Trucks at Work

It’s not just trucks that need replacing …

One of the biggest drivers – if not the main one – behind the surge in truck sales this year and last is the fleet need to replace aging equipment.

Indeed, CK Commercial Vehicle Research (CKCVR), recently noted in its quarterly 40 fleet trend survey that the majority want to reduce their Class 8 age from the current average of 5.39 years to around 4.29 years; an “intention” the firm believes will keep Class 8 production above historical replacement levels well into 2016.

CKCVR emphasized that most of the fleets in its poll stated they are buying equipment strictly to replace aging equipment, without any fleet expansion, with the motivation to boost fuel economy and lower total ownership costs.

Indeed, 26% of fleets in the report stated that they accelerated their replacement cycle over the past few years in order to take advantage of lower operating costs per mile, with 80% reporting an average gain in fuel efficiency of around 5% – equating from $3,000 to $5,000 in fuel savings annually.

Yet as I noted in this post’s title, it’s not just trucks alone that may need replacing (although that’s the most obvious asset). For if a different poll is to be believed, information technology (IT) systems across the business world may be in dire need of an upgrade, too – systems that are becoming more and more critical in getting the maximum return out of all that highway iron.

A survey of 250 senior executives sponsored by Actian Corporation found that “analytic workloads” are failing in traditional technology environments that are pervasive across businesses today, with 50% of those polled indicating they “are not very confident” in their existing data infrastructures, while 56% said legacy systems are feeling the strain of these new workloads today and another 42 % noted their data warehousing platform is “breaking under the pressure.”

“Organizations face a set of unique challenges—and opportunities—as they navigate the disruptive waters of the modern data era and start to implement broad-based big data analytics and Internet of Things strategies to drive new revenue, improve customer analytics and capitalize on business opportunities,” noted Ashish Gupta, Actian’s senior VP of business development, in a statement.

“These same organizations know they are sitting on a wealth of untapped data due to the commercial and technical constraints of their traditional data management systems,” he added. “The ability of legacy data warehousing platforms and business intelligence (BI) tools to glean insights from big data is decreasing exponentially as more sources of data are poured into them.”

Gupta also stressed that “data is growing exponentially across industries,” with new data sources and the proliferation of connected things presenting new challenges for IT teams.

“Today, organizations must access, process and analyze their data in a manner that is completely different from how it was done even five years ago,” he said.

The performance of BI tools is also suffering in this environment, noted Actian’s survey, as just 40 % of respondents said such tools are working well with historical data sets, while 32% acknowledged these tools are overmatched by increasing data volumes and another 21% said performance on big data sets is so poor as to be no longer viable.

Then there’s the cost factor to consider. Some 47% of respondents to Actian’s poll noted that the cost to maintain traditional systems continues to rise, with an additional 46% stressing that “traditional technologies” were not designed to handle modern data workloads. “Just like mainframes that could not keep up with ‘compute and scale’ requirements, traditional data management systems are faltering in the face of current data workloads because of their architectural limitations and expensive commercial models,” added Gupta.

“Yet similar to mainframes that still exist for specific tasks, customers will not rip and replace traditional systems for transaction processing workloads,” he pointed out. “They instead choose to augment these systems with powerful analytic platforms to garner timely insights and maximize the value of their data.”

“This research shows how enterprises are caught between the past and the future with their data management and analytics platforms,” noted Dan Woods, principal analyst at CITO Research. “They also realize that this infrastructure simply can't handle the massive volumes of data it takes to keep organizations competitive in today's increasingly analytics-driven world. They must find money to invest in new capabilities that build on what they have.”

And it’s going to take a lot of money, according to another firm’s analysis.

Corporate360 projects that $200 billion worth of IT systems will be “refreshed” between 2016 and 2018 worldwide; a hefty technology bill that covers 20 million data center servers, storage and networking systems, 150,000 enterprise application upgrades, and 380,000 “shifts” to Cloud-based systems.

Whoa, that’s a lot – and how much of this technology “replacement” occur in the freight transportation sector? Time will tell.

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