I work with fleet managers on a daily basis and am always asked the same question when discussing GPS telematics programs: “How do I know whether this program will succeed?”

The question comes with good reason. Many have heard of spectacular failures from their peers who’ve been through the process and were left to wonder where it all went wrong. They signed up for the program, got the hardware, began collecting mountains of data—what happened?

Why no fleet improvement?

I tell them the same thing I’ll share with you—that success is not about the hardware, and it’s not about the data. It’s about the decisions you make and how clearly you understand what the data is telling you.

Many telematics providers rely heavily on their customers’ abilities to absorb and process all of the data kicked out by these systems. They’re told that all they have to do is use the canned reports and they’ll magically see the trends in the numbers, see the answers, the problems, the opportunities—and know how to move forward with corrective action. The providers are essentially asking their customers to take a “leap of faith” in their solution. Just plug it in and “trust us, the problems will appear and solutions will be obvious”. I have years of experience seeing this phenomenon and can tell you that this approach is doomed from the start.

Let me explain.

You—reading this—might be a fleet manager. You were hired for your ability to coordinate drivers, vehicles, schedules, corporate goals, budgets and more. You were not hired for your ability to scan thousands of numbers or driver trend reports looking for patterns. You don’t have the time—let alone the experience, or interest—in diving into an endless pool of data. So what do you accomplish by plugging GPS telematics? You become “data rich and knowledge poor”.

My suggestion here is not go it alone, but to leverage the expertise of people who deal with this type of GPS telematics data on a regular basis. Just as you would do with a financial advisor or medical doctor—don’t self-diagnose, let the professionals offer guidance. Why? Because, making the right decisions is the difference between poor vs. rich, sick vs. healthy, high-performance fleet vs. mountains of mysterious metrics. (OK, an extreme example, but my point is clear.)

GPS telematics can be complex but can deliver high ROI: consumer and driver safety, cost savings, operational efficiency, reputation, cultural change, etc. You should not make decisions on telematics data without expert guidance helping you understand your options. When you collaborate with someone experienced with the data—who can work with you step-by-step, explain the trends and offer insights—you’re taking much of the risk out of the equation.

Think of GPS telematics as something that must be done in collaboration with a partner who can help. Don’t just buy the technology, buy the team too. This is the best way to ensure success. And the best advice I can share with you to turn that leap of faith into a step toward success.

Authored by Dave Brauer of Orion Fleet Intelligence. Orion is a national provider of fleet telematics to the human services and insurance industries known for its unique approach to offering advanced insight and guidance to its customers on how to fully capitalize on the trends and opportunities captured by fleet data. For more information on Orion or its fleet telematics program, please visit www.orionfi.com.