The self-driving car. What once seemed like a bit of folklore has come to life on the streets of American cities – and should soon be motoring people – and things – around the world.
Tesla’s Elon Musk recently promised a new auto with the highest level of autonomy to be available to the public in 2017. Business Intelligence has predicted 10 million self-driving cars to be on the roads by 2020. And earlier this year, a fleet of a dozen largely autonomous trucks drove itself (safely) across Europe.
Beyond the fun sci-fi element, what interests me about this phenomenon is how it will likely change those industries that support cars, trucks, fleets and drivers. I’m talking about petrol companies, mechanics, insurers and the like. The connected car opens up new realms of possibilities in these spaces – as well as one I keep a close eye on, the fuel card industry.
The connected car and the broader Internet of Things (IoT) it represents offers huge opportunities for the fuel card industry.
Companies can now collect sensor- and entry-based data in a highly automated manner. Devices – including connected fleet vehicles, sensors at the petrol pump, drivers’ mobile phones – can collect and distribute data in secure ways, making this intelligence available for deeper analysis.
I’ve talked before about how data coming from customers, connected vehicles and transactions can be used to drive rich business insights, and I truly see this as the wave of the future for the fuel card industry.
But big data intelligence is only one benefit. The customer experience – and the customer/provider relationship – can be hugely impacted in very positive ways as well, if fuel card companies embrace and approach IoT intelligently.
Take the connected fleet vehicle. An on-board diagnostic interface could offer a vast range of personalized services, including maintaining a driver’s logbook. Drivers could automatically track data of important factors like distance, mileage, private purchases and transaction history. Another useful feature is dynamic route planning that takes tolls, fuel use, pricing, weather, car park availability and other events into account.
When a driver stops for fuel, the system could automatically check fluid levels (engine oil, washing water, coolant) and let the driver know if any needed to be tapped off – even before the vehicle indicator comes on. A connected mobile app could suggest the right engine oil for the type – and let the driver know it’s in stock at the on-site convenience store.
This type of IoT-enhanced exchange makes life on the road easier for the fuel card customer – and it allows the business to gain more insight into – and form more fruitful connections with – the driver.
But it is not just the driver who can benefit. Fuel retailers can provide richer data back to their customers; they can spend less time manually capturing data at point of sale, thus providing higher throughput in the retail environment….
There’s so much potential here, and we’re just starting to see it all come to life. Exciting, isn’t it??
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.