South Africa's fleet management industry will face several challenges in 2014. High on the agenda for fleet managers will face the reality of the new urban tolls in Gauteng, pending legislation regarding emissions, new technologies and the need to control fleet costs.
Thanks to a new service from Standard Bank South Africa (www.standardbank.co.za), some fleet managers will enter 2014 knowing that we are able to manage open road toll fee payments. In addition, they will also be able to increase their personal mobility within their businesses knowing that they can be constantly in touch with their operations through Standard Bank's new SMS service for fuel, oil and repairs and maintenance transactions.
Standard Bank's unique fleet SMS service will alert fleet managers every time a transaction is approved or declined at point of sale, advise where the transaction has taken place, the value of the transaction and the registration number of the vehicle on the forecourt.
It will be an instant real time service whose primary use will be to keep operators' fleets moving. In the event of a transaction being declined, the manager will be able to access the transaction authorisation website to find the reason for the decline and then take remedial action concerned, 24/7.
Adding value is the ability and flexibility for customers to designate who should receive the SMS's. Rather than loading one individual with all the information, the customer will be able to route messages. One designated person could receive all approved transactions, another all declined transactions. A third person could receive both approved and declined transactions.
"The product is at no additional charge to users of our fleet service products. All that is required is that they register. Actioning of the request is immediate, with reporting commencing with the next transaction," says Dr David Molapo, Head of Standard Bank Fleet Management.
Backing this new service will be the recently introduced transaction authorisation website that will help with the efficient management of costs. Online authorisations may have brought the fleet industry into line with credit card technology, but already the industry is looking forward.
The debate over the use of chip-and-pin technology will continue to be a point of debate within the industry during 2014, predicts Dr Molapo.
The question most being asked is whether the 'chip and pin' system commonly used in credit cards does not have a logical home in the fleet industry. Whether this technology will further advance the controls and benefits available through the real time transaction approval system is still open to debate.
The major discussion will centre on whether the 'chip and pin' system is the ultimate system for securing online transactions, or if the current online authorisation system as applied by Standard Bank Fleet Management sufficiently addresses this concern.
Lastly, emission taxes on vehicles, although still some way off being legislated, will continue to be monitored by fleet managers, as will the advancement of hybrid and electric vehicles that have the potential of reducing operating costs.
There has been an upsurge in the number of fleet operators taking up Standard Bank Fleet's ECO2Fleet product which provides information on emissions and is based on the internationally accepted Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reporting standards. Many of these customers run businesses that are part of multi-national companies and who routinely report on these matters in their corporate reports.
"2013 will be seen as the year in which the base was created for the assessment and introduction of new technologies in 2014 and beyond. There is no doubt that these will be assessed by operators on their ability to streamline operations and manage costs," says Dr Molapo.
"Forward-looking fleet managers are now also introducing the ECO2Fleet service to prepare their departments for eventual changes to legislation. This will reduce the learning curve that will be required when carbon tax is introduced.
"What is not in question is that we are operating in a competitive market. As a leader in the fleet management sector, we will obviously monitor, assess and introduce fleet solutions on the basis of the value they add and the benefits they offer our customers," says Dr Molapo.
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