Exploring the future of connected vehicle technology and transportation industry trends with Geotab CEO Neil Cawse

Neil Cawse

Neil Cawse, Founder and CEO of Geotab

Connected transportation holds the promise for a safer and more sustainable future, and IoT companies all over the world are striving to leverage technology to achieve this goal as we inch closer to the digital decade where ‘smart’ is the new normal. One such global leader and a key player making significant strides in this industry, is Geotab. An international leader in IoT and connected transportation, Geotab has been named the number one commercial telematics provider worldwide by ABI Research two years in a row in 2019 and 2020.

Geotab empowers businesses by providing them with actionable insights to help better manage fleets and make data-driven decisions. Geotab’s unique open platform solution enables businesses to integrate Geotab data into any system regardless of business size or operational needs, enabling the development of an extensive ecosystem of partners and promoting a culture of collaboration and cooperation.

In an interview with e27, Neil Cawse, Founder and CEO of Geotab shares more about the inception of the company, the climb to the top and more.

Leveraging technology to solve business problems

With a background in electrical engineering, Neil has a keen passion for software and technology. As such, he is always on the lookout for new opportunities for solving business problems by leveraging technology. He shared that back in the 90s, no one could have imagined that GPS would one day be made available to anyone other than the military. “We identified the business need for this newly available technology, but our first obstacle was determining how we could leverage it without compromising security. To this day, security is a top priority and remains of utmost importance to Geotab.

While people were at first resistant to the possibilities of GPS technology, with the correct security provisions,   eventually it became an undeniable solution. “After extensive market research, we realised that being able to monitor fleets would solve major problems in the transportation and logistics industries, and beyond,” he said.

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Neil shared that he started the company back in 2000 because he and his partners saw a gap in the market. He realised that fleet managers and business owners lacked the tools they needed to monitor and improve driver safety and efficiency and that there was a tremendous opportunity for a user-friendly technology solution for fleet management. Today, Geotab has over 2.5 connected vehicles leveraging its solution and nearly a dozen offices throughout North America, Europe, Latin America and the Asia Pacific.

Highlighting the main challenges in this journey so far, Neil shared that as a company that collects over 1 billion points of data each day, he feels an incredible responsibility to ensure this data is protected and used to make the world a better place. “At Geotab, we have adopted a “security-first” principle and we constantly review, evolve and improve our security mechanisms and processes to protect our customers and partners,” he added.

Key gaps that Geotab helps address in the transportation industry across the world

Elaborating on the key gaps or challenges that Geotab’s technology helps address, Neil explains that people are the most expensive resource: ensuring that people are at the right place at the right time is important for all businesses, and this is where connected fleet management can help. The second element is safety: human lives matter, and being able to locate and monitor drivers helps ensure their safety.

The third factor is being able to ensure that drivers are abiding by compliance guidelines. For example, most companies have set a duration for which vehicles are running on the road before the driver rests. Using Geotab technology, it is easy to keep track, helping fleets meet regulations and keeping drivers safe.

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Last but not the least, studies have suggested that sustainability is going to be at the heart of any business in a post-pandemic world. The transportation sector is not an exception to this trend. Most companies, including Geotab, now have mandates that require a more sustainable business model. To achieve this, many companies are setting carbon emission goals that align with science-based targets. It is Geotab’s goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, one decade earlier than called for in the Paris Agreement. Not only does Geotab have its own goals for operating more sustainably, but it also leverages its position in the transportation industry, as a data-centric company, to help businesses do better so that they can do better things for the planet. Vehicle data identifies fleet-wide inefficiencies like idling and helps improve fuel management to minimize emissions. On top of that, vehicle data can help fleets make the transition to and manage zero-emission vehicles, seamlessly and efficiently. Together, with the help of data, the industry can move towards a better, more sustainable future.

Scope and industry trends in Southeast Asia

According to Statista, Asia is home to five of the world’s 10 most-congested cities. So, as countries in the region look for more efficient and sustainable transportation methods, they have started implementing policies that could set the stage for unprecedented advances in the use of telematics. For instance, in 2020, Malaysia disclosed a national automotive policy and set the goal of becoming a regional production hub for next-generation vehicles. Thailand plans to manufacture electric vehicles (EVs), constituting at least 30% of its total production capacity by 2030, while Indonesia is targeting EVs to account for 20% of its production by 2025.

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Reports also suggest that countries across the region have plans to manufacture batteries for electrified vehicles and to build charging stations. Furthermore, the market here is ripe for evolving towards sustainability. Among potential EV buyers in the region, more than half say they are willing to pay at least 21 per cent more for an EV compared to a conventional vehicle.

Additionally, eCommerce sales in Southeast Asia are expected to reach $172B by 2025, opening up significant opportunities in logistics—especially the last-mile delivery sector. Geotab telematics can help the region overcome its challenges and the demands of the transportation industry, which is why in January of 2021, Geotab announced its entry into Southeast Asia with new office space in Singapore. With this new office, Geotab seeks to deepen its relationship with a market that boasts a combination of a growing economy and a proactive approach to clean, smart transportation.

Geotab’s solution can now help to improve business operations in six areas: productivity, fleet optimisation, sustainability, safety, expandability and compliance, for more efficient fleet management.

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This article is produced by the e27 team, sponsored by Geotab

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