View Source: David Thawley

Forward-thinking field service businesses across all industry sectors are using video telematics.

For too long, service organizations have operated with one arm behind their backs, as a lack of visibility into operations has yielded a largely reactive approach to fleet management, safety and efficiency challenges. While many organizations have graduated from manually managing their technicians, customers and fleets, to doing so with digital tools, there’s still significant room for modernization, especially when we consider recent technical advancements.

Service organizations need to adopt solutions that allow them to both stand out competitively and do more with less, so they can focus on what matters most – providing outstanding service to customers.

Approximately 20% of field service organizations have fully integrated some sort of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology into their service strategy, while an additional 34% are in the process of integrating and another 20% plan to review an AI- and/or machine learning-powered solutions in the next 12 months.3 This is a broad categorization that may include advanced video safety solutions, virtual inspection tools, inventory management solutions and other back-end software. AI and machine learning are just one sub-set of modern, cutting-edge technology that will see greater investments from field service professionals throughout this decade as they look to catch up or get left behind.

Video Telematics: A Clear Sight line into Fleet Operations

Most field service companies currently employ some form of telematics within their fleets; in fact, field service fleets are among the original telematics trailblazers. Now, in 2020, the industry has some catching up to do when it comes to the use of video telematics, a technology widely adopted across commercial and public sector fleets. Ten years ago, video was the fleet technology of the future; today, it is often considered a business necessity.

Basic telematics systems allow fleet managers to locate their vehicles and access raw operational and vehicle data, such as speed and brake usage, but this information doesn’t tell a full story. Video telematics brings video and vehicle data together using a smart dash cam that mounts to the windshield. This convergence of data can provide critical contextual insights into driving and non-driving events and behaviors.

Comparing traditional telematics to video telematics is similar to comparing a traditional doorbell to a video doorbell. With a traditional doorbell, you know somebody is at the front door, but that’s all you know. With a video doorbell, you know if it’s a delivery, a guest, your neighbor or a deer walking in front of your door. Video similarly enhances telematics, especially when working with a sophisticated solution that provides data-based insights, supported by both video and vehicle data. The insights and return on investment are amplified when you can see what happened in real time.

Forward-thinking field service businesses across all industry sectors are using video telematics today to help reduce collisions, insurance premiums and workers’ compensation claims, while improving safety, customer service and operational efficiencies.

To date, users of video telematics have saved an estimated $1.07 billion on claims costs.4 And users of data-driven video telematics solutions with a driver safety focus reduce collisions by up 50% .5 Field service fleets with the technology have already experienced an average 46% reduction in the number of driving incidents with unsafe following distances, 22% reduction in posted speed violations and 19% reduction in unbelted drivers from 2018 to 2019. 6

Video’s Progression

Today’s modern dash cams are cloud-connected and transmit data in near real-time. They employ AI and machine vision to more accurately and efficiently identify opportunities for improvement, whether related to driving performance or potential new revenue streams. The programs around them ensure only the most pertinent information gets delivered to organizations’ dashboards, so users can easily address each point, then move on with their days. There’s also been a shift in how video telematics is offered, with providers moving away from an all-or-nothing format to more configurable solutions that can grow with each business’ changing needs.

With thousands of fleets around the world using video telematics today, it has become clear just how many applications there are for this technology. Particularly in an industry as diverse as field service, the uses reach far beyond safety, including:

  • Confirming service and deliveries
  • Verifying customer claims or complaints for improved customer service
  • Taking the guesswork out of technician coordination and dispatch, including locating and re-routing drivers in real-time to fulfill time-sensitive requests
  • Gaining clarity into idling to improve fuel efficiency
  • Protecting against theft
  • Uncovering the cause of mystery damage to vehicles and equipment
  • Safeguarding brands’ reputations by supporting better driving habits and enabling better customer service
  • Investigating workers’ compensation claims
  • Monitoring unauthorized use of vehicles
  • Confirming technicians are adhering to regulatory compliances, including seatbelt use and proper handling of hazardous chemicals and safety equipment
  • Monitoring vehicles and taking preventive maintenance measures based on real-time data to avoid unplanned downtown and reduce maintenance costs

Many fleets are using video as a way to modernize onboarding and training as well. By employing video to introduce and demonstrate safety and cultural standards, organizations can shift their training programs from a routine, static process to one that is engaging, interactive and enjoyable. This has proven especially useful for recruiting and training millennials, who respond well to interactive learning and multimedia formats.

These are just a handful of the ways video telematics and AI-driven insights are helping fleets transform both their operations and safety culture. And new uses continue to reveal themselves every day.

Looking Ahead

Ten years ago, we saw high market potential for video telematics and a slew of early adopters and new solutions in trucking markets. Today, the vast majority of those fleets use some sort of video telematics technology as their window to the truth, taking the guesswork out of a myriad of critical business decisions.

We see direct parallels between those markets and field service today. Over the next several years, we expect to see widespread adoption of both video telematics and other technologies that can grant organizations new levels of visibility into operations to modernize reactive processes. The spread of these technologies will have a ripple affect across the industry, propelling field service and its constituents into their next decade of growth, as organizations drastically cut costs while improving their customer service and operate far more efficiently as a result.