Use Big Data in Small Ways for Huge Impact

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Use Big Data in Small Ways for Huge Impact


The term “big data” is all over the news these days. But what does that really mean? And more specifically, what does it mean for your fleet?

FridayFleet® sat down with Debbie Daniel, Team Lead for Donlen’s Strategic Consulting Services group. On behalf of Donlen clients, Debbie analyzes data and makes recommendations to help them lower cost and increase fleet utilization and productivity – key issues facing any size fleet today.

FridayFleet: What does “big data” mean?

Debbie-DanielDebbie Daniel: Big data is a term used to describe the vast amount of information being collected and stored. We live in an electronic world: everything we do is now captured and kept somewhere – from our shopping and online search habits to GPS information from our phones and vehicles. Analysts then use this information across every industry including health, science, marketing, retail, research, and yes, fleet management.

FF: You mention fleet management. Tell us about that.

DD: Data is collected on any program where there’s a transaction, so programs such as fuel, maintenance, toll management, telematics, remarketing, and purchasing provide a wealth of information for any fleet to use. But with any data, the most important thing to remember is that it’s only as good as what you do with it. I talk to fleet managers all the time and they’re sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of data their fleet is generating.

FF: So what should a fleet manager do with their data?

DD: There’s a misconception that you have to look at all the data. That’s simply not true. I say take it one step at a time: look at your Exception Reports first. An Exception Report lets you look at only what’s important to you. That way, you’re not overwhelmed trying to look at every transaction for a particular program. For example, for fuel you could look at spending limits, location based transactions, or items purchased. Exception Reports populate in real time, so the data is always current and readily available in FleetWeb®. Exceptions can really help you uncover cost savings potential.

FF: How so?

DD: Well, for example, a fuel Exception Report can help uncover fraudulent activity, which can be costly. And drivers out of maintenance compliance can lead to huge bills later on. We know there’s a correlation between preventive maintenance and maintenance costs: vehicles that aren’t maintained are going to cost you in the future, not only in dollars but also in downtime. (See Total Spend by Compliance Rate)


FF: What other ways are there to look at fleet data?

DD: I think the Fleet Scorecard in FleetWeb is a hidden gem! I find this to be one of the most comprehensive snapshots of fleet activity and I think every fleet manager should be looking at their Scorecard regularly. (See a portion of a Scorecard sample below) [FridayFleet note: if you don’t see “Fleet Scorecard” under Reporting, contact your Account Manager who can provide access.] The Fleet Scorecard populates in real time from whichever Exception Reports you’ve selected. It can also help identify if further analysis is needed. That’s where Strategic Consulting comes in; we start with the exceptions and can drill deeper from there.


FF: What programs come to mind when talking about using data for bottom-line impact?

DD: Maintenance for sure. And telematics is providing an incredible amount of information that’s being used in ways other than what you’d typically think of, such as wear-and-tear on brakes and tires, how long vehicles are sitting at the dealer after upfitting, and accident reduction. Toll management has become a hot topic among fleet managers as toll violations continue to be one of the largest violation expenses. Using the data from the vehicle transponder, a fleet manager can run an Exception Report to see if drivers are adhering to their the toll management policy. This is a good area to explore, as even a small reduction can have a large impact.

RELATED: 10 Surprising Ways to Use Fleet Telematics Data

FF: So I’m a fleet manager and I see a potential issue on my Exception Report, what should I do?

DD: The first step is to talk to your Account Manager, who can help you understand the report and can get a strategic consultant to dive into it further if needed.

FF: How is technology helping manage the data?

DD: As Strategic Consultants, our purpose is to help companies save money and increase productivity, and we use data and analysis to do that. FleetWeb is able to manage enormous amounts of data in real time, which makes our analysis incredibly time-sensitive. We’re looking at current data, not outdated numbers that may no longer be meaningful. This is an important distinction. We’re providing real-time solutions for customers.

FF: What’s the biggest opportunity that comes with managing fleet data?

DD: Two words: cost savings. Data not only identifies problems, it helps us uncover areas of opportunity as well. And with the cost savings comes increased productivity. That’s a win-win for any fleet.

FF: Indeed it is. Thanks Debbie!

If you want to learn more about how to manage data generated by your fleet, contact us now.

Debbie can be reached at 847-412-4928.


Running for a Good Cause


On May 22, Donlen participated in the J.P. Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge®, one of the world’s longest running and most popular corporate sporting events. The enthusiastic Donlen team endured chilly Chicago weather to not only raise money for a great cause (this year’s locally designated event recipient is Get In Chicago, a non-profit organization focused on building a safer community for at-risk youth), but also to accomplish personal goals. Here’s what some of the participants had to say:

Kim-SloanKim Sloan, Vice President, Process Excellence:
“I competed to achieve my race goal of 12 races in a single year! This was race number 12!”

June-delgadoJune Delgado, Supervisor:
“I do it to stay fit and set up new run-time goal. It’s nice to get together with familiar faces within Donlen and get to know coworkers from various departments.”

Sara-KeelerSara Keeler, Process Improvement Analyst:
“The event gave me the ability to continue on my health and fitness journey while representing Donlen. As a newer employee, it gave me the opportunity to get to know more of my coworkers and be part of a motivated, like-minded group. This was my fifth 5k this year and will help me reach my goal of 14 races in 2014.”

Rachel-bruskeRachel Bruske, Customer Service Account Manager:
“I’ve done a couple 5Ks in the last year and this was another opportunity to test myself and know that I can do it!  The best part is that it’s a great opportunity to get together with coworkers.”


Kathy Veliz, Customer Service Account Manager:
“It’s good preparation for an active summer, plus you can’t beat a race with the Chicago skyline as the backdrop!”

Julie-BarnettJulie Barnett, AP Clerk:
“Between rehabbing an injury and living with the fatigue of an autoimmune disorder, the easier thing for me to do would be…nothing, but doing nothing is just not an option. The constant training keeps me moving, and I’m now halfway to meeting my goal of four 5Ks per year. Doing the Corporate Challenge with co-workers is fun. It’s great to spend a bit of time with people I don’t usually get to see during the normal workday, and I love being able to put faces to the names of people from other departments or locations.”

linda-serranoLinda Serrano, Client Integration Administrative Support Rep:
“This was my first 5K. I participated because I wanted to challenge myself. I’d lost 30 lbs since I started my health journey and wanted to see if I could do it. My new goal is to beat my time.”

Lynn-NiewinskiLynn Niewinski, Team Leader, Accounts Payable:
“It motivates me to be healthier and it’s a fun to hang out with all my coworkers! This was my fourth year taking part in this event.”

Patrick-MitchellPatrick Mitchell, Driver Support Representative:
“It was imperative that I participate in the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge; after a year of making healthy changes in my life and participating in various health-conscious initiatives at Donlen, no other event provided a fitting culmination for my hard work than finishing my first race, which extracted sweat and tears, truly underscoring my physical progress. The race helped me to overcome some of my biggest fears: working out in front of others due to body-image issues, low self-esteem, and running outside “in the elements” versus in the privacy of my home. The race made all of us better people.”

Way to go, Donlen team. You rock!

Sloan Presents Fleet Safety Trends

donlen-tom-sloan-thumb-midDonlen’s Tom Sloan will join other fleet management experts at the upcoming Fleet Safety Conference for “Latest Trends in Fleet Safety Best Practices,” a panel discussion on proven fleet safety initiatives. You won’t want to miss this important panel to learn how you can incorporate these programs into your fleet operations. This year’s Fleet Safety Conference will take place on July 22-23, 2014, at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel. For a detailed agenda, visit >

Hours of Service (HOS) Guidelines

Much has been in the news recently about hours of service (HOS) for operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMV). It’s important that your drivers adhere to HOS regulations. Generally, a Commercial Motor Vehicle is any vehicle or combination of vehicles (i.e., pick up pulling a trailer) with a weight rating over 10,000 pounds. For a complete set of rules, visit >

Drivers or carriers (including dispatchers) who violate the hours-of-service rules face serious penalties:

  • Drivers may be placed out of service (shut down) at roadside until the driver has accumulated enough off-duty time to be back in compliance.
  • State and local enforcement officials may assess fines.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may levy civil penalties on the driver or carrier, ranging from $2,750 to $11,000 per violation depending on severity. Drivers who drive for more than 14 hours per day (more than 3 hours over the 11-hour limit) are more likely to face the maximum penalties.
  • The carrier’s CSA rating will be impacted by each HOS violation.
  • Federal criminal penalties can be brought against carriers who knowingly and willfully allow or require hours-of-service violations.
  • Motor vehicle accidents involving HOS violations resulting in injury or death will result in significant financial liability and impact the reputation of your business.

For assistance with HOS matters, please contact Steve Jansen at 847-412-4961.

GM Unveils OnStar® with 4G LTE

GM has announced the release of OnStar with 4G LTE. New 4G LTE features include high-speed internet, and built-in Wi-Fi hotspot functionality for multiple connections. Five years of connection and diagnostic services is included at no additional charge for model year 2015 vehicles equipped with OnStar. This includes RemoteLink® Key Fob Services and Monthly Vehicle Diagnostics. Some restrictions apply. For more details, or to read the fine print, download the PDF from GM here.

Driver’s Corner

It seems that it’s gone from winter to summer in many parts of the country – including Chicago. And that means hot temperatures. It’s important to stay hydrated to keep your body functioning properly. Sometimes it’s easy to forget to drink enough water. You’re busy going from appointment to appointment, sitting in traffic, or spending time on the phone or in meetings. You can help prevent dehydration by carrying a reusable water bottle with you in the car, drinking water with your meal, and drinking a glass of water when you’re feeling hungry. (The sensation of thirst is often confused with hunger, according to Signs of dehydration include dry mouth, sleepiness or fatigue, extreme thirst, headache, or feeling dizzy or lightheaded to name a few. Drink up and stay healthy and safe on the road.

And Finally

And finally, we’re swooning over this roundup of classic car logos! If you love design as much as we do, check out Chromeography, a site full of classic emblems, badges, and logos. Just want to check out all the Buicks? No problem. The site lets you navigate by car make, model, and decade. You can also search by the type of emblem: circle, badge, and lightening bolt (remember the Ford F-100?). So many of these are iconic and ingrained in our collective memories. But I’m sure there are emblems that you’ve never seen before – at least not all in one spot! Happy surfing. Check out the site here

Have a great weekend. Safe travels

Originally appeared in FridayFleet on June 20, 2014

About Donlen
Donlen is the industry’s most customer centric and technically integrated provider of financing and management solutions for corporate fleets. Utilizing a highly consultative and strategic approach, Donlen helps fleets reduce cost, improve utilization, and increase driver safety and productivity. Donlen’s innovation has been honored with the Computerworld 2012 Honors Laureate for Economic Development, the 2012 and 2013 InformationWeek 500 List of Top Technology Innovators Across America, and recipient of the 2013 CIO 100. Their workplace excellence has been recognized on the IAOP The Global Outsourcing 100® list for eight of the last nine years, and as one of the 101 Best and Brightest Places to Work For in Chicago each year from 2007-2012. Founded in 1965 and headquartered in Northbrook, IL, Donlen is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Hertz Corporation (NYSE: HTZ). For more information about Donlen, visit