Scalable and evergreen.
If you’re shopping for technology solutions to meet today’s business demands, those two words are likely near the top of your “want” list. And if they’re not, you might want to reconsider your priorities to include them.
Scalability, of course, refers to the ability of a business to adapt over time, to handle the potential for growth and adjust to new demands. Evergreen involves the adoption of IT infrastructure and processes that allow for growth and change, ideally in a seamless way that does not affect overall performance.
Why do these characteristics matter so much to enterprise IT? Because business demands are always changing.
Technology evolves at breakneck pace, and client preferences are not far behind. Just when you think you’ve put a good strategy in place, an innovative competitor, an economic blip or another unexpected disruption can undo best-laid plans.
I’ve seen this play out time and again in the fuel card industry. And I see some big on-the-cusp trends in that space today. Here, in my view, are the top three disruptions driving the need for scalable, evergreen IT in the fuel card industry now:
Internet of Things
Mobile devices and wireless Internet enable changes in payments and transactions. (Something I’ve talked about here.) But the potential goes beyond that.
For the fuel card industry, the connected vehicle could be huge. Telematics has the potential to offer a vast range of personalised customer services. It could automatically update the driver’s logbook, optimise routes based on fuel and tolls and handle fuel transactions. It could even enable usage-based insurance, with charges based on how far and well a person drives.
Data generated by the car and driver could be used in numerous ways, including predicting vehicle maintenance needs and preventing breakdowns (something a colleague has discussed here).
Fuel card providers definitely need to be mindful of – and preparing for – the promises of IoT.
If historians credit one thing with thoroughly rethinking transportation in the 21st century, it might be the ride-sharing app.
The U.S.-based phenomenon Uber and European company BlaBlaCar tap into the growing peer-to-peer sharing economy. As of March 2016, Uber had a footprint in 397 cities, shaking up the taxi service in each; BlaBlaCar has turned city-to-city ridesharing in Europe into a huge business that’s giving rail service a run for its money.
The market will continue to grow, with the number of car-sharing users expected to reach 650 million worldwide by 2030. The trend has obvious effects on fleet managers and other fuel card customers, which means providers will be affected as well.
And after we all adapt to the sharing economy, we should expect to face another disruption in the form of robotic, driverless car services.
The energy industry reached a turning point in 2015, when the world added more capacity for renewable power sources than for traditional fossil fuels.
The trend takes to the streets in the form of hybrid and electric cars. A recent report shows global electric and hybrid bus sales growing from about 9,000 vehicles in 2016 to 52,000 in 2025. Hybrid and natural gas commercial vehicles are growing in popularity, too.
As petrol stations get replaced by charging stations, the fuel card industry will need to adapt as well.
By enabling a scalable, flexible, customer-driven business model, fuel card providers can protect themselves against these three disruptive trends. If I’ve learned anything from my years in this business, it’s that the next big thing is always out there — but with the right IT approach, you can embrace it with open arms.
In this series of posts, I’m discussing transformations in the fuel card industry, drawing from my years of experience working with the industry and watching it change and shift. I’ll discuss the fundamental drivers and hopefully put to rest any fears that challenges are insurmountable. Far from it, they’re driving innovations that will open companies to a bright future. Join me in the discussion here or connect with me on LinkedIn. I look forward to engaging with you.
Neil Brownlie has been at CSC since 2005 when he joined the company to head up sales for Cards and Payments in Asia, Middle East and Africa. He worked to introduce mobile payment solutions across the region, then in 2012, moved to Austria to lead the Fuel Card group and International sales. In 2014, he was appointed General Manager for Bulgaria. Outside of the office, he enjoys an active outdoor lifestyle, attending concerts and indulging in the good life – and wine – of Austria.