One of the key tasks facing fleet software developers is to make the growing wave of “big data” surrounding company cars and vans easily understandable.
So says fleet software specialist Chevin, which reports that the fleet software systems of today are being asked to handle something like 10 times as muchdata as those from a decade ago, and that they in turn stored 10 times as much as in the mid-1990s.
Ashley Sowerby, managing director, explained: “’Big data’ refers to the fact that, in the modern world, we produce so much information that traditional ways of making it understandable are no longer much use.
“This is something that is undeniably happening in fleet. The amount of data being stored and processed by fleet management software systems has risen exponentially in the last decade and the trend looks set to continue.
“Of course, this is fundamentally a good thing. Having more and better quality information about fleets means that better informed decisions can be made. But it does present a challenge: how can you present this data in a meaningful way?”
Sowerby said that Chevin had been working on this issue for some time and had found that a lot could be achieved simply through thoughtful design that brings clarity.
He said: “For example, we divide the CO2 output of cars into colour bands. If you are seeing more green than red on the screen when you call up a report on your carbon footprint, you know immediately that you are doing well without needing to drill down into the data.
“We are also creating ever more sophisticated but also simpler dashboards that allow you to see, at a glance, whether your fleet is meeting its key performance targets. Again, the aim is clarity. Older readers may remember that, once upon a time, if all the needles in the dials on a car dashboard pointed upwards, then you knew at a glance that the vehicle was running well. We want the same kind of intuitive feel and again are using colour extensively.
“Of course, this is an ongoing challenge. Future developments such as greater use of telematics, mobile data and the connected car all mean that big data is only going to get bigger and we will see more exponential increases. Making this mass of information easily digestible and just good, old fashioned useful will require more and more ingenuity.”