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Harnessing Your Business Data with a Map

There was a very good article on from eMarketer this month about the difficulties for online retailers in accessing, sharing and analysing information about their business. This is something we have found relates to all business, not just online. Business is all about numbers and understanding what your customers want and when. It doesn’t matter if you are a bricks and mortar retailer like the very successful Briscoes, a supermarket chain selling high volume for low margin or a company with a field sales or service workforce. Success comes down to being able to access quality information.

In retail the key information tends to be about stockturn, aged stock, shelf space, gross profit by product and category and so on. Retailers and department heads will have standard exception reports that arrive on their desks, daily, weekly and monthly and they will make their buying and promotional decisions based on these reports.

As per the table, research shows that often data is used for the key purposes of business as usual, but often it is only available to a few people and there is very little use made of information about who the customers are, where they come from, the context in which they do their shopping and much more.

GeoSmart’s BIonaMAP is a tool that can allow companies to visualise more information in a way that allows them to look strategically at location based information about their business. It might be a retail chain deciding where to place their next store, a loyalty program that wants to understand their customer demographics or a sales or divisional manager wanting to create fair and manageable sales territories.

By combining information from the Point of Sale system or the financials with a map, it becomes possible to cut through the clutter and see the big picture. BIonaMAP is a SaaS (Software as a Service) application. What that effectively means is that all you need in order to use it is a web browser and an Internet connection. You don’t need to install any software.

Now you can share information with whoever needs it, management,sales and marketing, business partners and suppliers. It might be about where your customers live or work, which ones use one of your products but not another. It might be customers within a certain distance from a store or using demographics to decide where best to place your next store. The potential is limited by your imagination and currently to within Australia and New Zealand. Effectively anything that has a location element to it and where data can be exported as a CSV file from your financials, CRM or other application can be interrogated within BIonaMAP.

Do you suffer from death by spreadsheet or wish you could see the big picture, large corporate, franchise or SME, we would like to talk to you about how to harness your business data and increase your productivity and profit.

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May 23, 2012 Posted by | Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, geosmart, GIS, Loyalty Card, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, Retail, Retail Profit, SaaS, sales territory, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Whose territory does a new prospect belong to?

Does this sound familiar to you? We talk to companies all the time who have problems with who to allocate a new customer or prospect to when they ring the sales or franchise company or call centre. Sales territories have always been a bit of a problem to deal with, but this will no longer be a problem for people who use GeoSmart’s new BIonaMAP business intelligence SaaS (Software as a Service) application.

Old school BAU (Business As Usual) is still the way most sales and service companies work. They pin a map on the wall, draw the territory on it with a sharpie pen and write the name on the map. There are always arguments over whether a territory includes both sides of the road, where the suburb boundaries are and don’t even start about what happens when you want to modify a territory.

Queen Street

If the call centre or people taking the calls don’t have access to the map when new customers ring, there can be major time wasting and potential for problems ensuring that the right person is dealing with the client quickly and professionally in order to secure new business. There are also issues over making sure the address is correct. There are a dozen Queen Streets in Auckland and we have heard plenty of stories about people driving up and down a road in the wrong suburb looking for a client they are meant to be meeting with. Then there are vanity suburbs like the person on Remuera Road who say they are in Remuera, but they are actually in Newmarket and knowing which numbers of the street belong in which territory. It is a problem that has been around for years.

This problem goes away with BIonaMAP and there are a number of ways that we can deal with it. Some companies are simply going to use a query on the BIonaMAP home page which effectively allows you to start entering the address, with an autocompleter allowing you to select from a drop down menu to get the right one. Some companies are going to integrate this function right into their accounting software, CRM or other business database application, which means that the full correct address with Post Code and correct suburb as well as the coordinates are recorded into the right fields.

What makes this different? Database applications on their own can deal with suburbs or post codes, but typically can not deal with spatial queries, i.e. in what territory or polygon does this belong to? The answer effectively will be one of the following:

  • It belongs in Territory X.
  • It appears in Territory X and overlapping Territory Y (e.g. a sales and a service territory)
  • It doesn’t appear in any territory

If this is an issue that you have to grapple with in your business, why not contact us and ask us how BIonaMAP can help you?

BIonaMAP is available for New Zealand and Australia and has a host of location based business analytics capability. It is Software as a Service which means no software installation and it can be accessed by using a web browser. We also welcome inquiries from sales, service, franchise and other business consultants, resellers and systems integrators.

May 1, 2012 Posted by | Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, Distribution, geosmart, GIS, map tools, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, SaaS, Sales, sales territory, systems integrator, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ageing of the workforce in freight and distribution

Baby boomers are a major part of our workforce today and play a very important part in the freight and distribution industry. I’m told that the average age of a truck driver in New Zealand today is 49. This presents positives and negatives.

The maturity and experience of these drivers makes them very valuable. They know the road, they know their vehicles and routes and get the job done. They are largely professional drivers, many of whom own their own vehicles. Many were able to do that by borrowing against their homes and the average freight company as we have discussed in previous blogs is 0-5 trucks.These operators tend to be very good at their job, but not well versed when it comes to technology. Applications to help them improve efficiencies in their work need to be very user friendly. That is something that GeoSmart puts a lot of energy to.

The flip side is that not a lot of people are rushing to become truck drivers. Many companies don’t really want them until they reach around 24-25 and have burnt out the lead foot testosterone which could be a disaster in a big half a million dollar rig. By that time, a lot of the working stock that might have gone into truck driving have chosen other career paths, or have moved to other shores such as the mines in Australia where they can earn 3 times what they can get paid in New Zealand. We can hope that they will come back to New Zealand with those savings and experience and use them to invest in their driving career back here. These people are of course extremely tech savvy and will expect to have access to applications and services such as Real Time Traffic, Route Optimisation, Car Navigation, Fleet Management and Business Intelligence.

Car navigation with real time traffic

Keeping these ageing drivers healthy and productive is a sustainability policy in itself. Providing them with tools starting with car navigation with real time traffic is a good start. It’s easy to use and whist these people may know the roads like the backs of their hands, they don’t know that there is an accident or traffic congestion that is going to stop them from getting where they are going. They also don’t necessarily know alternate routes they could be using or what the traffic conditions are there. It could be driving out of the frying pan into the fire. A device that tells them there is a 35 minute delay on their current route, but an alternate route will only have a 10 minute delay could be gold for these people. If you are looking at one of these, make sure it provides coverage for the are they are driving in and has the very latest map data as there have been many changes in New Zealand roads over the last year. GeoSmart produces new map updates every 3 months.

February 28, 2012 Posted by | AA Traffic, Auckland, Business Tools, car navigation, Distribution, driving, Freight, geosmart, new zealand, new zealand maps, Oil Price, real time traffic, route optimisation, Route2GO, territory management, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sustainability Generates Profit in the Transport Industry in New Zealand

This month I had the pleasure of presenting to the New Zealand Freight Summit at Auckland University to a diverse group of people from all facets of the transport industry. There were a number of common threads and one of them was sustainability. This is a word that is bandied around a lot, together with concepts like carbon emission trading and taxes, but I wonder how seriously a lot of companies are taking it.

One motivator is compliance. Government departments and many corporates today have KPI’s which require that they do business with companies who have sustainability policies and practices. We have responded to a number of tenders recently which have asked us to specify what sustainability practices we have put in place.

I have read many articles that say that companies which have sustainability practices are more profitable than those that don’t. Obviously the above is one good reason, effectively there are contracts they won’t win simply based on the policy.

There are of course other good reasons that also hit the bottom line. The most obvious one is the rising price of oil. If you use tools such as Route Optimisation and Business Intelligence, you can potentially do more work whilst driving shorter times and distance. That means reduced running costs, reduced maintenance costs, saved time which potentially means being able to do more work in the same amount of time and bottom line increase in profit. Whether your fleet is one vehicle or hundreds, there are savings to be made and they are easy to achieve.

Wellington Traffic 28 February 2012 1:15PM

I really enjoyed showing people AA Traffic by GeoSmart. Many of the delegates were not aware that we have real time traffic congestion information covering virtually all arterial roads and highways throughout New Zealand and Australia. There will be some announcements about this in the very near future. If you are a transport operator, how would you like to be able to see exactly where the congestion is in real time and on the same map, see your vehicle fleet?

Does traffic congestion cost your company by not letting your vehicles get where they want to be on time? Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a birds eye of what was going on in real time 24/7? What would that mean to your business? We can help you with that.

Utilising technologies like this can help your company to focus on reducing overheads when the economy is tight and allows you to tell the market that you have sustainability practices, not just policies. Of course in doing so, you are actually taking practical steps to reduce your company’s carbon footprint and doing something good for your country and the planet.

Want to know more about how you can use these technologies in your business? We’d love to talk with you. Contact us today.

February 28, 2012 Posted by | Auckland, Australia Maps, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, carbon footprint, Delivery, Distribution, driving, Freight, geosmart, new zealand maps, Oil Price, petrol, real time traffic, route optimisation, territory management, Traffic, university | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Route Optimisation Is Simple and Accessible

I’ve blogged about route optimisation many times recently. One recent blog talked about Fleet Management, our new BIonaMAP application and some other wonderful concepts, as ideas on how to save your business money and time and thereby increasing productivity and productivity.

I would like to break this down a little bit because there is a misconception out there that all of this technology requires spending lots of money and installing expensive equipment in your company vehicles. Let me break it down for you. There are some wonderful solutions out there, many of which are offered by our valued partners and they all have a purpose and fulfil business needs. Some business problems are complex and require complex solutions and some are simple and provide very quick return on investment.

So here is a simple problem. You have one or more vehicles which need to go out on the road and do several jobs. They may be regular runs, or they may be different each day. Let’s make it even simpler. Let’s break it down to one vehicle. You may have lots of vehicles, but let’s just look at one of them.

Here we have a merchandiser, who has to visit a number of supermarkets. One person has to visit 9 grocery stores, checking their stocks, managing the shelf placement, demonstrating new products, taking orders. As do many field sales people in New Zealand and Australia, their territory comprises of urban calls and calls out in the country and they spend a lot of their time driving.

The problem is that you can only fit so much time in a working day. You can have a pretty good idea of what order to do the jobs in, probably the order you always do them in. The other problem is that the price of petrol is going up, prices are coming down and your budget is going up. You need to get smarter.

Our Route2GO Lite application is a simple web service. There is no software to be installed, no set up fees and as Software as a Service you only pay for what you use. In this case person, who is a great sales person, spent 28 1/2 hours in the car, dead  time between calls in order to make those essential visits. Route2GO worked out how she could do the same visits but spending only 22 hours in the car. Now she can either fit in more calls in the same amount of time or spend more time with each client enhancing the relationship, doing product knowledge training with their staff and increasing the average sales she generates from those clients, which reduces the pressure on her and her sales manager to get the results the company needs.

We also cut over 400km in driving distance from this sales trip. At even $1 per km that’s a lot of money going back to the bottom line.

So what do you need in order to achieve a result like this? A PC with a web browser. An account with GeoSmart and a little time. For this run which included 9 clients and returning to base with a pile of orders, the total cost to GeoSmart would have been $6.25. No hidden surprises, that’s it. This includes the fee for geocoding (generating coordinates for calculating the route) and the optimisation from the office, to the 9 stores and back to the office. Oh and the cost of a piece of paper if you want to print off the above map and route.

It really is that simple. If you want to know more, why not contact us? We’ll even do a couple of runs for you for free, preferably ones you have already done previously so you can get a genuine comparison as to whether it will work for you. This was a dramatic example, in some cases it might only save you a little, but if we could help you visit one or two more customers in a trip without increasing your fixed overheads, every trip, hat would that add up to over a year?

We have more information about route optimisation in our blogs, so why not have a scroll through and see if you can find an example that’s relevant to your business. In an upcoming blog I will explain in simple terms what route optimisation actually is and why we can do it better than you can drawing pictures on a map. The key point of this exercise is that you can achieve dramatic results without putting in any money upfront and without having to buy any technology you don’t already have. Route2GO is available for New Zealand and Australia.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Auckland, Australia, Australia Maps, Business Tools, Distribution, driving, Freight, geosmart, location based services, Mapping Applications, new zealand, new zealand maps, Retail, route optimisation, Route2GO, SaaS, Sales, sales territory, territory management | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Petrol Will Keep Going Up in Cost

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that petrol and diesel could well hit the highest prices ever this year. This is likely to have a significant impact in New Zealand and Australia where we rely on other countries to provide our fuel. Irrespective of the state of our economies, we are relatively low in the rungs of priority if supplies become short worldwide. Obviously oil demand is increasing globally, irrespective of international politics and our exchange rates. The following graph shows the trend just over the last 3 months.

The implications are obvious. If you have a fleet of vehicles on the road, your running costs are going to increase and you have very little control over what you are going to pay for fuel.

Using technologies such as Fleet Management from our partners, you will have the ability to manage some costs. This includes:

  • Monitoring driver behaviour such as harsh acceleration, speeding and other activities such as engine idling time where reports can identify drivers who may benefit from education on the impact of these activities to your costs.
  • Monitoring the use of the vehicles, eg personal use or order of use.

You might look at operational improvements such as whether it is more economical for the driver to start from home, closer to their first jobs in the morning as opposed to leaving the vehicle at the depot. You might want to focus more on load management, are you sending trucks out with a load but bringing them back empty? You might want to look at whether there are other jobs in the vicinity of the vehicle that could be completed without the vehicle coming back to base and going out again.

GeoSmart has a number of tools that can help you with these considerations. For example Route Optimisation with Route2GO can help you eliminate the guesswork of what order jobs should be done in. If someone is going out and doing one or 2 stops and going back, that’s one thing, but if a vehicle is making several stops on a trip, it is unlikely that many people have the ability to work out the best order to do the jobs in.

Route optimisation takes into consideration every possible sequence of all the stops on your trip, with an underlying knowledge of turn restrictions (one way streets, no left turns), road class (speed zones, a shortest route might include many compulsory stops trying to cross busy main roads and driving slightly farther might not only speed up the trip but by not stopping and starting through the gears, will consume less fuel) and other considerations. The computer has no emotions, it just solves a technical problem and provides you with a result that will tell you the best order in which to do the work, complete with expected driving distance and time. This can produce a run or job sheet that can also give you an idea, based of your knowledge of expected time on site, as to how many jobs may be completed in one day.

Business Intelligence is a whole new story. Imagine being able to see all your clients on a map, run queries and reports based on any information you have in your database or work management application. How would you like to be able to manage run territories, understand profitable clients, see where upcoming jobs and priorities are, without having to install any software? All you need is a web browser and an internet connection. A picture speaks a thousand words and being able to visualise your business on a map can shed a light on what is going on in your business in a way that is often very difficult to get from spreadsheets and tables. GeoSmart’s new BIonaMAP Business Intelligence on a Map can help you put the pieces together and show you what your business looks like.

We can help you keep your fuel costs under control with practical web based tools that will provide you with the information you need by visualising and viewing your business operations on a map. Information is power.

These solutions support all of Australia and New Zealand so if that is where you are, why not contact us to find out how we can help?

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Australia, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Delivery, Distribution, Fleet Management, Freight, geosmart, new zealand, Oil Price, petrol, route optimisation, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

Using Location in Loyalty Cards

Loyalty cards haven’t fundamentally changed the way they do business for many years. There are the fans and the people who actively look for deals, but most of the people we have spoken to recently have said that the time they realise there is an opportunity is when they are at the checkout and the cashier asks if they have their Fly Buys or whatever card. This obviously is not generating increased sales or revenue.

There are huge opportunities for loyalty cards to exploit location with the large number of people now using Smartphones fitted with GPS. Effectively a Smartphone application can therefore identify when a card holder is near a store or participating retailer and can potentially be offered a deal using push technology. We are hugely spoiled for choice these days as retailers flock near each other to try to win your business. For example, if you go to AA Maps and do a search for ‘Hardware Albany’ you will come up with 48 results! That’s a huge range of options in one area within around a 5km radius.

Albany Homes Owner Occupied 70% or Over

A large number of these retailers spend a lot of money on advertising in newspapers, magazines, letter box drops, eDm’s and much more. Many of them are involved in loyalty card programs which provide additional opportunities for targeted marketing. These are all very expensive media and the approach uses often sophisticated targetting using demographics tools, such as GeoSmart’s BIonaMap discussed in a number of our blogs such as this one using demographics for a lawn mowing franchise. By understanding what your target market is, you can identify the best place to locate your store and which areas are best for letter box marketing. Of course success requires that your target market is open to buy and looking for your product.

If a consumer is looking for a lawn mower and your mailer arrives in their letter box, there is the potential that they will visit your store, but how often do they buy lawn mowers and how often do they read your mail drop? The example illustrated here shows homes where the owner occupancy is 70% or greater, a perfect target for DIY sales using BIonaMAP from GeoSmart.

In coming blogs I will post examples of how a loyalty card smartphone application using GPS location could integrate with retail Point of Sale systems, inventory management and really understand what a customer is looking for, sending meaningful offers to consumers when they are looking for product and are in proximity. If you make things easy for customers and have a meaningful relationship with you, they will buy your products over your competitors products, but to effectively do that, you (your technology systems) really do need to understand who your customers are and what their needs and interests are. They want to give you their money and it isn’t necessarily about special pricing.

Where should you start? Probably by asking what your loyalty card company is doing about proximity based marketing and check ins (which we have discussed frequently on this blog). GeoSmart is keen to support local loyalty card companies and application developers and we are convinced that there are huge opportunities to really bring in serious retail profits and the opportunity to develop genuine loyalty relationships. Who wants an unfair advantage? If that’s you, why not contact us?

Feel free to ask questions here or to leave a comment. Bookmark this page for upcoming blogs on how a loyalty card company can use this technology to help their partners win more business.

September 19, 2011 Posted by | Business Analytics, Check Ins, geosmart, gps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, Retail, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a 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

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