A gullible media has sped up the assumption this technology will transform our lives.
HERNDON, Va. — In refining its GPS fleet technology, Wireless Matrix started big before moving up to the small.
The company built its technology on a client roster of major cable, utility and railroad companies that need to accurately track their fleets in real time to operate as efficiently as possible. Now, the GPS innovator is bringing its FleetOutlook Web-based system to small- to medium-sized fleet operations, including the chauffeured transportation and charter and tour sectors.
“People often question the value of fleet tracking for small businesses,” says J. Richard Carlson, President and CEO of Wireless Matrix. “The fact is that companies of any size can reap the tremendous benefits of increasing productivity while cutting operating costs. Plus, when you’re a small business owner, every dollar counts, so it’s vital to maximize the return on every dollar invested.”
Growing client base
So far, Herndon, Va.-based Wireless Matrix has three clients in the limousine, charter and tour industries, including Los Angeles-based Econation, a 2011 LCT Operator of the Year. As of late September, Wirless Matrix serviced 262 small- to medium-sized companies. It serves a total of about 85,000 U.S. and Canadian subscribers, defined as a FleetOutlook user or communications subscriber.
“For the past five years, the company reinvented itself and positioned to be a software service company and application provider,” says Mark Freeman, senior marketing manager for Wireless Matrix.
Wireless Matrix had primarily been a GPS technology provider for companies with large fleets, such as Time-Warner and DISH Network, Freeman says. During the last three years, it gradually started supplying software for small- to medium-sized businesses with fleets.
“Enterprise fleets are great, but there are only so many out there,” Freeman says. “The bread and butter come from small to mid-sized businesses. Our sweet spot as a company is any business that is service related, has frequent stops throughout the day, schedules that constantly change, and resources that need to be dynamically dispatched. We’re getting deeper and deeper into small businesses that are service related.”
Wireless Matrix distinguishes its GPS product from its competitors through different editions of its enterprise technology, branded as silver, gold, and platinum packages. Features and functionality vary among the packages depending on the size and scope of the fleet business and the need to interact with other software systems. Because the system is on a Web-based platform, no server updates are needed and access is easily available to whomever a company gives it. A mobile application of FleetOutlook was scheduled for release by Sept. 30.
“With access to Application Programming Interface (API), FleetOutlook enables other technologies or other apps to feed into it,” Freeman says. FleetOutlook provides out-of-box integrations with other applications that customers can leverage. “We can provide GPS data to other systems so it can go back and forth,” such as for billing, workforce management, and fuel card systems, he says.
Scaling up and down
Wireless Matrix refined its non-patented GPS system with large fleet companies, which now enables it to adapt the technology to any size company. Its largest company has 13,000 vehicles and its smallest client has one. “We are able to scale and be able to host as many vehicles as necessary,” Freeman says. “Some of our competitors cap out their networks at 200. We don’t have any restrictions.”
Wireless Matrix developed its exclusive technology through a combination of in-house expertise and strategic acquisitions, buying companies with similar technologies. “We have a very agile development platform that is constantly pushing out new technology,” Freeman adds.
Wireless Matrix is a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) trading under the symbol WRX. “We handle some marquee names and we know what we’re doing,” Freeman says. “You are not going to wake up tomorrow morning and [find that] we’re going to be gone.”
ROI & pricing
The ROI on FleetOutlook varies from one to three months, depending on the number of fleet vehicles and how the system is integrated into an operation. Based on studying usage among customers with hard-ROI data, Wireless Matrix determined the following savings on average:
A third party analyst firm, The Aberdeen Group, in November 2010 determined that the primary incentive to implement such GPS solutions is “customer demand for improved service performance,” Freeman says. “That rolls over nicely to the limo service business.”
For customers, Wireless Matrix provides the end-vehicle devices, with options to lease them. Clients can opt for a one-time upfront purchase of devices or treat them as an operating expense spread over the life of the contract. Prices are negotiable based on the number of units.
“We have a much higher number of individuals dedicated to engineering than sales,” Freeman adds. “Our product is constantly growing and expanding.”
FAST FACTS: Wireless Matrix
13645 Dulles Technology Drive, #100
Herndon, VA 20171
Office: (703) 262-4024
Fax: (703) 262-0380
Email: [email protected]
As a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Wireless Matrix reported the following annual results for its fiscal year ending April 30, 2011.
Source: Wireless Matrix quarterly financial conference call report
LOS ANGELES COMPANY THRIVES WITH WIRELESS MATRIX -- NEXT PAGE
SIDEBAR: Operation Sees Results On The Road
LOS ANGELES — Econation has saved about $400 a month since it converted to the FleetOutlook system by Wireless Matrix on Aug. 1.
“The dashboard gives me the ability to see at-a-glance key fleet metrics,” says Joel Stein, operations manager of Los Angeles-based Econation, which runs a fleet of 17 luxury green vehicles. “I have the ability to customize the dashboard. I can choose from 47 different metrics to display daily fleet trends, from idle time to the number of stops and speeding events. It’s very intuitive and easy to use. This provides data for me to make decisions and better manage my [chauffeurs].”
Stein says he can customize accurate reports for his fleet and see which drivers are the best and worst. Econation’s IT team also likes it because it seamlessly integrates and exchanges data with other systems via an API.
Econation often provides transportation for entertainment industry award shows and events, and chauffeurs Hollywood celebrities. “I need to know where my vehicles are in real-time,” Stein says. “High profile, demanding clients won’t stand for late pick-ups. I can receive accurate ETAs for my arrivals and departures.”
An added benefit is the ability to re-route runs instantly or find the closest chauffeur to a client, enabling Econation to “dynamically dispatch” its vehicles throughout the Los Angeles metro region, Stein says. “This helps when customers call in at the last minute and I need to get a chauffeur to the location fast.”
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