Fleet News

Internet transforms UK fleet operations

A MAJOR survey covering firms operating more than two million vehicles has revealed how the internet is transforming fleet operations.

The exclusive Fleet News Internet Survey 2004, revealed at the Manage Your Fleet Online conference, showed a fleet market that is beginning to embrace technology and make the most of web-based systems.

It also showed how modern technology is presenting fleets with major new challenges, particularly when it comes to security.

The survey of more than 250 fleets, carried out by email, including some of the largest in the country, found that nearly all fleet decision-makers now have access to the internet from their work computers and so do their staff.

Decision-makers revealed that on average they send 25 emails every day and receive 37, meaning the fleet manager has to handle 62 emails a day.

But some fleets have to deal with many more, with some claiming they send and receive up to 150 emails every day, which risks the efficiency benefits of email being wiped out by sheer volume.

Fleets estimate that 40% of their contact with suppliers is now by email, with more than 70% saying they felt it was better than contact by telephone.

The key benefit is organisation. Despite the number of emails that employees have to deal with, the computer acts as a virtual memory, recording every conversation and comment which can be searched in date, name or subject order, interviewees said.

The survey also showed that on average fleet decision-makers spend eight hours a week on the internet for work purposes.

The main use was for stories or information on fleet issues and getting information on current suppliers. Fleets also used it to compare prices and find new suppliers, while a minority used it to access their own fleet information via a supplier's website.

Of those using online services, vehicle management is the most popular, while more than one-third also use the web for travel booking, rental booking and vehicle ordering.

But fleets admitted there were some major concerns, mainly over security and accuracy.

For example, without effective protection software, businesses can leave themselves open to viruses such as Mydoom, which spread throughout the world via email last week, damaging millions of computer systems.

Fleets are also concerned about hackers gaining access to company information because suppliers' systems may not be secure enough.

Firms also raised concerns that staff given access to the internet to run the fleet may abuse the privilege and 'surf' the internet instead of working.

Despite this, overall there was overwhelming support for the internet, with 88% of firms saying they intended to use the internet more often as part of their work over the next year.

In total, the survey covered firms running 1,739,640 cars and 342,331 vans. Excluding leasing and rental companies, the survey covered 496,760 cars and 92,531 vans.

  • Copies of the Fleet News Internet Survey 2004, priced at £10, are available from Fleet News. Call 01733 468298 or email jeremy.bennett@emap.com. We accept credit cards or cheques made payable to Emap Automotive Ltd.

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