have one or more resources fully trained on the system to help monitor and analyze the data supplied.  And, at the very least, you should require an output of this data weekly.


Using data points as opportunities to learn and speak with your drivers not only increases cultural awareness for safety, but also accountability over time within your organization.  The reality is simple when it comes to telematics – less can often be more than enough.  In short, the simplest of these telematics programs can offer a company a great starting point with more than enough data to help improve awareness and create positive change in driving habits.


For more information on fleet safety and telematics contact Dana Vorholt, ARM, Director of Risk Management with Sentinel Risk Advisors at

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