MDM for Fleet Telematics: A Smarter Way to Manage Vehicles

  • April 19, 2023

Vehicles have now turned into mobile devices, with OSes like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay/CarOS—both mirroring mobile apps on vehicle displays. Not to forget BlackBerry QNS. These OSs have transformed vehicle dashboards into portals with immense capabilities, ranging from in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) to what’s been deemed the next revolution in the automotive industry—connected and autonomous vehicles. Hence, fleet telematics is now integral to the automotive industry.

MDM for Fleet Telematics

The automotive industry has made quantum leaps from the Ford conveyor belt assembly line manufacturing days to the current state of affairs. Industrial IoT (IIoT), digital twins, and 3D printing have made giant strides in manufacturing modern automobiles. Another sea change is how cross-industry partnerships are coming to the fore. Some years ago, you wouldn’t imagine automotive OEMs partnering with tech players (Volkswagen and Qualcomm, Volvo and Google, Mercedes and Nvidia, and plenty more). It’s all happening now. It’s all about ‘CASE’ (connected, autonomous, shared, and electric) vehicles.

What is Fleet Telematics?

Fleet telematics is essential for any organization that requires commercial vehicles (heavy or light or passenger cars) in its operations or functions. Monitoring and managing these vehicle fleets in real-time using modern-day technologies like onboard diagnostics (OBD) and GPS is known as telematics.

Fleet Telematics

With the widespread incorporation of operating systems in vehicle dashboards, there’s a strong case for adopting mobile device management or MDM in telematics and overall fleet management.

MDM for Telematics Fleet Management Into the Picture

Whether logistics, urban mobility services, or last-mile deliveries, vehicle fleet telematics and management are indispensable to these businesses. Businesses need to be in control of their vehicle fleets, and MDM is set to play a mega role in telematics and fleet management. A vehicle fleet is similar to a mobile device fleet in many ways. Remember that the term mobility originated from the automobile industry itself. Today, enterprise mobility encompasses all mobile and IoT-enabled devices that are pivotal to digital transformation for all types of organizations.

We’re in a vast field to dig into. For this one, let’s cover three elements of fleet management solutions and telematics where mobile device management can have an immediate impact. Maybe we’ll cover more (autonomous, electric mobility, etc.) in our future blogs.

MDM for Connected Vehicles

Deloitte estimates that by 2025 there’ll be more than 470 million connected vehicles worldwide across highways. Each connected vehicle will generate approximately 25 GB of data every hour. It’s almost 282 TB of data per day from those 470 million vehicles. That’s a data deluge! If you think that’s a deluge, consider this. Many experts feel that this is a conservative estimation, as the number of sensors per vehicle is set to soar onward and upward. Managing and analyzing this massive amount of data across vehicles will be imperative to the success of connected vehicles.

telematics fleet management

And connectivity isn’t just Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) anymore. Here we go:

  • V2I: Vehicle-to-Infrastructure
  • V2G: Vehicle-to-Grid
  • V2N: Vehicle-to-Network
  • V2D: Vehicle-to-Device
  • V2C: Vehicle-to-Cloud
  • V2P: Vehicle-to-Pedestrian

In short, V2X, i.e., Vehicle-to-Everything! With such an assortment of connectivity types and oceans of data, one can only imagine the expansive role of MDM for connected vehicles.

There are a lot of futuristic opportunities—endless, to say the least, on how connected vehicles can leverage MDM and take vehicle telematics fleet management to unexplored heights. To begin with, an MDM solution can help push critical software-over-the-air (SOTA) updates to maintain vehicle health and OBD updates for driver safety. During crashes or emergencies, MDM software can detect airbag activation or other vitals from the managed vehicle dashboard to alert the fleet manager. The manager can then send SOS alerts to the concerned authorities to ensure immediate action, which can save lives.

Another huge scope of MDM-enabled telematics for fleet management in connected vehicles is also the greatest need of the hour for the automotive industry—cybersecurity. Statista predicts the automotive cybersecurity market to be worth almost USD 10 billion by 2030. Hackers of today are shrewd, and their hunting grounds aren’t just limited to PCs or smartphones.

When hackers get unauthorized access to vehicle dashboards or vehicle-mounted telematics devices, they can wreak havoc. Door lock, engine start/shutdown, alarm disabling, password reset, location access, identity and data theft, and traction control misuse are some of the severe impacts when automotive cybersecurity is compromised. Just contemplate the extent of irreversible damage the bad actors can cause when they hack into a vehicle fleet. It could bring an entire telematics control system to its knees.

MDM can therefore play a key role in blunting vehicle security threats. An MDM solution can regularly update the vehicle OS to fix unpatched vulnerabilities. Fleet IT heads can also enforce strong passcode policies for accessing vehicle dashboard controls, including multifactor authentication (MFA) and fast identity online (FIDO). Automated compliance checks is another MDM feature that can safeguard vehicles and telematics devices against automotive cybersecurity risks. The feature ensures vehicles remain compliant with security or road authority regulations.

MDM for Shared Mobility

While the shared mobility concept dates to the 1940s in Switzerland, the 1960s saw shared micromobility in the form of bicycles. In the last couple of decades, shared mobility has exploded despite taking a major hit during the pandemic. Uber and Lyft have been game-changers in this space. Ride-hailing or e-hailing services are now part of the everyday lives of commuters. Since 2010, investments in shared mobility companies have crossed USD 100 billion.

Shared mobility companies’ primary assets are their vehicle fleets and drivers. Mobile phones of drivers must be monitored and managed to optimize every trip regarding time, effort, and costs. Often, the time factor can be contentious for governing bodies and shared mobility providers. It’s because drivers can rush between trips to complete them on time. Thus, they may resort to high speeds and rash driving, risking pedestrian and passenger lives.

MDM will therefore hold a critical place in shared mobility through the speed-based app-access feature. Sysadmins can leverage telematics for fleet management via an MDM console to block access to all or selected apps on driver phones if they exceed a predefined speed limit. In the future, this feature might extend to in-vehicle OS apps as well. Hence, if drivers exceed a set speed limit, their mobile phones and vehicle dashboard will be rendered inoperable—slowing down is the only way out. An absolute essential to address road safety concerns over the worldwide growth of shared mobility.

MDM for Truck Platooning

Trucks are the backbone of many e-commerce and logistics organizations and hold a major position in the growth of the transportation sector of a country. Truck platooning involves moving two or more trucks in close succession through electronic coupling. The first truck is the platoon leader and guides the rest of the trucks throughout the journey in terms of speeds, brakes, turns, and halts. Truck platooning simplifies vehicle fleet management and offers better telematics control.

telematics for fleet management

Since truck platooning involves a series of heavy commercial vehicles (HCVs), it covers a large road area. Consequently, the effectiveness of truck platooning is all about real-time location awareness and route optimization. MDM zips into the picture again!

Telematics already incorporates GPS-based location tracking. But with MDM software, it’s possible to enable geofences for truck platoons. Platoon managers or telematics control teams can easily track the movement of trucks and keep a close eye on their halts, stoppages, etc, based on the associated geofence. Whenever there’s a deviation from the set geofence, managers can reach out to the platoon leader in no time to identify the reason—traffic congestion, mishap, unstable truck vitals, etc.

Apart from this, mobile phones or electronic logging devices (ELDs) of platoon drivers can be locked to a single-app kiosk mode using an MDM solution. This helps keep the drivers focused and productive, as they can’t access other undesired apps that can cause distractions.  

Truck platooning is the next wave of efficient logistics and transportation, and fleet managers can leverage the best of fleet telematics in tandem with an MDM solution. That could well form the crux of highly effective truck platooning of the future.

Last Words

Organizations and businesses for whom vehicle fleet telematics and management are must-haves should be swift enough to embrace MDM. With 5G set to make inroads in telecom and V2X, waiting for things to happen isn’t a good idea in the automotive world. Automotive is a fast, hectic, and hyperconnected world, and missing the MDM bus can leave you playing catch-up with your competitors forever when they don’t miss the MDM bus. 

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Abhinandan is a Senior Content Editor at Scalefusion who is an enthusiast of all things tech and loves culinary and musical expeditions. With more than a decade of experience, he believes in delivering consummate, insightful content to readers.  
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