If you have a fleet of vehicles of any size, chances are it’s the backbone of your company, whether your team uses it for travel, service, or order fulfillment. This is true of businesses throughout the globe, with four million trucks and two million cars in active fleets in the US alone. So good fleet management is vital to business, no matter where you or your vehicles go.
To maintain a competitive edge, you need a telematics platform that’s purpose-built for the complexities of managing a large fleet in the real world.
What is a telematics platform?
A telematics platform is a technological infrastructure combining telecommunications and vehicular technologies, used to remotely monitor, track, and protect your fleet assets in real time. This platform gives you the infrastructure and services necessary to run any type of telematics applications, which you can customize based on your business needs.
The components of a telematics platform include internet of things (IoT) devices, data platforms, and network connections such as APIs, which work together to collect telematics information from your assets. Building these elements from scratch and maintaining them on an ongoing basis can be cumbersome, but a telematics platform offers an elegant solution by including all of the fundamental components in one place. Starting with a platform allows you to efficiently deploy telematics applications to market without sacrificing quality.
Other key components include GPS location tracking and a physical onboard diagnostics (OBD) device, often also supplied by the telematics provider. Monitoring and management are done in a cloud-based environment, so you’re released from the constraints of traditional fleet management practices, e.g., geo-restrictions and manual data logging.
Whether you’re brand new to the world of telematics or you’re looking to re-evaluate your existing telematics platform, here are a few things you should have on your checklist.
7 things to look for in a telematics platform
Your choice of a telematics platform has real-world repercussions. Because it’s the backbone of your telematics applications, you’re staking your performance on it — as well as your company’s reputation.
Set yourself up for success by keeping an eye out for these 7 things as you shop around:
1. Enterprise-grade quality
A good litmus test for the quality of any telematics platform is how well it would fit into an enterprise environment, which typically set a high bar for standards and requirements.
Some of the key indicators for how a platform fares in this regard are:
- Security: You need end-to-end systems for encryption, authentication, and monitoring to keep the data flowing through your telematics applications safe.
- Compliance: Look for a platform that verifiably complies with major security and privacy standards. This provides added peace of mind that you have robust data protections, and it makes life easier for anyone in industries with strict regulatory requirements, such as healthcare logistics. By starting with a platform that enforces standards, you drastically reduce the overhead required to maintain ongoing compliance in your tech stack.
- Availability: The aim of telematics is observability, so the platform powering these systems needs to be reliable, with little to no interruption in functional uptime. This helps you realize the full potential of cloud computing and is useful for instances where 24/7 observability is required, e.g., freight and healthcare.
- Scalability: Automatic scaling allows you to provision resources dynamically, so you can grow the size of your operations in response to demand. This allows you to maintain observability across as many assets as you have. You can also add layers of redundancy to future-proof your setup against obstacles and eventualities.
While the fundamentals of telematics are transferable across multiple industries, it’s also important for a telematics platform to be able to adapt to your unique needs. For example, for-hire trucking fleets and school districts absolutely don’t share the same approach to fleet management, but it’s possible for them to use the same telematics platform — assuming that platform has features robust enough for both cases.
As you compare options, look for a platform with the specifications to meet your current needs, as well as the flexibility to accommodate any changes you might implement in the future.
A telematics provider with a diverse range of devices and data sources, in particular, is key to this sort of flexibility. This ensures you can tailor your fleet management solution to your needs.
3. Third-party support
Telematics platforms are managed services, meaning companies choose them to offload some of the technical overhead of owning and maintaining a telematics application. External integrations simply take this one step further to your advantage.
A 2022 study found that, in 74.2% of companies, the ability to integrate with third-party systems is a crucial factor when evaluating partner technology.
In the context of telematics, the integrations that would make a platform more robust include maps and weather services, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and customer relationship management (CRM) software. These integrations allow companies to bring along the tools they’re already familiar with and leverage the power of shared data.
An active developer community would also sweeten the deal, because this ensures there’s a base of knowledge personnel you can turn to for assistance if you run into technical hurdles.
4. Development lifecycle support
A telematics platform isn’t just a set of training wheels that you discard after you’ve successfully shipped your application. Instead, it serves as a solid foundation for the application all throughout the software development lifecycle.
Find a solution that comes with robust out-of-the-box functionality. A program that is too cumbersome to use or requires endless hours of customization will defeat the purpose of beginning with a telematics platform to begin with.
A good developer portal will also help you move with ease throughout the process. A rich repository of documentation orients you in new territory, a sandbox environment gives you a playground to safely test the application, and development examples provide models from seasoned, like-minded experts.
A generous range of professional services like technical support and program management then get you through the chapters that follow the successful development and delivery of your application.
5. Data management
Data is at the heart of all telematics, so you won’t get anywhere if you don’t handle it properly. Unfortunately, many companies struggle in data management, including 43% experiencing challenges in analytics and orchestration, 40% in synchronization, and 38% in visibility.
A reliable telematics platform should be able to address all these challenges head-on with systems that are timely and synchronized, as well as fully compliant and secure.
You should be able to start from enrichment, where you prepare the data you’ve collected by cleaning, translating, and formatting it as needed. After this comes streaming, where you use an API to direct the data where you want it, whether that’s an ERP or the backend of your cloud computing platform. This prepares you for the analytics and reporting stage, where you extract business insights from the data to drive informed decisions.
6. Device management
The telematics devices you use to manage your assets are only as good as the telematics system you use to manage them; otherwise, they might as well not be part of the equation.
In addition to the data management features above, you also need to implement various organizational and administrative measures. Device management also entails user management, where you’ll need to be able to enforce hierarchies, manage accounts and sub-accounts, and enforce role-based access controls.
One advantage of telematics being an IoT-centric field is that you can run diagnostics remotely or send out over-the-air (OTA) updates, so you never need physical access to your assets for anything other than hardware-related issues.
7. Edge computing
Edge computing is a distributed IT framework that increases performance by processing data closer to where it’s generated. The benefits of this in telematics are substantial.
Say you’re in freight, and your fleet drivers often venture into areas with limited connectivity, where data can’t flow between the cloud and the OBD. Edge computing allows for critical operations to continue running offline in each vehicle, and everything syncs when it’s back online.
A telematics platform with a flexible edge computing system might even be able to support custom applications that integrate devices from third-party providers. You can also invite developers to build solutions for your applications that work on the platform so you grow your community alongside the user base.
What can CalAmp Telematics Cloud do for you?
If you were to hold up the CalAmp Telematics Cloud to the requirements in the section above, you’d find it’s an all-encompassing solution that can support any telematics application. CalAmp is an industry leader in each of these seven key areas.
When you dig into the CalAmp Telematics Cloud, you’ll find three main platform components: the Data Hub, Edge Application Environment, and Device Management.
The Data Hub handles the following:
- Provides access to real-time and historical telematics data from your assets.
- Automates ingestion, transformation, and enrichment to convert data into valuable insights.
- Uses open APIs to stream data into platforms like ERPs and proprietary systems where you can analyze, secure, or submit it for review as needed.
The Edge Application Software Development Kit (SDK), paired with the Edge Core Firmware, gives you the tools to leverage actionable insights related to your assets at the edge by sampling data from the following:
- Vehicle location
- Idle time
- Vehicle speed
- Harsh braking
- And much more…
You can apply these metrics to geofencing, rental and lease management, and high-value asset management.
Some of the things you can do from the Device Management segment of the platform include:
- Access management with role-based access control, hierarchies, and device provisioning.
- Development lifecycle management with OTA software updates for your devices.
- Remote diagnostics with real-time device health info as well as notifications and alerts for critical events and anomalies.
As you may have gathered from all this, the CalAmp Telematics Cloud is a well-rounded platform to stream all the data you need to build applications that can support and scale operations across a wide range of industries.
To maintain a competitive market edge, you need a high standard of fleet efficiency and visibility, and it’s difficult to do that without strong telematics. And strong telematics needs a robust platform that lets you build your applications efficiently, cost-effectively, and with granular customization to meet your unique needs.
Look for a comprehensive solution with enterprise-grade quality, flexibility, third-party support, development lifecycle support, data and device management, and edge computing.
CalAmp Telematics Cloud provides all these and then some.
You can access real-time and historical data on your assets from the Data Hub to drive business decisions. With the Edge Application Environment, you can leverage the power of edge computing, so you have the flexibility to choose the data you get from your assets. A collection of device management features allows you to enforce control over everything from user access to software updates.
If you’re ready to start your telematics journey with an industry leader in your corner, contact a specialist from CalAmp today!