By Martha Garcia-Perry, VP of Growth Initiatives & Integration, MetroGistics/AmeriFleet
Would you rather own a car or have one on demand?
Just as we now have options for how we listen to and pay for music and movies, people want options for how they get from point A to point B. Today, companies like Uber, Lyft and ZipCar are offering people new options for getting around: apps that enable them to make car trips, whenever they want, without owning a car and without all the costs and hassles that go along with it.
Commercial ride-sharing services are part of a bigger, broader movement called “Mobility as a Service” (MaaS) that uses multiple modes of transportation – from cycling and public transit to planes and automobiles – to move people to and fro, and it’s coming to company near you, if it hasn’t already.
Now, I want to pose my opening question to you, a fleet manager, in another way: would you rather be known as an asset (vehicle) manager or a mobility planner? Herein lies an opportunity for you to expand your scope, for while some companies offer company cars to some of their employees, everyone has mobility needs. If fleet managers are already managing the physical assets in a company for a select few within their organization, why not manage mobility for all of them or across companies?
With MaaS, fleet management has the potential to broaden its asset (vehicle) management responsibilities to include other modes of transportation. Already part of the MaaS movement, there are companies that offer a monthly incentive for riding a bike to work instead of driving a vehicle, with the potential for urban workers to save time by avoiding traffic jams.
Some forward-looking fleets are making more efficient use of their inventory: instead of letting vehicles sit idle in a parking lot for eight hours a day or in storage, they’re putting them to use in car-sharing or ride-sharing programs for other company employees, expanding their mobility.
But let’s look even further ahead: using the potential of MaaS, fleet managers could effectively manage multimode transportation, manage a car-sharing program within their own organization and even share vehicles with other companies. This advanced stage of the mobility revolution may even make it possible for companies that are too small to finance a fleet of their own to match all the travel options of larger companies.
Of course, the transformation from asset to mobility manager is easier said than done. Mobility as a Service entails the coordination and tracking of large amounts of data, including employee mobility budgets, schedules, transactions and trips involving multiple modes of transportation. But systems that do all of that are already entering the marketplace, and the potential for increased employee satisfaction and productivity as well as cost savings are huge. There’s a learning curve, too, but those who are bold enough to lead the way should reap substantial rewards.