The emergence of TomTom Telematics as a true platform-as-a-service provider is big news for field service companies. In Part Two of our report from the company's Developers Conference, we ask whether it means evolution or revolution for the telematics sector in general.
In Part One of this report from TomTom Telematics' Developers Conference, we heard how the combination of open-architecture hardware and the launch of the its App Store is transforming the telematics giant into a true Platform-as-a-Service provider and one-stop shop for mobile workforce management
Here, we take a deeper look at the potential impact the development could have on the telematics market. Indeed, in the excitement of the day there was talk of revolution as well as evolution. Would TomTom becoming an all encompassing platform for telematics, change the way we build our telematics solutions in the not too distant future? What will be its role in the emergence of the connected vehicle?
“We want to make it as easy as iTunes or the Salesforce app exchange” claimed George De Boer, International Alliance Manager at TomTom Telematics. “You just go to your appstore, you download your software and you install it”
“As easy as consumers are finding it to install an app we want to make telematics as easy for them as well” he added.
Indeed, it is an interesting and attractive proposition: one that could mean each company could essentially cherry pick the right apps that are best suited to their organisation and then build a bespoke telematics solution that meets their exact requirements.
One of the developers that has opted to build an app for the TomTom platform is Magenta Technologies, whose Maxoptra tool provides companies with a dynamic scheduling engine, a key tool for many large field service companies. Alexei Badjanov, Head of Development for Magenta believes this new approach to building a telematics solution is absolutley the future.
“The platform is the key” Badjanov comments “There is a wide number of telematics providers in the world but the one that has the most applications will be the leader”
Indeed this is very true; in one sense TomTom have not broken new ground. Other telematics providers such as Telogis and Trimble have both developed something akin to a telematics based platform some time ago,. However, unlike TomTom, they opted to focus more on developing their own apps within an ecosystem as opposed to the open architecture approach taken by the Dutch firm.
Of course whilst TomTom’s move to position themselves as a central hub upon which to build a telematics solution is both a clever and forward looking one, there is a strong argument that it was forced upon them, as with the onset of the connected vehicle they faced a choice of evolve or die.
However, where as the imminent arrival of connected vehicles would once have possibly meant ringing the death bells for TomTom, now the connected vehicle brings with it opportunity for both the telematics provider and their field service customers alike.
The connected vehicle
At a telematics conference the connected vehicle was bound to be a key topic that dominated conversations throughout the day, with the consensus being that the connected vehicle has finally made the transition from exciting potential to tangible reality.
“It’s already happening, It’s already here” commented Taco van der Leij, Global VP of Marketing for TomTom Telematics.
But just what does the connected vehicle actually mean to field service companies? Is it not just a case of the same telematics, just now being fitted as standard by the vehicle OEMs? In fact Van der Leij thinks the impact of the connected fleet will be far wider. “What you will see is the number of applications in this industry will multiply, so you will get much bigger scope and different possibilities for field service companies to actually enhance their business.”
“Basically what you see with a normal business environment in the office, Cloud solutions are already there, driving more and more applications. With all commercial vehicles being connected we will see the same happening for mobile workers also”
De Boer also echoed his colleagues sentiments when the conversation turned to the connected car.
“I’m seeing even more possibilities” he says as we discuss some of the obvious benefits to workflows when having seamless connectivity between the vehicle and the office.
“The service engineer that goes to his customer and uses some of the spare parts in his van for example. If he uses the connection of a barcode scanner and our link.connect API, he can scan the spare parts and the warehouse can start preparing the box that he needs to have for the next day.” He explains before concluding “The connected vehicle is really all about further optimising the business process”
In fact this final summation acts well as headline for what the TomTom Developers Conference was all about: further optimising the business process.
But beyond that, it was a day when we saw TomTom evolve from a pure play telematics provider to fully fledged telematics platform and if the connected vehicle is going to change everything in the telematics industry, TomTom Telematics look set to be right there at the heart of the community continuing to drive change and innovation.