Minneapolis. When the house lights dimmed and the opening general session of the Xata User Event (XUE) began here on Monday morning, the company was called Xata. When the lights went back up, the company had a new name, XRS Corporation, and a new, all-mobile platform sharing the same XRS moniker. The new name stands for Xata Road Science. It honors both Xata’s history and its commitment to mobile technology as the way of the future.
“The mobile revolution is undeniable,” said Jay Coughlan, CEO of XRS, as he opened the meeting, noting that companies have to keep moving to stay alive. “[Ask yourself] what technology you have to take advantage of today because it is available---not because you want to, not because you feel like it, but because there is no choice. What if your competitor acts and you don’t and they gain an advantage?”
“Xata + Road Science= XRS,” he continued. “It all begins today. The name just reflects the changes we have already made. We have a clear vision: to provide the best product and to have the most trucks on the road using our platform. [Number of trucks will be our scorecard, our measure of success.]”
The company’s new, all-mobile platform is designed to help fleets and drivers capture data for two essential needs: to keep fleets and drivers compliant with regulations and to slash costs. Currently in beta testing, it is scheduled for general release in late spring or early summer of 2013.
XRS is an open platform, built to partner with applications on multiple carriers while keeping up with changes in mobile communications. It will run on more than 50 types of mobile devices now-- including Android and Windows Mobile smartphones, tablets and rugged handheld devices--- to automatically transmit vehicle and operator data directly to a management dashboard. More operating system certifications are on the way.
It has been developed to run on 3G, 4G, LTS, ultra-broadband and “whatever the next generation of mobile technology brings.” Partnership agreements are in place with AT&T, Verizon and Sprint in the U.S. and Rogers in Canada. XRS operates in the Amazon Cloud, providing scalability and mobile access virtually everywhere.
Here is how the system works: A small, in-cab mounted XRS Relay taps into the truck’s computer. (It installs in about ten minutes, according to the company, without the need to drill holes in the dash.) Data is transferred from that device via Bluetooth to the driver’s smartphone, tablet computer or rugged device. Then the data is transferred via cellular network to the Web-based system for data collection and analysis, creating a dashboard showing compliance and fleet optimization data and scorecards.
The Relay is provided to users at no extra charge as part of their subscription to the service, which will be in the range of the current Turnpike pricing, with varying levels dependent on package and feature functionality.
Nearly 90% of drivers already have mobile devices in use, meaning they will have no additional hardware costs associated with XRS. “The return on investment is almost immediate,” they noted, “and it pays off in driver productivity, fuel efficiency, fleet utilization, accident prevention, compliance and much more.”
The list of compliance tools includes:
* Hours of service (HOS) tracking
* Automatic alerts for timely filing of driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIR)
* Automated fuel tax reporting
The move to an all-mobile platform means that XataNet and Turnpike, the company’s current offerings, will be phased out over a period of several years. XRS Corporation, however, has pledged to work closely with existing customers to make the transition as easy and seamless as possible.
"The days of expensive, hard-wired, on-board installations are gone,” observed Coughlan. “Mobile technology is established in our industry; XRS is the next step. We are already working with our legacy Xata customers to help them go mobile with ease and efficiency. We are truly excited for how XRS will transform our industry.”
According to Coughlan, the company’s eight years of success and more than 50,000 mobile subscribers with its first-generation mobile tool, Turnpike, paved the way for XRS. “We saw the potential of the mobile market when we acquired Turnpike in 2009,” he noted. “[Although we did not realize it at first,] “we had a tiger by the tail….
“Mobility is driving everything,” added Christian Schenk, vice president, market development and product marketing for the company. The Google tablet population doubled over last Christmas, he noted. “Today, there are 14,216 apps for drivers.
“Why is there so much emphasis on mobility? It is about flexibility and scalability—about reaching new heights,” Schenk said.
XRS also introduced attendees to its next generation social network called “Xata Nation.” Schenk explained that it is a tool members will interact with in many ways from finding answers to technical questions and accessing training, to engaging in unfiltered discussions. Xata Nation is also expected to launch in the late spring or early summer of 2013. At launch, the new social network will be for XRS users only, but plans are to eventually open it up to the trucking industry as a whole.
The new company name, XRS Corporation, will be listed on the NASDAQ as early as August 14 under the new symbol “XRSC.”