Q&A: Martin Port of BigChange
Martin Port, the UK founder of Masternaut, on the latest developments in the telematics market and his new venture, BigChange.
The UK market has grown significantly over the last 20 years. I would estimate 70% of commercial fleets have telematics installed. The UK market is the most advanced and competitive in the world.
What is the company’s main fleet offering?
BigChange provides an all-in-one system for transport, service & sales management called JobWatch. The JobWatch system helps companies plan, manage, schedule and track their mobile workforce. It works out of the box with little or no configuration required.
The system essentially offers three systems in one: a rich web-based back office app features Fleet & Resource Management, Job Scheduling, CRM & Financial, Health & Safety Compliance, Alerting and Mapping. The JobWatch Mobile App works on any Android phone or tablet supplied and, supported by BigChange, the app helps get rid of all the paper and manual processes.
How has your experience at Masternaut helped in launching BigChange?
At Masternaut we offered three systems that worked mostly independently and had a light integration between the three. These were Masternaut Vehicle Tracking, ThreeX mobile software and Microsoft CRM for the back office. The customer also purchased separate handheld computer hardware.
Essentially the systems were complex and expensive to maintain and implementation involved traditional professional services at an extra cost. While I owned Masternaut I always put a great emphasis on customer service and that was a key part of the success until I sold the company in 2011 – I never lost a customer while I owned the company.
When I sold Masternaut finally in 2011, I decided I wanted to research the market for a year. I visited over 70 telematics companies across Europe and what I realised is you could link together all the elements and build a system from the ground up, creating one system called JobWatch.
How is the UK fleet telematics market evolving?
The UK market has grown significantly over the last 20 years. I would estimate 70% of commercial fleets have telematics installed. The UK market is the most advanced and competitive in the world. The real game changer to the volume growth has been high fuel costs, accidents and the sharp reduction in hardware costs including a reduction in the cost of data. I would estimate prices have dropped by £30 a month per vehicle from £45 a month in the late 90’s to £15 a month per vehicle today. The installation cost is now more expensive than the manufacturing cost of the hardware.
Telematics is now a mature market in the UK. The real opportunity is next-generation systems like JobWatch. You can buy the complete JobWatch system including vehicle tracking and the tablet computer for £49.95 per month, which shows you the enormous amount of value that can be gained from a small monthly cost.
How can fleets overcome issues involved with ‘data overload’ and legal issues of implementing telematics?
Companies now want integration of GPS data with operational activity. Organisations need to make sense of the data and understand how improvements can be made so managers, drivers and engineers that operate in the field can boost service, safety and growth.
Big Data reporting that compares the optimised plan with actual workforce activity can create powerful financial benefits. But leaders have to demand managers to present the data on weekly, monthly and quarterly bases, linked to sales activity and costs to make the most of the information. Only by continually improving and identifying the opportunities can all the benefits sold by telematics companies be achieved. That is exactly what JobWatch delivers and when you have much more of a holistic focus then the whole idea of ‘Big Brother’ disappears.