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How we are helping the future greening of New Zealand

A couple of statements by David J. LePoire drawn from his essay “Beyond (Conventional) Renewable Energy?” caught my eye this morning. He said that “If energy use had grown as fast as the economy, the United States would be using an estimated 60% more energy than it does now. We’ve improved energy use in buildings, electrical appliances, cars and industrial processes. These applications are often motivated by cost savings.” There are often stories about how companies who focus on sustainability in a concerted way will become more profitable as a result, but often there is little information on where the increased profitability will come from.

There has been a lot of discussion about how green New Zealand really is and which initiatives are going to help us go forward in the way I believe most Kiwis want toThe elections are close and the parties are all telling us what their policies are going to be.

Meanwhile there are many companies who are just working business as usual with an eye to a better future. GeoSmart is one of those companies. So what are we doing?

First, we have driven every road in New Zealand for many years, but in the last few years we have been driving with phenomenal technology put together in New Zealand by Kiwis, which allows us to map New Zealand roads to sub 1 metre accuracy even when there is GPS shadow or at times (not uncommon particularly in the South Island) where there is no GPS sugnal available at all for periods of time. Tests show that we tend to be accurate to around 15cm which is as good as I believe you can get without having surveyors and laser theodolites on the ground.

This in itself means that we are able to provide highly accurate data to users of our routing web services, such as AA Maps and mobile applications such as Rugby2GO. It means that people will not be sent up paper roads that don’t exist, confirms speed zones and intersection controls and other information that doesn’t always get provided to us by the authorities.

Quality routing means that people can get the best routing information to meet their needs. For example the shortest route is often not the fastest.

We also collect road inclinometer. That is the rate of incline on hills, of which we of course have many in New Zealand. Our car navigation clients are getting more involved in eco-routing which means you can choose the route which will consume the least fuel. That means that effectively, irrespective of what type of car you drive, you can save money while also helping to save our environment.

We are also collecting data about the camber or angle of the corners. Because of the volatile nature of our country with frequent earthquakes, floods and slips, geothermal activity, the condition of corners may change. When a corner changes and noone knows about it, this can be the cause of serious accidents, such as with large trucks and trailors who may be obeying the speed advisory signs, but the conditions have changed since they were set. We are working with sophisticated Fleet Management companies who are going to use this data, combined with their knowledge of their clients’ vehicle set ups, roll over specifications and load information to alert drivers that they may be going too fast for the conditions of the road. This can save insurance conmpanies millions of dollars, not to mention reducing the inconvenience of motorists having to deal with travel delays as the incidents are examined and detours put in place.

Another major area for us is real time traffic. You are probably aware that we built and maintain the AA Roadwatch website and and provide services including real time accident, incident and congestion data throughout New Zealand and Australia to major car navigation brands. AA Spokesperson Simon Lambourne was quoted in an article in the NZ Herald earlier this week that studies have shown that “when 10 per cent of drivers use real-time traffic information to avoid jams, journey times drop 5 per cent for everyone.” Find out more about AA Traffic by GeoSmart here.

Route optimisation is becoming more important. We have written a number of blogs on this topic and more and more companies are coming to us to use this service and variations of it. Essentially  if a person has a number of sites to stop at during a day’s work, our SaaS application Route2GO Lite geocodes and calculates the best order to make those visits in, to drive the least amount of time via the most efficient route. This results in increased productivity and reduced overheads. It is also sustainable. Are you able to tell your clients that your business uses technology to benefit the environment as well as the company’s bottom line and provide better service to boot?

Talk to us about how we can help you become more sustainable whilst increasing profit.

November 7, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, Australia, Business Tools, car navigation, carbon footprint, driving directions, geosmart, gps, Mapping Applications, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, route optimisation, Route2GO, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, SaaS, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adding Location To Loyalty Card Apps

There are obviously lots of different kinds of loyalty cards. I have somewhere between 10 and 20 cards ranging from Coffee Cards through to Airline Frequent Flyer Cards. I have so many I can’t carry them all in my wallet, which is unfortunate when I find myself in a position to use one. I do carry a Smartphone, so there are opportunities to carry apps. Many retail companies in New Zealand now have apps, mostly on iPhone and Android. They range from cafe’s and fast food companies to tourism and banks. Features include the ability to order food from a specific store, the ability to view the store on the map, make reservations and view points.

A lot of companies have had back on using Smartphone applications for loyalty programs on the basis that there are not enough people using them. At the last Social Media Club Auckland event one of the panel questions was what is the penetration of Smartphones in New Zealand. No one had an answer as the telco’s generally don’t want to share this competitive information. However in this month’s IT Brief there was a quote from Tony Baird of Vodafone saying that 66% of their mobile users now have Smartphones. That’s pretty high penetration and growing rapidly as is their data traffic which grew from 60TB in June last year to 135 TB in June this year. It would be reasonable to expect at least Telecom to be showing similar penetration.

So, in my last post I talked about a number of aspects of getting to know your customers. Given the statistics in the poll on my previous blog almost 70% of loyalty card holders do not specifically head to shop at a store where they have a loyalty card. In effect this says that the loyalty card in most cases is not attracting people to do business, or effectively be loyal to the retailer or group who invest a lot of time and money into the card systems in manufacture, distribution and all the other aspects of running a loyalty program.

What is missing? I believe that one aspect is not really understanding the customer. Let’s start simple. How do you get a loyalty card? Obviously it varies. Some cards like a coffee card are as simple as the retailer offering the card to a customer when they are in the store buying a coffee, the retailer invites them to start using a card, typically offering your 11th cup free. At the other end of the scale there are forms to fill out, which confidentially provides the company with significant information about the person. This may include:

  • Home address
  • Home and Mobile Phone numbers
  • Age
  • Household income
  • Interests
  • Family details e.g. single, married, children under or over a certain age
  • Occupation
  • Email address

In theory this enables the loyalty program to target information to the member and under strict Direct Marketing opt in guidelines, make offers to the members, which typically comes in the form of eDM’s and Direct Mail. The latter is a very expensive form of marketing as is normal advertising such as print, radio and TVC’s. For many industries and products this is tough business. How often do you buy a lawn mower, a TV or an iPhone? The marketing only works when you are open to buy. I recently purchased a new lawn mower, but it was the first one in over 10 years. If I had kept every lawn mower advertisement that arrived in my letter box trying to sell me one and looked at the creative, print and distribution costs, it might have been cheaper for them to give me a lawnmower. Of course all of this advertising is focussed on products that everyone is selling, there is very little focus on products that are unique. Everyone has a promotion on a printer, a TV, an iPhone which forces everyone to focus on price, heavy discounts and the consumer wins if they are looking for that product. Profits up the value chain are massively eroded through the competitive pricing and costs of marketing.

Data Mining and Business Intelligence are already used by some companies and very soon GeoSmart will be launching the much anticipated BIonaMAP we have discussed in many blogs in the past. This will allow companies to better understand their customers on the basis of the data provided, including the ability to view their customers and query their information in relation to the Department of Statistics mesh blocks and area units.

Canberra Income $100,000+

In this example we looked for   where the average household income in Canberra (yes we do Australia too) is equal to or greater than $100,000. If we were looking for loyalty members who had higher than average discretionary spending capability, this could be a very useful tool for target marketing. We could potentially make special offers by overlaying our loyalty card members in this SaaS (Software as a Service) application and then querying them from a combination of the information we have about them and the information the statistics department has about people in the area.

In the coming blogs I will get into more detail about what the implications are from the perspective of location, but like anything you need to start at the beginning and in many cases as I have outlined,  scatter gun marketing, throwing leaflets into letter boxes does not effectively target people who might change their behaviour in favour of your product or brand.

The key to loyalty is a relationship and this comes from engagement. You don’t engage well by putting something in someone’s letterbox. You engage by understanding who they are, what their needs are, when they are out and about and open to buy. As a retailer with a loyalty program you have huge amounts of information about your clients at your fingertips, which is untouched.

Here’s a simple example to finish this blog. Paper Plus not only supports Fly Buys, but they also have their own card called My Big Deal. They run promotions for people who use that card. Right now they have a sale on certain children’s books. If you buy the books using your loyalty card and they store that information, they now know (if they didn’t ask in their registration form) that you either have children or have a relationship with children, perhaps as a grandparent. So they know you buy children’s books. This is valuable information that you could take advantage of in your proximity based marketing application.

More on the location based aspect for apps is coming up, now that we have covered some basics. If this is of interest, please bookmark or subscribe. If you know of someone else who might be interested, why not send them a link? If you would like to discuss these concepts with us about your own business, please contact us.

September 20, 2011 Posted by | Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, Distribution, geosmart, GIS, iphone, location based services, Loyalty Card, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, Print Advertising, proximity based marketing, Radio Advertising, Retail, Retail Profit, SaaS, territory management | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sead Latest in IT Seminar – Mobile Technology

A couple of weeks ago our Sales & Marketing Manager, Luigi Cappel had the privilege of presenting to a group of ICT professionals at the Mercure Hotel hosted by Sead I.T. People. The presentation in the series of Sead Latest in IT Seminar was on Mobile Marketing.

Sead Presentation

The audience came from a wide range of industries and were encouraged to remember the passion that encouraged them to join the industry as innovators in their companies, showing them how to use technology to grow their companies, solving business problems, improving efficiencies and increasing productivity and profit.

Covering topics including the latest Gartner Hype Cycle predictions, Location and Proximity Based Marketing, Check In Marketing, Mobile Computing, QR Codes, Business Intelligence using maps and the hot topic of the use of personal devices in a corporate market, there was something in it for everyone. Case studies illustrated not only practical use of technology, but professional processes to ensure that projects were well designed for success.

The presentation outlined the ongoing chasm between people in the ICT profession and their colleagues when it came to understanding and use of new technologies, particularly mobile and location based. Luigi encouraged the audience ranging from consultants to CIO’s to consider how they can educate and encourage their companies to understand the new technologies and how they fit into their business frameworks. There are great opportunities for IT people to be welcomed back into the boardroom by working closely with the management team to show them how to implement and benefit from new technologies, safely and securely.

Luigi and the Sead Team at the Mercure

September 5, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Check Ins, Data Mining, facebook, foursquare, geosmart, GIS, ICT, iphone, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, new zealand, proximity based marketing, Retail Profit, ROI, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Location and Shopping – Tomorrow Becomes Today

This morning I was watching a podcast on Unterther.TV which was an interview with Ken Harlan of MobileFuse, a Mobile advertising network. Their core business is publishing ads on mobile applications and web pages, but the discussion that got my interest was about people using their own Smartphone devices to do their shopping. This piqued my interest because one of the areas of shopping in the future is about navigating the grocery store and shopping interests.

GeoSmart is often found at the leading edge of location based technology, working with partners to come up with new applications and helping build the future that one day we will take for granted.

Sky and Sainsbury’s Supermarkets have collaborated to put iPad mounts with chargers in supermarket trolleys. The story suggests you might like to watch sport news and other entertainment.

The idea sort of appeals to me, but I can hear my wife saying “Don’t You Dare!”

But there are more powerful opportunities and I’m sure where Sainsbury’s really want to head with a company like MobileFuse would go something like this:

1. A Sainsbury App that gives you access to their product list including using your Smartphone scanner as you consume product at home to generate your shopping list. When you are ready to go shopping, the app would navigate you to the nearest store to your current location or a selected location such as your home or other destination, so your frozen goods stay cold.

2. Having checked in, you could be notified of any friends or family that are also in the store, or in the neighbourhood, or not:)

3. The App gets to know the sort of things you like to buy and shows you ads of similar products that may be of interest. This could include showing you videos about the product as you are walking around the store, it might even share recipes for you.

4.  Where I get excited is that it could show you where to find all the products you want, in effect order the shopping list so that it lets you know which product to get next as you go down the aisle so you don’t miss anything. In a chain, location based mapping and indoor navigation information could be uploaded for any store in the country, so that anywhere you go, you don’t need to know the layout.

5. This brings in loyalty programs that recognise you and offers you deals based on products that meet your profile and would be of interest to you.

6. You scan your products into the basket in the same way as they have done in stores like Albert Hein in the Netherlands, but the difference is that you do it on your own device and probably also have contact-less payment at the check out.

This may sound futuristic but self scanning was a struggle to introduce not that long ago. I think in a few years time you might find yourself doing it. Hopefully we will have assisted in this.

August 31, 2011 Posted by | Business Tools, Check Ins, Distribution, driving directions, geosmart, Indoor Navigation, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, Retail, route optimisation, Sales, social networking, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More on Group Deals and Prescience

Seems like I was on the mark in my blog in July about the huge volume of one day type web sites and that people will quickly get sick and tired of the bombardment of deals. So many of us today are getting huge numbers of time wasting emails, offering us everything from holidays to lucky dip bags. A story in Ad Age Digital this morning says that the trend is now definitely heading downwards in the US.

Yelp, is cutting down its Yelp Deals staff in half as outlined by CNN today and Facebook announced this week that they are shutting down Facebook Deals after originally suggesting that they were going to make huge inroads into Groupon’s business.

Just to reiterate, the problem isn’t the deals. The shear number of sites offering daily deals and bombarding consumers is a fad and most, as I predicted will quietly disappear as they find there is too much competition and they can’t make a profit or reach critical mass for a harvest or sale. As I have already said, retailers aren’t making money from these deals (generalisation) and where they do use the deals to get people into their premises, they don’t seem to be coming back for a second visit once they have their deals.

I will shortly come back to the new strategy that has much more potential to generate positive cash flows for all concerned which is off course location or  proximity based marketing. There will of course be a spate of these and many of the same developers will be jumping on the bandwagon, but they will find that it is much harder than they think and they will struggle to get many retailers on board for reasons I have discussed previously.

All is not lost and proximity based marketing / check ins has huge potential. However it is something that takes an understanding of destination business, game theory, loyalty, what people actually need and want, knowledge about location based services and much more. Areas that we can help with. Get it right and this is a huge business opportunity for all, get it wrong and people will be turned off and it will take much longer to achieve the results that we are predicting.

August 30, 2011 Posted by | Business Tools, Check Ins, competition, Distribution, facebook, foursquare, geosmart, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, new zealand, new zealand maps, proximity based marketing, Retail, Retail Profit, Return On Delivery, ROI, Sales, software, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Retailers are not flocking to take advantage of free check in marketing services

I did some research looking for New Zealand business success stories with check in marketing. I really struggled to find any. I went and visited a number of businesses in retail and hospitality and most of them didn’t know what foursquare was. One gentleman in a cafe told me he knew about it, but was too busy to learn how to do it. I pointed out that it was really easy, but he said he really didn’t have time and then sat down to have a coffee with one of his customers. I understand on further research that this is how he keeps a loyal clientele which is great, but he could always find a student or someone else to do it for him.

I spoke to a number of people in retail that gave me a similar story. It seems, as is often the case that most managers are too busy working on their business to work in it. This is a trap in my humble opinion. It’s common knowledge that businesses like cafe’s and restaurants to name a couple, change hands about every 18 months, a classic bell curve that starts with ambitions and energy, hard work, great service and develops cash flow. Then they get into a pattern or flow of how they do business, stop innovating, perhaps stop having fun and start telling themselves how hard business is. When they started fresh, people enjoyed the new business, new products and faces and the passion flowing from the owner and staff.

The thing is, we have an amazing opportunity to capitalise on location here. Remember the old rule of successful retail “Location, Location, Location”? Well it isn’t enough to stay fresh these days. As consumers we are spoiled for choices and sometimes we need a push to either stay loyal, or to try something new. Location Based Marketing is as simple as going to foursquare and claiming your business. To be honest, claiming your business can be a little difficult in New Zealand from a validation perspective if you are in a non residential street (where NZ Post do not deliver mail) and I have tried to contact them about this, but you should persist.

The great thing with foursquare for now is that they provide you with lots of very easy ways to set up promotion. You really don’t even have to be marketing savvy, it’s all laid out for you. Go and have a look and check  out the Manager Tools. It is so easy. If you need more help, follow this blog and we will explain how to do it.

People are checking into your store and stores near you all the time, why not give them a reason to come into yours, unless you have more customers than you can deal with. The numbers of people using check in services is growing greatly.

Have a look at the bell curve above and imagine this is your business. How long have you been in business? Have a look at your financials, now see if you can plot them on the curve. Is business growing? Are you on the rise? Have you peaked, would you like to keep the rise going? If you are reading this, maybe you have made some time to work on your business, which is great. Know someone in business who could use a little help? Tell them about this blog. There is more information coming on how to do these things.

If you are already using check in services for your business, we would love you to leave a comment. If you are part of a chain or collaborative group and are not currently doing anything in this area, or and agency wanting ideas for your client, GeoSmart would love to help point you in the right direction. We don’t create loyalty applications, but we have business partners and clients who do. We also welcome questions.

I’ll leave you with a link to an article on BusinessDay News which suggests that Location Based Marketing could be worth US$6.2 Billion within a few years. Maybe there is something to it? Would you like a slice?

August 7, 2011 Posted by | Business Tools, Check Ins, competition, Distribution, geosmart, lbs, location based services, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, Retail Profit, Sales, social networking, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Check Ins

We were at the Auckland ICT meeting a couple of night’s ago and it was interesting to corroborate our experience in the field with associates that there is both a chasm between people in the ICT industry and even their own friends and family in retail and other bricks and mortar industry when it comes to use of social media and proximity based marketing.

A couple of us presented at the Mobile Marketing Forum last month and felt that we were preaching to the converted and disappointed that only 4 bricks and mortar companies attended the conference when they were potentially the ones with the most to gain from being there. Generally what we found was that businesses either didn’t have a clue what checking in means, or if they did, don’t make the time to understand and utilise what could be a much better tool for them than dumping stock on daily deal type sites.

So here is a tiny bit of Check In 101:

Fundamentally the concept of checking in is to use a mobile application on a smart phone that is location aware, such as Foursquare, to register that the user is at a particular location such as a landmark or a business / shop. The location is verified using GPS or GPS assisted technology in the mobile. There are gaming elements such as badges or points and often tangible rewards such as discounts. People that visit a particular location enough times gain the title of Mayor of that location.

What is interesting and most retail business operators aren’t aware of is that this takes place, whether or not they are personally involved, which means people are entering their businesses and creating marketing opportunities, but are not being engaged in this medium. Most applications allow people to leave comments or tips, make ‘friends’ who are also allowed to see their location and make recommendations which could be positive, but could also be very negative. This means that even if the proprietor can’t make time to use these tools to engage and attract business, they may be losing business without knowing it as well. A simple comment such as “The toilets are clean here:(” or “The line was so long, I went next door” could cost not only immediate business, but steer people away long into the future.

The applications typically have interfaces to social media applications such as Twitter and Facebook, so the comments, recommendations and otherwise are creating a digital footprint that can be difficult if not impossible to remove.

Recent statistics from Comscore this year suggest that around 16.7 million individual people in the USA checked in to locations using Foursquare and similar applications over the first 3 months. This represents around 7% of the total mobile population. Recent statistics in June 2011 suggest that the UK and Western Europe currently sits at around 5%. That is a lot of people. People just like them may be in the area and walking right past your business.

July 22, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Business Tools, Check Ins, Distribution, geosmart, gps, lbs, location based services, Mapping Applications, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, proximity based marketing, ROI, social networking, software, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Group Deals and Bricks and Mortar Business

The number of one day deal sites in New Zealand grows every day. There are dozens of them and many of them now have a separate site for each region with deals for experiences, dining, accommodation, attractions and activities. This is great for bargain seekers, but doesn’t necessarily do a lot for bricks and mortar businesses.

There are scenarios where they have value, for example if a business has very large volumes of aged stock that they need to quit. It can also be useful for new businesses to make customers aware they exist. They also come at a price. The more powerful the site, the more they charge with fees being anything up to 40% of the sale of each item.

If you want to attract new customers to your bricks and mortar store, then obviously you want a coupon or something that needs to be taken to the store for redemption. Even if you are quitting aged stock, there may be advantages in getting people into your store in the hope that they will purchase other products while they are there. There are also benefits to both the customer and the retailer in not having the time, packaging  and distribution costs in delivering product to the buyer. More on this in future blogs, looking at check in applications as opposed to group deals.

A study by Rice University found that  32% of businesses surveyed who used Groupon for promotions said they were unprofitable and 40% said they would not do it again. A major issue cited in the research was cannibalising existing business. Mashable quoted a statistic that less than 20% of people who purchased deals where they had to go to a store to redeem them, returned subsequently to buy full priced product.

So the question which I will come to in upcoming blogs is how to get people into your store at quiet times and more often. I believe the answer is in locations based services such as check ins and proximity based marketing. I welcome your experience or opinion on this.

July 21, 2011 Posted by | Business Tools, Check Ins, Delivery, Distribution, lbs, location based services, proximity based marketing, Retail Profit, ROI, Uncategorized, university | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Get Listed on New Zealand Car Navigation Systems

I noticed that over the weekend someone had located our blog by searching on Google with the query “How to get listed on Car navigation systems”. I’m glad you asked and equally glad you found us because the answer if very easy.

GeoSmart provides the mapping information and Points of Interest (places to go) for the major car navigation brands in New Zealand including Navman, TomTom, Garmin Asus, Metroview and more. In addition to this, we also provide data for lots of other services including cartography and web mapping. The most popular web site we provide data for is AA Maps, which has huge traffic both domestic and international due to the affiliation of the NZ Automobile Association with other motoring associations around the world, so many tourist coming to NZ plan their NZ travel on that site. There are many more of course and some of these are showcased on our home page.

We are also finding many new clients in the mobile space, developing applications for iPhone and Android. They also use Points of Interest, so if you list with us you are very likely, if relevant to find your details on those applications as well, again at no charge to you.

So lets keep this simple. All you need to do is go to either the GeoSmart home page and click on the link:

Or go to the AA Maps home page and click on the icon that looks like this:

Simply follow the instructions that follow, which will allow you to quickly and easily add your business to our database for free.

You will have the ability to accurately identify the location of your business and chose from a selection of categories that represent your business, which is frequently multiple categories. For example a restaurant may also be a cafe and a take away. We will then validate your listing to ensure that you are authorised to make the entry on our database. Your data will then quickly be added to our data which is then updated by our clients and partners including the major car nav brands.

You will also be given the option of a free dynamic map with pan and zoom tools that you can post on your website for free. If people want driving directions to your location they can enter their starting address and be guided via AA Maps with full printable turn by turn directions and maps and even be able to check the real time traffic conditions before they go. All we ask in return is that you log onto your page and ensure your data is up to date at least once a year.

What if you are a chain? No problem, as long as you are authorised to represent your business, you can add as many of your business locations as you wish. Hopefully as a chain, we already have your data, but you may have new branches that we haven’t been told about, or some may have moved location, so please check on the AA Maps website to confirm we have all your current info.

Now that you will be listed on car navigation and in other applications, you can let people know in person, on your website, newsletters and other material, how they can find you. We look forward to helping send business your way.

May 1, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Business Tools, car navigation, driving directions, Garmin Asus, geosmart, gps, iphone, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, Mobile maps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, Sales, satnav, software, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dealing with Increasing Oil Prices for your Company Vehicles

In this morning’s NZ Herald, senior AA Analyst Mark Stockdale was quoted By Mathew Dearnaley as saying that there may be further pressure on petrol prices this week. The article pointed out that only part of the oil price increase has been passed on to consumers and the tense situation in Libya and other parts of the Middle East mean that the barrel price of oil could continue to increase dramatically.

It is clear that we have now well and truly crossed the psychological barrier of $2 per litre of 91 Octane petrol in NZ and I would be surprised if we drop below it again even if Saudi increases their oil production as suggested. AA’s Mark Stockdale made some good suggestions on ways to save fuel, all of which made good sense, especially if you own your vehicle and are paying for the fuel yourself.

I’m not saying they don’t make sense for all vehicles, but if the cost comes from your own back pocket and we have now crossed the psychological $2 barrier companies are also going to feel the pain and need to look at ways of saving money on their vehicle running costs.

You will remember the story of how to cook a frog. In 1869 Friedrich Goltz demonstrated that if you put a frog into a pot of water and heated it very slowly, the frog would not attempt to escape. Why he was doing it was another story which you can read here. The anecdote is important because we haven’t fundamentally changed our driving habits. Many of us have lead feet and as lovers of driving and fast cars, users of air conditioning and other features, we waste a lot of fuel. Perhaps the new price increases will make us jump out of the boiling water and modify our driving behaviour.

Many companies have been driving smart for some time. For example, large commercial fleet companies have been running with Fleet Management solutions using GeoSmart Maps for years. Many get total ROI from being able to claim Road User Charge RUC Rebates, which is being able to prove when they are driving on private roads or property. That means that the added benefits are free. Fleet Management uses technology to monitor many aspects of driver behaviour with a view to being able to improve driver training. For example it can monitor aspects such as harsh acceleration and braking, idling time is another aspect that consumes fuel.

Car Navigation is another tool that has been under rated. But lets look at some facts. If it costs over one dollar per km (before the latest fuel price hikes) to drive a relatively small vehicle (not counting staff costs and other items), what does it cost to run commercial vehicles? Can you afford to pay people to drive in circles looking for their next stop?

A new feature in car navigation that we have blogged about before is AA Real Time Traffic. This is a service that provides real time information advising of accidents, incidents and real time congestion covering all of New Zealand. This service is available on AA Maps, AA Roadwatch and as well as TXT and Email Alerts. What is really exciting is that you can now get this information direct to you car navigation devices including selected models from brands including Navman, TomTom, Garmin Asus, and Pantera. This page shows how it works. If you consider how much time you have spent in congested traffic, wouldn’t it be great if you could be informed about incidents before you get stuck behind them. Note AA Traffic doesn’t just cover State Highways, it covers all arterials as well, so only really leaves out small residential streets. We are now discussing how to get this information into the Fleet Dispatch rooms of freight, distribution and service companies who are managing vehicle fleets and could better manage their operations if they can see their vehicles and the traffic incidents concurrently on the same map.

You may have noticed a number of references to the NZ Automobile Association. We are a wholly owned subsidiary of the NZAA and as such are very much involved in helping NZ motorists, consumer and business and the initiatives in this blog outline many of our activities in this space.

Route Optimisation is another tool that has suddenly gained popularity. GeoSmart has offered these services for around 5 years. In effect the concept is that if you have a number of vehicles, we can tell you what order they should do their stops in, in order to drive the least distance and time. This doesn’t just take the shortest route, it takes into consideration aspects such as which roads have the least number of stops, the speed zones, the angles of corners, turn restrictions and more. It is a complex and involved problem which we have automated into an application that can be run from a web browser on a pay as you go basis. We blogged about this last week when we first heard of the $2 jump.

We made the offer of a fee trial whereby we will use Route2GO for free over up to 5 previous runs to allow you to compare the route driven, with what our recommendations would be. Many of the results have been astounding with time improvements of between half an hour and 2 hours on a run, with significant savings in fuel and other overheads, as well as the ability to do more work in the same day without an increase in fixed overheads. That offer is still available and of course the payback is now significantly increased.

So, if you have company vehicles that are more than just commuters, you may like to contact us and have a chat about how we can help. You can email us for information or a flyer or contact me (Luigi Cappel) direct on 09 9668768. We would love to help you save money, increase productivity and profit and remain competitive in the marketplace. Many companies will be forced to increase their prices and this will of course impact on inflation. On the other hand companies who work smarter could keep their prices the same or in some cases even reduce them. Historically those companies have increased their market share and in some cases taken over weaker competitors who didn’t think smart.

There are a few choices. One of them is to suffer and complain, the better one might be to contact us and see how we or are partner companies can help you prosper despite the difficult times.

I like the saying that there are 3 types of people and businesses. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. Which are you?

March 6, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, Business Tools, car navigation, carbon footprint, Delivery, Distribution, driving, driving directions, Freight, Furniture Delivery, Garmin Asus, geosmart, gps, location based services, map tools, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, Oil Price, petrol, real time traffic, Return On Delivery, ROI, route optimisation, Route2GO, SaaS, satnav, software, territory management, tomtom, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment