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Aberdeen benchmark study looks at mobility technology use in fleets

TORONTO, Ont. -- According to an Aberdeen Group, December 2005 benchmark study, mobility technology, also referred ...

TORONTO, Ont. — According to an Aberdeen Group, December 2005 benchmark study, mobility technology, also referred to as mobile computing, is becoming instrumental in helping transportation fleets meet escalating customer demands and business productivity requirements.

Private fleet operators, commercial transportation carriers, logistics service providers, and field service organizations are being challenged to offer more time-definite services, perform more data collection and value-added services in the field, and provide enhanced status information to customers and internal operations.

According to the Aberdeen study, mobility technology is considered a key competitive tool by nearly three-quarters of fleet operators. Fully 87% of study participants say customer service improvements from mobility have met or exceeded their expectations. Smaller fleets typically achieve greater than 10% boosts in fleet productivity and on-time delivery or service performance from deploying mobility.

In terms of their future plans, meanwhile, fleet operators appear ready to ratchet up their use of mobility technology regardless of their current level of mobility adoption. Fully 80% of study participants have current, budgeted projects for improvements across two or more of the major fleet mobility areas: basic driver communications, value-added information collection, automatic vehicle location (AVL), and vehicle sensors.

Some 68% of respondents plan to use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in their fleets. While only 9% have piloted this technology to date, 20% say they have budgeted fleet RFID projects, says Aberdeen.

With regard to their technology plans, industrial-grade personal digital assistants (PDAs) are preferred by two-thirds of study participants with more than 50 vehicles, while smaller fleets prefer less expensive devices like smart phones. Three-quarters of respondents say their primary strategy for mobile application development involves some flavor of customization. In many cases, this is to maintain a competitive advantage over commercially available solutions by providing unique functionality or process support. Nonetheless, fleets looking for faster time to value and lower project risk should evaluate commercial mobility application alternatives.

In particular, look for applications built with configurable workflows and screen designs, as well as a service-oriented architecture for easier back-end integration.

According to Aberdeen, among other recommendations, enterprises with fleets should tie fleet mobility projects to driving better customer service benefits, not just internal productivity enhancements, assessing all four areas of fleet mobility before determining the mobility roadmap. These areas are: (1) basic driver communications, (2) value-added information collection, (3) AVL, and (4) vehicle sensors.

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