How HERE and Fleetboard will deliver innovation to fleet management

Jamie Stevenson
London 51° 30' 23.112" N, -0° 7' 37.956" E" E

Innovation can occur for many reasons -- a moment of inspiration, perhaps, or the introduction of an exciting new technology. Yet, maybe the greatest contributor to innovation is collaboration -- when like-minded people come together to create something new. This is the case with HERE and Fleetboard, who are working together to drive innovation in the fleet management sector.

Fleetboard has been a HERE customer since 2008. But in 2016, a different form of collaboration was born, with each company launching their own innovation divisions that would work together to develop just that -- innovative solutions.

We spoke with Julien Slijan, head of the innovation division at the HERE IoT business group, and Harald Marx, head of the Innovation hub at Fleetboard, who told us more about the goals for their respective teams.

"For many years," Julien told us, "HERE has been building a strong location platform offering for fleet management. This includes truck specific routing, mobile SDK and fleet specific platform extensions that enable our customers to build fleet solutions."

"Our role as the innovation team is to support HERE growth in new IoT markets, and to continue to expand HERE offerings with innovative and disruptive solutions in fleet management."

As for Fleetboard, the company builds hardware that is fitted into Mercedes Benz vehicles, and delivers solutions to logistics companies that improve efficiency when managing these vehicles. The role of the innovation hub, however, is slightly different. Harald explains:

"The innovation hub's role is to think up highly innovative products that address the current and future needs of our customers. We aim to offer a fresh view onto our current products and think of what we can do in the future."

So, how are these two innovative divisions working together?

Call for collaboration

Both teams realised that, in order to reach the level of innovation each company is striving for, collaboration was crucial. Julien says:

"To reach the velocity required for today's innovation, you need to team up, partner and bring competencies, assets and talent together. You need to bring the competency of a market leader in fleet management, which Fleetboard is, and combine it with HERE's competencies in location technologies."

As a result, the HERE and Fleetboard innovation teams decided to collaborate and together explore the future of fleet management and logistics, with data a key ingredient. Harald explains:

"Our greatest asset is that both Fleetboard and HERE has a huge amount of data already available. Our products are already connected and the data they generate can help us look into patterns and see what new solutions can be developed to best serve the logistics industry."

This data is collected by Fleetboard from customers, though each customer has to give their permission before it can be used. With data privacy a pressing issue, both companies understand the vital importance of adhering to Europe's strict data laws, and do so.

Harald adds, "By working together to discover how this data can be used to deliver services that benefit fleet managers and drivers, we can streamline processes and deliver significant benefits to the industry."

In practical terms, this means using Fleetboard's connected trucks -- one of the largest fleets under management -- and HERE's extensive location data to build solutions that could, for example, streamline journey planning so that fleet managers can reduce fuel consumption, lowering costs and being eco-friendlier.

Hack to the future

In order to strengthen the sense of community between the two teams, a hackathon was arranged.

This provided an opportunity for HERE to learn more about the truck market, including problems drivers face -- bridges that are too low, for example, and size restrictions on country roads -- and for Fleetboard to learn more about the basics of HERE APIs and get a glimpse into more advanced features.

It also offered the teams to Identify gaps in the skillsets, technology and quality of data, and how each company could help fulfil aspects that may be missing from the other.

The hackathon was a huge success, according to Julien and Harald.

Julien says: "Bringing disruptive new solutions to the market requires a different approach for companies the size of HERE and Fleetboard. In the spirit of this collaborative innovation; the hackathon is a way for our teams to get to know each other and exchange experience and know-how very quickly."

Harald adds, "This was unique for us, and was the first time we worked so closely with an external partner. It was very useful – we know we can't do everything on our own, so we want to collaborate and need partners like HERE to share knowledge."

The hackathon had combined teams take on challenges like the creation of a more feature rich map for trucks, and optimising fleet operation based on usage data. The results, according to Julien, were impressive:

"What came out of the hackathon was three new product ideas that go across the overall workflow of fleet management, from the optimisation of fleet operation to a better driver experience."

The ideas will be discussed in more detail once the teams have had the chance to refine them further, but the hackathon should reap immediate and lasting benefits.

Harald tells us: "We want to bring new products to customers and deliver a joint solution which brings innovation to the market, and has a real impact on the customer. Logistics is a great area to work in as there's a huge potential for innovation. I believe that HERE and Fleetboard can help deliver this."

The teams' joint expertise, and now familiarity with one another, bodes well for the logistics industry.

"Together we can build the most accurate map and location index for trucks," Julien concludes. "This will enable the creation of an all-new range of fleet solutions to support fleet operations."

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Topics: Fleet management, Editor's picks

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