What is telematics and how can it transform the modern workplace?

As the workforce becomes increasingly untethered from the office, how can telematic data help to transform modern business practices?

One of the main drivers behind success is the ability to innovate, to grasp the opportunity and always being ready to adapt and evolve. A recent guide from Northern Ireland business experts, NI Business, explains how innovation can lead to anything from improved productivity to reduced costs. The trick is knowing which aspects of your business to apply your innovative skills to, and which areas to draw inspiration from.

One of the key technologies that has been rising through the innovation ranks is telematics, a field which has been around as long as the internet, but which is developing very quickly along with modern technology. Telematics is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses telecommunications, vehicular technologies, sensors and wireless communication, and the internet. It is essentially the practice of taking information from one source and transferring it elsewhere within a business.

Building transparency into business

As the workforce becomes more remote, organisations need to adopt more transparent methods of communication and operation to inspire mutual trust between employees and the company. Telematics can be an important catalyst to enable complete transparency across the business when the workforce is no longer always in the office.

Traditionally, telematics has been used to track vehicles and fleets (within the transport sector) and employees who often worked away from the office, such as sales executives. In both instances, advances in GPS tracking means complete transparency when a workforce is out on the road. By having instant access to employees travelling patterns and idle times, business leaders can understand which customers are taking up the rep’s time, and perhaps then redirect efforts from the centralised location on serving those customers. However, this is only a very rudimentary example of where telematics can be used within modern business.

That is an example of a use for telematics looking into the past, but what about looking ahead? Forbes outlines how a modern, reactive business needs to accelerate the speed of communication, lead flow and response, something telematics can help drive. In the context of roaming employees, information around travel times and locations can allow days to be planned accurately and time to be managed much more efficiently.

By analysing the data collected through telematics, a manager can also ascertain the productivity of their staff. Aspects such as fuel efficiency can be examined too, maybe allowing journeys to then be planned at times of the day when congestion in cities is low. At the very sharp end of telematics, messages can be sent in real-time to people on the road based on the data, for instance, if traffic is heavy somewhere, or if they are taking an inefficient route to their next stop. Of course, all of this relies heavily on the manager interpreting the data, but again modern technology can help.

Applying telematics to the smart office

In the article ‘Smart office: Exploring Workplace Apps and Visitor Management’,  the core components of the smart office were explored, and apps played a central role in enabling them. No longer does a manager have to be out of the office and question the productivity and efficiency of their staff. App-based technology delivers data from telematics directly to a mobile device, allowing employees and managers alike to understand where and how people are working.

The uses of telematics will vary across different industries, but for the modern workplace its role is to enable transparent communication and work patterns across a business. The hybrid nature of the post-pandemic workforce means that telematic data will become increasingly important for teams to understand where their employees and colleagues are on a day-to-day basis, with constantly having to check-in with them.

Telematics might have been around as long as the internet, but only in the age of smart offices and the increase depth of GPS data is it beginning to truly revolutionise our working practices.

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