Paul Stock discusses how emerging technologies affect the way we do business.

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Paul Stock

Video-based technology systems have been integral safety tools in the crane, rigging and specialized carrier industries, and the adoption of these systems is growing rapidly. Advancements in technology algorithms, system integrations and increased employee acceptance have contributed to a more competitive market with flexible solutions to fit precisely what the customer needs. While this has created a winning situation for the consumer, emerging technology platforms and new terminology can cause information overload and confusion. Taking the time to evaluate these options and truly understand what will be delivered can have a valuable impact on the day-to-day management of the solution chosen.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the buzz in almost every industry; from autonomous vehicles to how we search the internet. AI has given us the ability to proactively identify distracted driving based on driver behaviors alone, without the need of a g-force or speeding event to first trigger the device through video solutions. It does this by recognizing the hand and head movement consistently associated with those behaviors, as well as the number of seconds associated with the movement. Sending alerts to the driver to regain attention forward and in some cases sending alerts back to the office in real time, these immediate reminders help bring safety back to the forefront. Being able to more consistently identify and coach distracted driving behaviors such as phone or tablet use as often can have a significant impact on reducing these actions and the risks of sharing the road with these drivers. It can also help a carrier identify fatigue within their driving force, improving the overall health and safety of their drivers and general public.

Machine learning

Machine Learning is another application gaining a lot of attention recently and with good reason.  Building on the foundation of AI, Machine Learning is a systems ability to automatically learn and improve upon itself from experience without manual manipulation. As these systems gain more data, the better they get at delivering the information you are looking for. Systems leveraging this capability are now able to detect driving behaviors such U-turns, rolling stop signs and following distance without the need for human review and detection.

As new products focused on AI and Machine Learning continue to emerge, technology companies require a strong sales team. Resources are necessarily applied to these teams to grow the customer base quickly. Although a factor, this approach is not simply focused on subscription growth. It is critical to gain significant volume of vehicles on the road performing these AI and Machine Learning functions to further the credibility of their algorithms. The more growth these newcomers experience the more accurate these features become for all users.

A holistic approach

In addition to building out new triggering capabilities and reporting functionality, systems are becoming more holistic to the needs of an operator by offering a broader set of capabilities. All-inclusive systems are becoming more widely available through system integrations between cameras, electronic logging devices (ELDs) and telematics companies. The intent of this is to ensure consumers have the ease of a one-stop shop as well as a singular platform to manage their daily operations. This has proven to be a successful approach as more operations are in search of a streamlined solution and we should see technology companies continue in this direction.

Strong technological advances are propelling this industry forward and the promise of these new features is exciting. However, one thing that has not changed in this space is the value of service.  Service can be looked at in two ways – the level of additional services a company offers and the customer service experience.

When a company offers additional services and system integration, this makes their system more user friendly and creates a more effortless experience for their customers. Some companies deliver a more actionable platform by including live reviews and video analysis in addition to the event trigger type and other standard event details. Reviewers use a comprehensive checklist of items to search for, including various levels of speeding, driver distractions and fatigue to generate an overall weighted score of each event to be delivered to the user’s online platform. The overall theme is a need for efficiency and quick, actionable tasks delivered to an online platform instead of burdening company personnel to keep up with video downloads and constant reviews. While these services can appear to have an additional cost, they truly minimize the time and resources needed internally to manage this type of system and they can improve your ability to proactively manage drivers and control losses.  

Also important across all systems is the customer service experience. AI and Machine Learning boast collision prevention and potential return on investment that we have not seen in the past; however, a returned phone call or email still remains essential to daily operations. Most products will experience a hiccup at some point, and this is even truer in the world of technology. Having a strong team to quickly respond to those situations remains crucial to an overall positive user-experience and ensuring you can find resolution. Asking for customer referrals when evaluating a new system is important to gain insights.  

A buyer’s market

Consumers have waited years for technology systems to combine and offer the one-stop-shop solution, or to deliver more immediate feedback to drivers when they experience distractions or fatigue. Technology companies are investing resources into developing all-encompassing solutions to meet user demand and compete in the marketplace. Whether you are looking for a new camera solution or hoping to improve operational efficiency through telematics, technologies are quickly adapting to industry needs.

This competition puts tech consumers in a strong position. It is a buyers’ market; making it a great time to evaluate options and ensure the company can deliver what your operation needs out of the system. Take the time to understand what features are available today and what features are on the 2020 roadmap and may not show up until 2021 or beyond. Navigating the sales pitch and reading between the lines takes more time on the front end, but will pay dividends in the future. Lean on your insurance providers to help you make an informed decision. Your insurance carrier may even offer support for services and technology like telematics programs or automated event recorders.

New solutions and expanding options bring exciting opportunities. However, two factors still remain important when considering your options – the right fit and your management plan. First, take the time to evaluate how these products can fit into your operation and meet your unique needs – there is not one best choice that applies to everyone. Second, understand the information that will be coming into your company and how you plan to manage it. No matter which technology, the data is only as valuable as the action you take on it. The same solution provides varying levels of ROI to companies based on how effectively they manage the information. When managed correctly, these systems can be your best asset in analyzing and improving your overall safety performance of your operation.

Key takeaways for management:

  • Ask for customer referrals when evaluating a new system to gain insights.
  • Not every solution will make sense for your company, but making an informed decision is much better than watching your competitors advance past you.
  • Lean on your insurance providers to help you navigate the many options, as they most likely have some hands-on insight they can share.  
  • Develop a plan to manage the data you receive from your technology partner.