The current lockdown is leading to a rapid expansion in the digitisation of fleet services, says the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP).

Co-chair Paul Hollick explained that the trend could be seen right across the spectrum of the industry, from service providers to how employers communicated with drivers.

He said: “Much of this trend has been prompted by the sudden and widespread switch to home working that has been caused by lockdown. Processes that were perhaps paper or telephone powered because people all worked in the same office are now being digitised.

“At the most basic level, this might be something as simple as how you communicate with drivers who are now scattered across a wide geographical area but, as an extension of that thinking, it could be that you have also adopted an app for completing and auditing walkaround safety checks.

“Similar things are happening with suppliers. For example, speed awareness companies are starting to offer virtual courses, and the call centre you deal with is perhaps now operating 100% remotely because the provider is unable to utilise its off-shore operations while it is under lockdown.

“Some of this is being driven by necessity – lockdown conditions mean that new methods are needed to carry out essential tasks – but there also appears to have been an acceleration in development of some sophisticated solutions being brought to market quickly because now is a moment where the extra efficiencies or benefits they bring might make a real difference.”

Paul said that he expected lockdown conditions to persist for some time and that it could lead to further useful and interesting innovations in fleet.

“It seems unlikely that lockdown conditions will end for a while and even then, there is certain to be a relatively slow return to something that might be considered normality, so the forces driving this process of digitisation are likely to persist for a long while yet.”

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