The concept of telematics is increasingly becoming mainstream as the full breadth of the technology trickles into the consumer vehicle market. But what does it actually look like in action? And what does it mean for companies in the transportation industry that currently manage fleets of connected vehicles each and every day?
The information being gathered and measured with telematics technology goes lightyears beyond what you might be able to get from a standard GPS system. With industry-leading sensors and devices in place, businesses track where a vehicle was, how long it was there, what time it arrived, and what time it departed. They know which road the vehicle took, how fast it was going, and what the weather was like at the time.
In addition to all those data points, how did the driver handle the vehicle? Were they driving fast, accelerating, harsh braking, or idling for too long? Did they have their seatbelt on? All of this information is available with telematics.
Then, layer that with the data that can be tracked at the vehicle level. What was the cranking voltage, coolant temperature, RPMs, and fuel level, for example? During a normal day when a driver is out doing their job nine to five, the vehicle data measurements alone are in the thousands.
It’s easy to see the safety and accountability benefits telematics is bringing to the transportation industry and beyond, as well as the growth potential of companies bringing telematics-based products and services to market.
Adding value to the provision of commercial telematics
While telematics may be new to many of us, pioneers of the industry have been at this for some time.
EnVue Telematics—with over 20 years of transportation industry experience—provides fleet management solutions to transportation businesses of all kinds. This includes provisioning a range of asset tracking and dash-camera devices to aid in fleet routing, dispatching and safety, as well as managing ongoing subscription services associated with these devices.
Susan Johnson, COO (top row, third from the left) and Randy Read, president (fourth from the right) with several EnVue Telematics support team members
The company also enables its customers to meet Department of Transportation (DOT) compliance standards and regulations, even while accommodating specific logistics requirements such as cold chain custody (temperature-controlled supply chain).
Prior to the genesis of EnVue Telematics, company president Randy Read and COO Susan Johnson worked together in the telematics vertical for another company.
It was the early days of the industry, and while the product they worked with back then did not gain much traction, the concept was very exciting. Both Read and Johnson saw the huge potential of telematics and knew there would come a time when people would really start embracing it.
Over the years the two kept in touch, and in 2010 they saw an opportunity to go after their vision by partnering with Geotab—now the global leader in connected transport. They wrote a business plan, built additional partnerships in the industry, and by 2011 the business took off.
“It has been a growth market for us and for everybody involved in telematics,” said Johnson.
Harnessing the potential of telematics for better fleet management
As a value-added reseller of telematics solutions, EnVue Telematics works closely with its clients to evaluate their fleet-management needs, and then advises on the best products to suit them. Everything the company does for its customers enables a clear, granular view of their fleet operations on a day-to-day basis and in real time.
In fact, the name for the company came about because its focus is to bring all the relevant information “in view” for companies so they can increase their safety, efficiency, and profitability, and create more data-driven strategies for success.
As the company grew and evolved over the years, it added more products and advanced capabilities along the way, in addition to growing its number of customers and recurring subscriptions.
In 2018, the responsibility of all things financial at EnVue Telematics was passed on to Johnson. She took the time to get her arms wrapped around her team’s current processes, and she also started to investigate how she could add greater efficiency going forward.
Advanced subscription billing for an evolving telematics business
Even before this added responsibility, Johnson had been pushing to implement a subscription billing system because she knew it would give the company better insight into its sales figures, subscription growth, and customer churn rate.
At the time, if she wanted this kind of information, she would have to pull reports, put the information into spreadsheets, and analyze it.
We were always lagging a month, five, or even six weeks to know and take action on this information,” she said. “It was all so manual.”
Digital transformation and billing automation were additional goals for Johnson. The company’s subscription billing process was taking about 24 hours to complete each month. And manual reporting on its recurring subscriptions tacked on even more time and tedious effort.
She needed to find a subscription billing platform. And as an added mandate, it would need to integrate and sit sub-ledger to QuickBooks—the company’s accounting platform.
After going down many paths to find the right fit, EnVue Telematics signed on with Fusebill in spring 2018.
Automation and insight for enhanced subscription management
Moving thousands of customer subscriptions into a state of automated billing and management involved some stutter steps in the beginning. But once EnVue Telematics’ subscriptions were up and running through Fusebill, the company started seeing benefits in many areas.
"Accurately billing our monthly reoccurring revenue had always been one of the biggest challenges for our accounting department," says Johnson.
"The Fusebill platform has given us the ability to not only bill, but to be able track our devices down to the Vehicle’s VIN. As a billing-only system, it sits sub-ledger to QuickBooks, so we didn’t have to completely move to a new accounting system, making it easier and faster to get up and running. Fiscally, it has given me dashboard insight to the health of our company with easy-to-interpret dashboards focused on revenue and customer growth, month over month."
The three-day billing process that involved manually creating invoices for each of the company’s thousands of recurring subscriptions was completely automated. And through this automation, the company started achieving greater billing accuracy, enabling it to recover additional revenue on a recurring basis.
The company has also been able to evolve the way it tracks its streams of revenue by breaking all its products down by general ledger (GL) code—something it never did before.
This means it can now differentiate between revenue it’s making from its ancillary products—like cameras and trackers—and the recurring revenue it’s making from subscriptions for data plans related to the use of some of these ancillary products.
Since starting with Fusebill, Johnson has also been able to provide a whole new level of useful transparency to her entire team.
“In the Fusebill platform, everybody can see the client count, how many units they have, and things like that. It has allowed me to provide access to data that means something to the entire team.”
This gives everyone at EnVue Telematics the ability to quickly access the data they need to perform their jobs and run the business more efficiently.
Planning for telematics growth with granular clarity
The biggest benefit for Johnson has been the elevated level of insight she has been able to achieve into customer activity, the status of subscriptions, the company’s sales effectiveness, and its overall growth and well-being.
Johnson said preparing the company’s budget and sales forecasting used to take a couple of months of going back and forth with her business partner, Read. But this year’s budget and forecasting only took half a day thanks to the improved insight she gets from Fusebill.
I now have a very clear picture of our subscription level increases, our gross revenue growth, and our month-over-month improvement,” she said. “I know that we have increased monthly revenue since last July by X amount of dollars, and that X amount of dollars increase is very rewarding to easily see.”
All the time and effort Johnson has put into streamlining processes and improving efficiencies since she took over the financial side of EnVue Telematics are clearly paying off.
“It's all in one beautiful dashboard for me, and that's what I envisioned when we started this company. The ability to see all of that information in one place, and in a way that is easy to interpret.”
With greater billing automation, accuracy, and clarity going forward, the business is confidently reinvesting into its continued growth and future success.