I was recently asked to give a speech on the future of mobility by the NAFA Philadelphia Chapter. I welcome these opportunities because it forces me to focus beyond my near-term deadlines and conceptualize an emerging future by projecting forward current trend lines. My assessment is that for the foreseeable future there will be no one-size-fits-all mobility model and the ongoing proliferation of competing mobility services will continue to be aggregated under the generic Mobility as a Service (MaaS) umbrella. In addition, the disruption caused by the introduction of new mobility options is only one of three megatrends that will simultaneously sweep through the global fleet market, triggering change to our traditional business model. The three megatrends that will disrupt and reshape fleet management in the next decade are:
Expansion of the traditional fleet model into a broader multi-modal mobility management for employees. The merger of the in-house fleet management and corporate travel services into a single corporate entity. The integration of fleet/mobility management into the emerging connected vehicle ecosystem.
One potential to the convergence of these three megatrends is that fleet operations may evolve to become only one facet of a larger corporate mobility management function that has multi-level responsibilities for asset lifecycle management, administration of multi-modal mobility services, and deployment of productivity and safety tools to support the mobile workforce in the field.
Mobility management is not a threat to the fleet profession, but it will alter it, most likely for the better. Ultimately, today’s consumer mobility options will be blended into a menu of hybrid fleet services offered as employee mobility choices by corporations. These services will be new tools in the fleet manager’s toolbox.
One way mobility management will alter fleet management is that it expands the services offered beyond the finite number of employees who qualify for a company-provided vehicle, which represents only 10-20% of the employee population. Management of mobility services allows fleet service to serve the other 80-90% of the workforce who do not qualify for company vehicles, but have their own mobility needs. However, in order for mobility management to succeed, there must be viable alternatives to company-provided vehicles, such as a well-connected public transportation network seamlessly interconnected with “last mile” mobility solutions. The fleet management job of the future will be far more complex by having to manage a number of different mobility suppliers, covering the different categories of travel, versus today’s traditional focus on managing the vehicle asset and driver.
An important caveat is that mobility services are not applicable to all fleet segments. For example, the majority of companies are truck-based vocational fleets geared to specialized mission requirements that necessitates operating expensive job-specific equipment, which doesn’t lend itself to a mobility offering. While sales fleets are the better candidates to adopt mobility solutions, some sales reps require secure storage that is offered by a locked vehicle trunk. For instance, pharma reps need secure storage when transporting drug samples. Similarly, merchandise salespeople often carry expensive or bulky point-of-sales displays that favor an employee-assigned vehicles versus a mobility program.
For decades, management has recognized the similarities between fleet and travel management. For instance, a growing number of managers have dual responsibility of managing both fleet and travel, since they are viewed as complementary functions.
The boundaries between fleet and travel management will further converge as the travel functionality and fleet functionality become simply different manifestations of the same mobility options. This will provide the business case to realign fleet and travel management into a single corporate function to control spend, improve operational efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions, and increase employee satisfaction. These