According to Lex Autolease’s Report on Company Motoring 2015, 11% of the 1,041 company drivers surveyed have one-way commutes typically of an hour in duration. This may soon become more productive, courtesy of ‘connected’ vehicle technology, as part of the ‘Internet of Things’. The latest BI Intelligence report from Business Insider UK forecasts that 75% of the 92 million cars estimated to be shipped globally in 2020 will be internet-enabled. But how will this impact on business?
“Harman’s announcement that they will be working in collaboration with Microsoft is exciting for business drivers”, comments Alan Locke of AYCEN garages in Manchester. “Cloud-based systems such as Microsoft Office 365 being integrated into car infotainment systems means drivers will be able to schedule meetings, join Skype and other conference calls, and manage tasks and events in Outlook as well as listen to and dictate emails on the move”, he explains.
Ford’s Sync 3 system, in conjunction with the Sync Connect app, will allow a vehicle’s fuel level and location to be monitored or checked remotely from a connected device. Integrated with other services, live traffic data and local fuel prices can be sent to Sync 3 cars on demand. The Concur expense report tracking system will also provide useful information for fleet managers and HR departments.
Alongside Ford, other car manufacturers such as BMW are also forging ahead with connected vehicle technology. The German firm’s Open Mobility Cloud Concept aims to allow domestic appliances, lights and TV recorders to be controlled from a car. This principle applied to the corporate market would also enable business drivers to “work from their offices” while in their car.
Fatigued company car drivers, in the not-too-distant future, may be driving vehicles equipped with safety systems like the one unveiled by Harman at CES 2016. It monitors a driver’s pupils, measuring alertness, energy levels and cognitive workload.
Car software updates provided via Wi-Fi, along with crowd-shared traffic data, will reduce the amount of time fleet vehicles, and indeed private cars, are off the road.
It is clear that business drivers and fleet managers will have an increasingly diverse mix of vehicle technology available to them. This will enhance the ability to monitor and engage with fleet vehicles, and providing employees with the opportunity to use travel time for working.
Legislators and drivers themselves may, however, voice a vote of no confidence on contractual and safety grounds.
Business Aspects appreciates Alan Locke‘s contribution to this article.