Business travel set to decline by 25% in next five years

This is the prediction of Sewells Group an international consulting business focussed on improving dealer performance, which incidentally has strong SA roots.

With numerous disruptive technologies being introduced into businesses daily, this prediction is probably quite realistic. Although this suggests that fleet sizes may reduce, it can also be interpreted to say that business activity will increase “by 25%” with the same fleet size.

So if this is realistic how can it be achieved?

Telematics; internationally it is now recognized as the fleet management tool of the future. The big data capability of telematics will complement the usage of electric and self-driving vehicles, but in South Africa we have to more fully use its usage management capability. Measuring the utilisation of vehicles and route planning for efficiency will certainly result in less vehicles or improved efficiency.

Business processes; is there a beneficial alternative to a sales visit or can equipment be repaired on line using remote diagnostics and fixes. Get this right and business travel will be reduced.

Home based employment; for sales and service support using video conferencing, online applications and communication. These staff members won’t need vehicles and can even use Uber for the weekly sales / operations meetings. This will also satisfy many personal needs.

Pool vehicles; previously a dirty word for abuse, but with online booking systems, vehicle inspection tools and telematics integration this will adequately meet ad hoc usage needs and eliminate unnecessary dedicated company car allocations.

Mobility; although South Africa has a poor public transport network, a worldwide focus on mobility using ride sharing, public transport etc. will ultimately influence its local development. Also, those companies with international principals will feel the growing pressure of environmental efficiency and progressive attitudes towards transport alternatives.

All of these elements will most definitely reduce business travel, the costs of vehicle ownership, reduce parking needs and commuting time which is considered unnecessary and unwanted

There are of course cost reducing systems that can be implemented today in terms of funding methods and the management of fuel, maintenance and accidents. These should be explored and implemented where possible.

The challenge for Fleet Management is technological change and the development of new processes and services. The only question that fleets need to answer is: are they ready to embrace a bold future?

Contact Nigel Webb, Latitude Fleet Services

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