The world is changing and the future is now. Disruptive technologies are altering nearly every aspect of every business, and fleet management is no exception. In an era of smartphones, smart cities and smart mobility, the trucking industry is headed toward a “smart” future.

You can future-proof your fleet enterprises by paying attention to these four industry trends.

  1. Driverless freight: Trucks move 71% of all the freight, far more than planes, trains or boats. Autonomous trucks (ATs) will change the cost structure and utilization of trucking. Full autonomy could cut costs about 45 percent, saving the industry between $85 and $125 billion. And it’s already happening. In December 2019, the first driverless semi-truck successfully transported 40,000 pounds of butter 2,800 miles from California to Pennsylvania in under three days. Autonomy could also fill the driver shortage. The American Trucking Association estimates 160,000 driver positions will go unfilled in the next decade.
  2. Truck-as-a-Service (TaaS): Just as rideshare startups like Uber and Lyft are shaping the future of personal transportation, this trend is becoming a reality for fleets and will play an important role in how trucks are managed in the future. TaaS encompasses telematics, platooning, retail digitalization, and digital freight brokerage (DFB) and is expected to surpass $79.42 billion in annual revenues by 2025 — up from $11.2 billion in 2018. The DFB and telematics segments are anticipated to be the largest. DFB solutions are forecasted to reach $54.2 billion by the end of 2025. The telematics devices segment is projected to grow from 25.7 million units in 2018 to more than 73.1 million in 2025.
  3. Business Intellgience (BI): The future of fleets is centered around business intelligence and data algorithms. In the disrupted world of high-tech fleets, data is a key player. For example, truck fleet managers can leverage data on vehicle and equipment performance to see their Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and determine optimal fleet age, operational strategies, procurement and truck maintenance practices. The most powerful BI combines the fleet’s necessary financial and operating data.
  4.  Cybersecurity: Connectivity is changing commercial truck fleet operations but every connected technology — from telematics and remote diagnostics to in-cab software and onboard internet of things (IoT) devices like cameras — adds new cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Each of the technologies comes with security risks, and with everything interconnected, the exposure is exponential. It’s forecasted that 55 percent of commercial trucks will be connected by 2025. Cybersecurity researchers — aka white-hat hackers — have already shown that hacking big rigs is possible. Digital signals can be sent within a truck’s internal network and control instrument gauges, disable engine brakes and cause acceleration while the vehicle is in motion. The implications of a cyberattack on fleets could be devastating considering how the economy relies on ground transportation. With the connected truck market estimated to be worth $37.64 billion globally by 2022, the stakes are high.