When we interviewed Rob Hill, Multinational Business Development Liaison at ARI, we were keen to learn about solutions ARI offers its global fleet clients, some with fleets in more than 100 countries. Rob says, “The question we ask ourselves at ARI is how do we bring to the market something that allows people to be able to get what is best in class locally but at the same time drive at visibility and understanding? Transparency – knowing why something works the way it does, being able to figure out what the cost drivers are, and having the ability to exercise change management in order to see and measure the effects of those decisions – is critical.”
Rob, what trends are you seeing in the global fleet space?
Basically, the trends are the same ones we were seeing 13 years ago, which is an attempt to maximize efficiencies around global spend. A lot of this is being driven out of different sourcing groups which have maximized their spend to be more efficient. Now they are looking at indirect spend categories, fleet being one of those. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to make that happen.
In my opinion, there really is no one global supplier and that makes it a challenge when it comes to trying to commoditize fleet spend. The largest suppliers may be in 40 countries and have partners in up to maybe 60. But many of their customers may be in more than 100 countries. This makes it difficult to find a truly global solution because you’re likely to need more than one supplier depending on where your operations are.
Admittedly, the majority of your fleet may be between Europe and North America, and where that is the case, you can certainly find solutions that allow for greater efficiency.
What is ARI’s approach to helping its global clients maximize efficiencies and control costs?
I was visiting with a customer recently where 60 percent of their fleet is in the Americas and Europe, and 40 percent is in Asia. With a fleet as spread out as that, there may be gaps they cannot accommodate. To get that global spend under control is very difficult.
At ARI, we are looking at this and asking ourselves if we are approaching this the right way. Does having a global footprint actually mean people on the ground? Or is it being able to offer a solution that will allow an organization to manage their fleet spend through visibility, transparency and control? That challenge is one of the things that ARI is focused on. We want to drive transparency to provide greater insight and control.
If you design your approach around the management of information, the getting data, refining and clarifying it so it makes sense and provides insight, then people suddenly have significantly more control and can make better, smarter decisions. That way, you can actually look at all 120 markets, markets with multiple suppliers and multiple ways of doing business, and accommodate a customer’s needs.
Multinational fleets have unique needs; how is ARI positioned to find solutions for them?
In our view, as an organization, we have two core competencies that we bring to the table. First, we have a strong background in data integration and the creation of solutions that take that data and make it make sense so you can make decisions – both proactively and reactively – with less uncertainty. And that is what you want to be able to do with information, right?
Second, we have more than 60 years of experience around how you develop your fleet operations in order to drive transparency. Our focus is to work together with our customers, strategically leveraging our core competencies and theirs, to build a solution that is truly global in nature, allowing them to use multiple vendors if needed to drive transparency.
I liken it to this: when you travel around the world, there are some individuals from the States who want to eat at McDonalds. It doesn’t matter if it is in Argentina or if it is France or if it is South Africa or if it is in Australia. That is where they want to eat. But there are many of us who see value in having a great steak in Argentina. Or having crayfish in South Africa and sampling the local cuisine, whatever is considered best in class. Just having your brand there doesn’t mean that you are the right process for a particular customer. It depends on taste and need.
So, how do you drive transparency?
The question we ask ourselves at ARI is how do we bring to the market something that allows people to be able to get what is best in class locally but at the same time drive at visibility and understanding? Transparency – knowing why something works the way it does, being able to figure out what the cost drivers are, and having the ability to exercise change management in order to see and measure the effects of those decisions – is critical.
In all the markets where we offer our products and services, we want to ensure that we have in place the most transparent solution that our customers have grown accustomed to us offering. They expect to be able to get down to the nitty-gritty, the details with true transparency as to what their costs are and what is driving them. That is what our customers want and expect, and that is what we provide. That is our philosophy – it always has been.
There are a lot of good suppliers whether it is in Russia or wherever. We need to look at how we help those suppliers connect with our customers. Normally, when it comes to suppliers, they may insist they are a closed end shop. They operate on lease and follow a European style. We look to partner with suppliers, extract the data and apply our analytics solutions to it so we can help our customers to get to where they want to be. That is exactly what we are trying to do.