By Ed Pierce, Founder, ITA Fleet Communications
Anyone involved with marketing in the fleet industry can’t help but read the news from Europe about “mobility management” despite scant relevancy to North American fleets. Is it a European-only phenomenon? What are the implications for fleet managers? How will it impact fleet product and service providers?
First of all, the term is confusing. Google (yes, used as a verb) “mobility management,” and there are myriad topics, companies and services related to everything from mobile devices to senior mobility. A search of “multi-modal mobility management,” provides a lesson in government transportation planning. There’s very little, if anything, related to North American fleets.
An understanding of the term among fleet people generally is lacking. There is a pervasive misperception that mobility management involves adding bicycles, web-based minicab services, and bus route schedules to a fleet operation. This oversimplification is understandable given the inherent complexity of the topic.
However, by looking at more familiar business trends, the move to workforce mobility management makes sense. Clearly, the corporate fleet management role is being transformed before our eyes. Fleet and travel have long been tied together by some companies. The integration of fleet into the procurement function is nearly two decades old. Sourcing committees involve HR and Operations, too. So, the idea of looking at all of the transportation expenses necessary for running the business and generating revenue makes sense and is finally practical due to new technology.
Consider the past few years’ emphasis on “Big Data” to permit real-time, intelligent fleet decision-making. These systems can now handle exponentially larger data requirements, integrating all end-to-end business transportation expenses. Expense control of air, rail, hotel, vehicle pools, vehicle transportation, reimbursement, cash allowances, car sharing, pooling, mobile app development allows companies to progress from a focus on TCO to TCM (Total Cost of Mobility).
As a fleet product and service provider, the implications of this metamorphosis are dramatic with new obstacles, but new opportunities, too. One obvious question, “Who (in what department) is managing the program?” Among the new opportunities: vehicle transport and logistics companies that can coordinate greater asset movement due to sharing and pooling. Risk management implications will explode. Corporate-recommended, third-party driver safety becomes a whole new issue. Even among truck fleets, the rise of phone apps provides new opportunities for maximizing vehicle use and revenue generation, e.g., permitting more return loads.
There’s no doubt that the metamorphosis from fleet management to mobility management is underway. But, I think a more accurate term for the category is “workforce mobility management” or even “workforce and workload mobility management” (to include operations involving service vans and vocational trucks).