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Fleet leaders prepare for automation, upskilling

May 22, 2023
A Samsara survey of physical operations leaders from fleets, logistics companies, and beyond indicates global preparation for an increasingly automated, sustainable marketplace.

Fleet technology company Samsara has released a report indicating that corporations worldwide are preparing for a major shift in the workplace, with most business leaders preparing for technological and economic shifts that will create jobs that currently don’t exist, forcing companies to adapt.

The report is based on a survey of over 1,500 C-suite executives, presidents, vice presidents, and directors at organizations that manage physical operations across nine countries. Industries polled include transportation and logistics, construction, manufacturing, utilities, and more, according to the report.

Despite historically high fuel prices and inflation, and 42% of respondents being concerned about a recession, 67% of leaders are increasing their technology budget this year.

"There is no denying that monumental shifts are underway in operations,” said Jeff Hausman, Samsara's chief product officer. "Our research shows that those who have made digital transformation a key priority are better equipped to bring their organizations into the future, with many expecting positive change and return on investment as soon as the next 12-18 months.”

See also: Four ways fleet managers can avoid data overload

Much of the investment anticipates increasing reliance on automation for businesses to stay competitive, with 91% of leaders planning to employ more automation in their operations.

Generative AI, such as the likes of ChatGPT, has received much buzz in the past year, and 31% of respondents already use similar technology in their operations. However, by 2024, adoption is expected to ramp up, as 84% of leaders plan to utilize generative AI in their operations.

“These new types of generative AI models are going to be game-changers. Now you’re starting with an already powerful piece of AI technology and then tuning it to a specific use case or problem. These models will evolve quickly to understand businesses and inform decisions that cut costs and optimize operations,” said Samsara’s Head of Machine Learning and Computer Vision, Evan Welbourne

Fleet managers and drivers who use AI-enabled dashcams may understand the potential the technology has to coach employees, using the tool to identify trends and driver habits that can negatively impact safety. As one-sixth of physical operations employees are predicted to be doing jobs that today do not exist, according to the report, 65% of respondents plan to use AI to coach workers in real-time.

“New technologies have the power to create jobs and upskill employees as they bring more data into the picture,” Hausman said. “Take computer vision for example— it completely transformed driver coaching by making it possible to give feedback in real-time. Continued innovation like this will lead to safer roads for us all.”

A sustainable society offers market opportunities

Many companies already seem to see the writing on the wall as emissions regulations tighten, with most businesses already incorporating electric vehicles into their fleets, and most planning to monetize a coming market that could reward those organizations with sustainability on mind.

The vast majority—almost nine-tenths—of respondents said their fleet is already at least 20% electric or hybrid, with just over half of vehicles projected to be hybrid or electric by 2025. To make the most of transportation electrification, 62% of respondents said they will explore charging station monetization in the next two years, and 58% will pursue EV monetization by selling energy back to the grid.

See also: Managing expectations for a cleaner freight future

Levente Szabo, a representative of Canadian supermarket chain Sobeys, stated in the release that “Sobeys already successfully performed a study to replace 10 diesel vehicles in the fleet with Class 8 EVs and plans to achieve a significant fuel and emission reduction as a result. As a company, we would like to reduce fuel consumption and emissions across the board both for the fleet and our infrastructure. We are currently looking to add more EVs as soon as possible.”

As the workplace changes and new jobs with new requirements arise, 56% of leaders are planning to invest in sustainability knowledge and skills, such as environmental data collection, carbon accounting, and knowledge of regulations.

See also: Samsara launches tools focused on sustainable fleets

"The bottom-line benefits of digitization are clear, but it's the positive impact on lives and the environment that will be the most incredible to see,” Samsara’s Hausman said. “These leaders are shaping what we'll remember as a transformative decade in physical operations."

The full 2023 State of Connected Operations Report can be found on Samsara's website.

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