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Lockdown leads to digitisation of fleet services

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The digitisation of fleets services is rapidly expanding as fleet decision-makers adapt to the COVID-19 crisis, says the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP).

An increasing trend in digitisation of fleet services can be seen right across the industry, according to AFP co-chair Paul Hollick, from service suppliers to employers communicating with drivers.

“Much of this trend has been prompted by the sudden and widespread switch to home working that has been caused by lockdown,” he said.

“Processes that were perhaps paper or telephone powered because people all worked in the same office are now being digitised.”

At the most basic level, Hollick says this might be something as simple as how you communicate with drivers who are now scattered across a wide geographical area.

However, he said: “It could be that you have also adopted an app for completing and auditing walkaround safety checks.”

The increasing use of digital services is also being employed by suppliers.

“For example, speed awareness companies are starting to offer virtual courses, and the call centre you deal with is perhaps now operating 100% remotely because the provider is unable to utilise its off-shore operations while it is under lockdown,” said Hollick.

“Some of this is being driven by necessity – lockdown conditions mean that new methods are needed to carry out essential tasks – but there also appears to have been an acceleration in development of some sophisticated solutions being brought to market quickly because now is a moment where the extra efficiencies or benefits they bring might make a real difference.”

Hollick expects lockdown conditions to persist for some time and that it could lead to further useful and interesting innovations in fleet.

“It seems unlikely that lockdown conditions will end for a while and even then, there is certain to be a relatively slow return to something that might be considered normality, so the forces driving this process of digitisation are likely to persist for a long while yet,” he said.

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