How Verizon Connect Is Preparing Commercial Vehicles For The Connected, Autonomous Future
"As companies wade through the various predictions and prognostications of the autonomous future, they should zero in on the effects that the connected vehicle ecosystem can have now to increase the optimization of their fleets and mobile workers," says Verizon Connect CMO Jay Jaffin.
As almost all new vehicles leaving dealerships are a “Connected Car” to some extent these days, the services available for the Internet of Automotives are still catching up.
Even more than consumer-facing demand for Smart Car services, commercial vehicles have been paving the way for a while. One of the entities advancing the role of Connected Car services for business vehicles is Verizon Connect.
Established in March 2018,Verizon Connect was the result of two fleet and mobile workforce management software companies that were acquired by its telecom parent and placed under a single, combined brand.
Billed as the “culmination of more than $5 billion in investments,” Verizon Connect offers fleet services and business vehicle operators — already a long list that includes delivery trucks like FreshDirect among others “a one-stop approach to connected vehicle software solutions and services that help drive safety, productivity and efficiency.”
CMO Jay Jaffin has been working to get that word out to clients. Before joining the Verizon Connect team, Jaffin served as the vice president of marketing communications at Verizon Wireless.
GeoMarketing: How would you describe the state of the Connected Car right now? Is it still in the experimental stage? Or can we say that with the available technologies, that the Connected Car is fully mainstream?
Jay Jaffin: The state of the Connected Car today is still in the early stages in terms of its potential, although its beginnings can be traced back to the early 1990s. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently defined five different levels of autonomous driving, or a fully connected car. Level five refers to a fully-autonomous system, able to maneuver without human interaction and interact with the road, structures and other vehicles. To put this into perspective, we’re currently in stage two – distinguished by the presence of driver support systems, like cruise control and blind-spot monitoring systems.
That being said, the state of the Connected Car has made huge strides in recent years. As companies and consumers look to the future, it they will need to assess how the connected car ecosystem will affect their daily lives, and how they can prepare for that change. Verizon Connect is leading this charge, working to unite all the disparate functions that encompass connected transportation, setting the stage for wider business adoption and functionality.
What sort of impact is the Connected Car and related smart devices having on the relationship between drivers, their cars, and businesses?
Verizon Connect’s technology hits on three pain points that are common challenges for fleet management professionals – safety, productivity and efficiency.
For instance, on the point of safety, Verizon Connect provides the necessary data and insights that enable clients to stay fully informed on driving behavior. Our software platforms are capable of pulling real-time data from fleet vehicles and equipment (and their drivers and operators), capturing when they are speeding, braking harshly, or even deviating from their set route, and then translating that information into actionable insights. Equipped with this knowledge, businesses can then monitor for potential issues – such as rerouting – and take corrective measures, thus improving productivity.
Verizon Connect’s software can also be fully embedded at the factory level, pulling vehicle diagnostics on fuel levels and emission rates, helping drivers and companies to improve efficiency. Verizon Connect even deploys gamification techniques that recognize safe driving, improving safety and the overall experience.
This technology has the potential to change whole industries, including auto insurance. In the future, coverage rates won’t be based on factors like age and geographic location, but instead can be based on a proven history of safe driving, backed by statistical evidence.
Can you talk about what Verizon Connect is and what its origins are?
Verizon Connect is guiding a connected world on-the-go by automating, optimizing and revolutionizing the way people, vehicles and things move through the world. Over the past 10 years, the connected commercial vehicle software market had expanded rapidly. The industry had become increasingly fragmented, and Verizon acquired the two leaders in the space: Telogis, a mobile enterprise management software company focused on large enterprises and OEM partnerships, and Fleetmatics, a fleet management platform company focused on small to medium-sized fleet customers. We added Fleetmatics and Telogis to our Hughes Telematics, Networkfleet and Hum by Verizon businesses to form Verizon Connect.
How can Verizon Connect’s services generate customer loyalty?
Verizon Connect’s technologies and services generate data collected from our customers’ vehicles, employees and the work they do to provide actionable insights for their companies. When our customers are able to identify ways to improve productivity and efficiency within their business, their own customers benefit as a result. Services like live ETAs, collecting payments onsite, accurately direct fleet deliveries to a specific loading dock, which are benefits ultimately felt by the customer, thus driving satisfaction and loyalty.
Considering all the potential disruption of the auto industry from the connected car, how will the car companies derive revenue from these new IoT related services and tools?
Automotive OEMs have long recognized that in order to succeed, creating extraordinary customer experiences, loyalty and revenue outside of building a great car or truck is paramount. When our mutual customers purchase a van, car or truck for commercial purposes, it’s not to park it in the garage — they put that vehicle to work and expect it to make money for them from day one. By embedding connectivity and the software to help drive safety, productivity and efficiency in the vehicle, automotive OEMs give their customers a much broader, more comprehensive experience that drives loyalty, additional revenue and repeat purchase.
What partners does Verizon Connect chiefly work with and how are they helping shape the Connected Car future?
Verizon Connect has a number of key partnerships, including those with some of the largest automotive OEMs in the world; Ford, General Motors, Hino (the commercial division of Toyota), Volvo, Mack, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz and many more.
What can businesses do now to develop their connected vehicle go-to-market strategies?
While consumers have the luxury of gradually warming up to the idea, businesses have no choice but to plan for the future or fall behind in the market. As companies wade through the various predictions and prognostications of the autonomous future, they should zero in on the effects that the connected vehicle ecosystem can have now to increase the optimization of their fleets and mobile workers.
Companies should look to advancements in connected commercial vehicle technologies and related applications for strategies they can apply to boost safety, productivity and efficiency for the entirety of their mobile operations (people, vehicles and assets). Not only will expanded connectivity and smarter applications remove the guesswork from mobile and field operations, but the increased agility that comes from embracing these advancements will future-proof organizations and prepare them for what lies ahead.
What are the main challenges facing automakers in terms of Connected Car — is it largely tech integration issues or is it mostly awareness among consumers and general brands?
In the same way that the Internet’s full market penetration wasn’t done overnight, connected car adoption faces some barriers. For the necessary technology solutions to be fully embraced by businesses and consumers, it will take cooperation between legislation and multi-national corporations. And given that the average time span for vehicle ownership is 10-12 years, it will take several decades to fully cycle out older, non-autonomous vehicles, with added costs to upgrade existing vehicles with connected car solutions or smart devices.
Another existing barrier surrounds 5G connectivity. Over the next two years, it’s estimated one in five vehicles will have some degree of network connectivity, which will need to be supported by a state-of-the-art infrastructure that can send and process information in disparate locations and at high speeds. 5G is the answer, and while it’s expected to have a larger role in the connected car in the coming years, the initial transition will take time.