Verizon Connect: driving growth and innovation
Derek Bryan, Vice President EMEA, Verizon Connect, discusses his predicitions for the year ahead and the company's 2019 developments and innovations.
Could you tell me a little bit about your company and your role at the company?
I’m the EMEA Vice President at Verizon Connect, responsible for driving growth and innovation across Verizon Connect’s portfolio, as well as leading the sales team and strategy. With over 18 years sales experience, I’ve got a passion for technology and specialise in software as a service (SaaS).
Verizon Connect offers advanced fleet management software solutions for a wide range of industries, including supply chain and logistics. It helps businesses to track vehicles in the field, improve fleet operations and encourage safer driving.
What are the current trends within your industry?
The big trend is the increasing use of data and analytics, especially within the supply chain industry. Thanks to additional processing power, managers are now able to generate multiple data sets at once, providing a more informed view of their supply chain fleet. At the same time, greater processing power makes all this extra data easier to understand and facilitates the automation of some tasks. It’s likely that this trend will continue to grow as the industry collects more contextually relevant data from a combination of devices such as vehicle, mobile and other IoT-enabled sensors.
Another innovation on the horizon is the additional computing power within vehicles. While the widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles may be some time off, the computing power of non-autonomous vehicles is already growing significantly, to the point that vehicles can now report more information to managers than ever before. This trend is likely to continue, as the depth and quality of this data increases, helping improve the management of vehicles, including maintenance, and reduce fuel consumption.
What makes your company competitive?
Verizon Connect was established through the merger of SaaS fleet management providers Fleetmatics, Telogis and Networkfleet, reflecting our rich heritage in building the best software to suit the needs of fleet managers. Not only does this include visibility of fleet locations, vehicle health, job allocation and driver behaviour, but also forms a digital foundation upon which fleet managers can easily implement new tools and innovations such as AI, Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication and enhanced driver safety systems based on predictive analytics.
With technology quickly shaping the future of the automotive industry, it’s crucial for fleet managers to have a single, centralised platform from which their business can run. That’s why we’ve made our solution ‘integration friendly’ through our API toolkit, which allows in-house software engineers or third-party developers to build custom connections between our software and another solution, from billing, payroll, and HR to maintenance, CRM and health and safety. Using commonly accepted standards and robust security protocols, our platform helps provide fleet managers with the software foundation they need to digitally transform and continue to compete and grow in today’s technology-driven business landscape.
What innovations has your company been developing during 2019?
We’ve launched several new products this year to enhance our platform and deliver more solutions for our customers. In September, we launched Immobilisation for Verizon Connect Reveal, which allows fleet managers to disable a vehicle’s ignition once the vehicle’s engine has been shut off, effectively stopping vehicle misuse in near real time. Developed specifically to prevent unauthorised use of vehicles and aid in the recovery of stolen vehicles, this new functionality provides customers with peace of mind that they have power to take action with the push of a button.
We’ve also launched a number of products that enhance access to the data sets, helping fleet managers to effectively plan ahead and reduce risk. For example, we launched Engine Connect in March, a tool designed for light commercial vehicles which collects critical data directly from a vehicle’s engine to help monitor for potential issues with the vehicle, helping prevent mechanical problems and increase vehicle uptime. We’ve also updated our digital tachograph offering so managers can now remotely download the data tracking driver activity and mileage. This is helping businesses be compliant with the new European tachograph regulations, as well as increasing vehicle uptime and streamlining day-to-day processes.
What are your predictions for the industry in 2020?
With artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) already a hot topic of discussion in 2019, it’s likely we’ll see its benefits come to light in fleet-based operations in 2020. As the growing mobile workforce requires increasingly frictionless engagement with managers, AI/ML will be key to keeping fleet-based operations running efficiently and to meeting customer expectations. For example, in the event that an electrician be delayed in installing a light fitting, AI/ML should be able to automatically identify the delay and assign another colleague to the next job – all without intervention from the worker or causing inconvenience to customers.
2020 may also see mobile workers harness the power of voice recognition technology to help improve safety. Despite the growing popularity of consumer products in recent years, there has been a slower rate of adoption of this technology from enterprises. Over the coming year, however, improved voice recognition technology will become an ever more powerful tool for the mobile worker, enabling hands free input of data, activation of tasks and streamlined communication with managers.
Is there any exciting news you’d like to share with our readers at Supply Chain Digital?
We’re constantly innovating at Verizon Connect, looking at the types of technologies that will help transform supply chains, vehicles and logistics and working on the ways our customers adopt them. At the same time, we’re always looking at how we can help improve efficiency, decrease operational costs and, crucially, make fleets safer and more secure.
We recently launched some research into driver hours and found that a surprising one-in-five commercial drivers in the UK are spending more than the legally defined period of 4.5 hours behind the wheel without a rest break, potentially putting themselves and other road users at risk of fatigue-related accidents. For drivers, there is a lot of pressure to meet strict service level agreements and cope with increased demand in the lead-up to Christmas, but safety must always come first. With health and safety at the top of the agenda for fleet managers, we will continue to provide customers with the tools they need to help stay safe and compliant on the road.
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