Phil Skipper, head of strategy and business development, IoT, Vodafone Enterprise, talked to the editor of IoT Now Transport, Annie Turner, about his company’s strategy and ambitions for transport.
Annie Turner: How big a role does transport play in Vodafone’s IoT strategy – I’m particularly interested in the areas of autonomous/connected cars and fleet management & logistics?
Phil Skipper: Transportation definitely plays an important role in Vodafone’s IoT strategy. We already have our technology in more than 18 million vehicles and provide services for fleet management, stolen vehicle tracking, usage-based insurance, telematics and to enable infotainment services.
We work with major automotive manufactures, their importers, dealers and engage directly with the public via the after market. We believe the IoT can provide the platform to link different transport infrastructures together, to monitor and predict usage, to enable new mobility models like Car-as-a-Service and finally to help create automated, autonomous and shared forms of transport.
AT: Which applications do you think have the most potential and in what ways – for example, reducing cost or risk or enabling new business/operational models within which sectors?
PS: There are many possibilities and much potential but ultimately it will be determined by what the company is trying to achieve. We are already seeing significant returns being delivered in fleet management and asset tracking, improving workflow, lowering operating costs and optimising routing.
If we look at a bike-sharing business of the kind we see in many major cities now, connectivity is what enables customers to locate a bicycle and unlock it, and what allows the company to track usage and the routes taken by individual bicycles.
This is about technology underpinning the original business model of a new business, rather than an older business using technology to change itself, which is an entirely different, and you might say a much more complicated, proposition.
IoT will help not just the transport sector to evolve quickly, but will impact parallel sectors such as insurance. The advanced vehicle telematics supplied by Vodafone into both the car manufacturers and aftermarket allows the usage of the vehicle to be accurately tracked and the driver’s behaviour to be monitored.
This will eventually result in insurance charged by the mile,with the price representing individual risk, current demand and driving conditions, creating a new level of personalisation for the insurance industry and changing how transportation is experienced by consumers or offered by businesses.
AT: What do you think the biggest roadblocks to progress are and how do think they will be resolved? For example, fragmentation, lack of standards, customers not understanding the return on investment and so reluctant to invest?
PS: While it’s true that the data now available creates many new business opportunities, service fragmentation across the urban landscape and privacy concerns create barriers that have to be overcome. It is essential that a mechanism exists to exchange and monetise this data in a controlled and secure way.
As an established provider of secure data services at a massive scale, Vodafone sees the mobile operator as a key player in the neutral server ecosystem enabling fragmented processes to be reconnected and to facilitate the new data economy around transportation.
AT: What do you see as the single most exciting opportunity for IoT in transport?
PS: There are so many ways that IoT is going to impact transportation. I think that the most exciting opportunity IoT has is in helping to link things that have not been linked before to create truly intelligent transport services.
Imagine a future where bus and train schedules are integrated in real time, where pedestrians are communicating with cars and so avoiding accidents, streets where traffic signs can be changed in real time to optimise traffic flow and minimise congestion. Or cities where personal transportation such as cars and bikes are shared and used only when needed, helping to improve air quality and reduce congestion.
IoT will support a smart grid which can optimise access to power for the new generation of electric cars helping to improve energy distribution and availability.
The network and the network operators will play a more significant part in the future connected societies. As IoT connects these systems, the coming years will see the democratisation of transport as journeys become more flexible, individual and multi model, enabling travellers and operators to have greater choice and control over each and every journey.
Phil Skipper, head of strategy and business development, IoT, Vodafone Enterprise was interviewed by Annie Turner editor of IoT Now Transport