May 2015

Fleet Management News & Business Info | Commercial Carrier Journal

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Page 41 of 116

G overnments and private businesses use a variety of economic indicators to inform their opinions and decisions. But many of these indicators have a major shortcoming: They are lag- ging, meaning they show past results rather than predict future ones. They often use data at least a month old, as well as estimated values and qualita- tive measures such as business and consumer sentiment. By contrast, telematics systems provide fleets with real-time measur- able data on their business activities and performance. Could this same data also be used on a collective basis to create a near-real-time economic indicator? The answer is yes, according to a study from Fleetmatics, a provider of cloud-based workforce management and telematics software. Believe the data Commonly used business performance metrics such as mileage, number of vehicle stops and mileage per stop can be a highly credible indicator of national and regional economic health, the study found. For the study, Fleetmatics partnered with Dr. Stephen Fuller, university professor and director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University. The company provided access to technology 40 COMMERCIAL CARRIER JOURNAL | MAY 2015 near-real-time movements of about 552,000 residential and commercial service and delivery vehicles for more than 25,000 businesses. Fuller pulled this data from the cloud to develop a data set representative of service- based small business activities. Using regression analysis, he compared a data set of 10.7 billion telematics-gener- ated data points from more than 400,000 commercial vehicles to nearly four years of monthly retail sales data from Moody's and the U.S. Census Bureau dating back to January 2011. "What we found was an extremely high correlation between the retail data at both the national and metropolitan area levels," Fuller said. "I believe the ability to analyze real-time telematics data can now be considered an accurate data source on the small business flow of goods and services." What goes in The findings suggest that the performance of small businesses in the services indus- LAGGING SHORTCOMING: Many economic indicators show past results rather than predict future ones. REAL TIME: Telematics systems provide fleets with measurable data on business activities. ECONOMIC HEALTH: Commonly used metrics can be a credible indicator of business performance. MAKING THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENTS WORK FOR YOUR FLEET BY AARON HUFF Fleet performance is a leading indicator of economic health, study shows The telematics index The Fleetmatics study showed that retail sales are dependent on fleet activity, a leading economic indicator.

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