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SPOTLIGHT: Derek Bryan, vice president EMEA sales, Verizon Connect

Derek Bryan, vice president of sales, Verizon Connect

With a background as a founding member of Fleetmatics in 2005, an Irish Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) fleet management company, Derek Bryan is now vice president of sales in the EMEA region at Verizon Connect. Verizon acquired Fleetmatics in 2016 when Bryan assumed his new role.

In this role, Bryan is responsible for driving growth and innovation across Verizon Connect’s portfolio, as well as leading the sales team and strategy

Like others GBFE has interviewed, Bryan’s first car was a Mini, though he now wafts around in his BMW 640 listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History podcasts. “I love tales of overlooked and misunderstood events in history,” Bryan commented.

If money were no object, Bryan would invest in an Aston Martin or an old Jaguar, adding, “They just don’t make them like they used to.”

What is Verizon Connect’s focus for 2019?

This year we’re focusing on amplifying the integrated, easy-to-use functionality of our platform, which continues to resonate well with our customers.

We’ve launched a number of new products this year to enhance the platform even further. For example, we launched Engine Connect in March; a tool designed for light commercial vehicles which collects critical data directly from a vehicle’s engine to help monitor for potential issues with the vehicle, helping prevent mechanical problems and increase vehicle uptime.

We’ve also updated our digital tachograph offering so that fleet managers can now remotely download data tracking driver activity and mileage. This is helping businesses comply with the new European tachograph regulation, as well as increasing vehicle uptime and streamlining day-to-day processes, whatever the location of a fleet’s vehicles.

How much have you found the fleet sector is changing?

In our conversations with fleet managers we’re seeing strong demand for the ability to capture insights about the performance of their fleets, so they can identify where improvements can be made from an efficiency, safety and productivity perspective.

There’s a lot of interest in asset tracking technology in particular, which has been by far the most in-demand functionality amongst our audience, followed by streamlined digital tachograph integration. As a result, we’ve been concentrating heavily on developing our asset tracking offerings so fleets can monitor their assets in the field, not just their vehicles.

What’s keeping today’s fleet manager awake at night?

We recently surveyed UK fleet managers on their most pressing concerns and found that their number one headache was maintenance and other associated costs, with a third (31%) saying this concern was keeping them awake at night. Other major issues included increasing customer expectations (29%), compliance with the law (24%) and unsafe driving practices (23%).

As a result, fleet managers demand fleet management solutions that help drivers become significantly more efficient, whether that means monitoring excess fuel usage and mileage, highlighting inefficient driving behaviours such as idling or harsh braking, or increasing visibility across the business.

How do you see that continuing to change over the next 5-10 years?

The logistics market is hugely competitive, and enterprises across every sector are looking to technology to get ahead of the competition and better meet customers’ expectations. Innovation has become central to their success, particularly for enterprises that rely on their supply chain or a mobile workforce.

This trend has been going on for some years now, and solutions like mobile workforce management have evolved a long way from the initial days of simply tracking location over GPS. It can now be used to help connect organisational silos, boost operational efficiency, improve safety and deliver better customer service.

In the coming years I expect this trend of innovation to continue, and there are a number of developments that will help drive the mobile workforce into the future.

The first of these is the increasing use of data processes to enable automation. Thanks to additional processing power, managers will be able to generate multiple data sets at once, providing a more informed view of their fleet. At the same time, greater processing power will make all this extra data easier for fleet managers to understand and facilitate the automation of some tasks. It’s likely that this trend will continue to grow as the industry harnesses the ability to collect more contextually relevant data from a combination of devices such as vehicle, mobile and other IoT-enabled sensors.

Another innovation on the horizon is the additional computing power within vehicles. While the widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles may be some time off, the computing power of non-autonomous vehicles is already growing significantly, to the point that vehicles can now report more information to managers than ever before. This trend is likely to continue, as the depth and quality of this data increases, enabling the effective management of vehicle maintenance and reduction of fuel consumption.

Voice dictation will also begin to emerge as a useful tool for fleet managers. The technology is slowly beginning to replace typing in online queries and could significantly improve the mobile workforce by providing workers with hands-free input of data, activation of tasks and communication with managers. It means they can do their job more effectively, without having to take their eyes off the task at hand, creating a better, safer field working experience.

What’s the one essential item you can’t live without, and why?

Online banking – how did we ever live without it?! I can’t imagine having to go to the bank to perform a transaction now, and yet that was exactly what we had to do not too long ago!