Even after a massive investment, Verizon Connect still attracts a very similar type of customer to the ones Derek Bryan saw back in 2004 when he was operating above a shop in Templeogue.
Derek Bryan worked with Fleetmatics from its humble beginnings in 2004, right up until it was acquired by Verizon for €2.1bn in 2016. Following the acquisition, Fleetmatics became Verizon Connect, where Bryan now serves as vice-president.
Naturally, a period of major growth and transformation came with the acquisition of the GPS vehicle-tracking firm, including a move for 250 of the company’s employees into new offices in Sandyford.
Since then, Verizon Connect’s Dublin team has settled in and taken advantage of the momentum that Verizon’s major investment has generated.
“The move into our Sandyford offices was a big part of our integration into Verizon and it has been a very successful period,” Bryan told Siliconrepublic.com.
“It has also aligned with our move into other offices globally as part of the Verizon brand. With their reach and investment, we’ve moved into new facilities in France, Germany, Poland, Italy and Australia.”
Bryan remarked that although Fleetmatics was a successful and profitable company, it would have taken 100 years for the company to dominate the globe without significant investment and the opportunities that were provided by the acquisition.
As vice-president of sales for Verizon Connect in EMEA, Asia Pacific and Latin America, Bryan is responsible for the company’s international operations outside North America. He said things have been quite busy, as the company is currently in a hiring phase, seeking salespeople and talent for Dublin’s R&D facilities, among other areas.
According to Bryan, the recession is still fresh in the minds of many clients. Prior to the downturn, it wasn’t just companies that were overextended, but families too. After carrying debt for more than a decade, many businesses and individuals cannot help but be more cautious with their spending.
“The use of our technology has taken a life of its own in terms of the type of customer and the types of fleets that are using it because, if you think of the way that economies are right now, businesses are very much focused on cost saving,” he said.
“If you look at some of the concerns around economies right now – and I know we have been through a period of growth in Ireland and beyond – there are concerns about the future of potential growth, especially within Europe. Businesses are certainly looking for a way in which they can consolidate and become more efficient.
“Companies very much have an eye on the fact that they don’t want to create an environment, as they did historically, where they overstretched themselves at a time when they had money. Our technology is very good in terms of its ability to drive those savings and give people the opportunities to do more with less.”
‘You have to put out new products and new technology in an era of artificial intelligence’
– DEREK BRYAN
Even after the massive investment, Verizon Connect still attracts a similar type of customer to the ones Bryan saw back in 2004, when Fleetmatics was operating above a shop in Templeogue.
“Our typical customer is a small to medium-sized business with about 10 vans on the road providing a service. Usually a maintenance service or electrical engineering service or an installation service,” he said.
“[They sit] within the service industry, where time is money, where overtime can become a cost and where the time on site – and measuring that time on site – is crucial.”
With all of that said, Verizon’s investment has also allowed the company to better cater to customers in other industries, such as transport and delivery.
In the Sandyford offices, product evolution has remained as important as ever, according to Bryan.
“You have to put out new products and new technology in an era of artificial intelligence, with new vehicles, electric vehicles and other opportunities arising around data,” he said, before going on to speak about one of Verizon Connect’s latest products, entitled Engine Connect.
Launched in March 2019, it enables operators using Verizon Connect to better interrogate a car’s engine control module (ECM), which is essentially the vehicle’s brain.
The ECM collects a considerable amount of data, including the vehicle identification number, the actual fuel usage, precise odometer readings and, most importantly, digital diagnostic trouble codes.
“These enable the operators of those vehicles, those using Verizon Connect’s platforms, to see if a vehicle needs an oil change, and adds an emergency warning against that,” Bryan explained.
“The operator now has real and accurate data coming from the vehicle itself and not just from the GPS. There’s a multitude of reasons why that’s important – obviously around fuel usage, but very much the health and safety implications, particularly around diagnostic trouble codes and emergency warning lights.
“If you think of any organisation dealing with the cost of insurance, risk is at the forefront of where a lot of businesses are concerned right now. This would be an opportunity to be aligned with those risks and to ensure that your vehicles are not just travelling at the correct speed or where they should be, but also that the operators of those vehicles are safe as well.”
Heavy goods vehicles
Like anyone who works closely with the heavy goods vehicles (HGV) business, Bryan is well aware of the hefty legislation relating to the movement of HGVs. Mentioning tachograph legislation in particular, Bryan explained that there’s a huge number of rules and regulations driven both locally and by the European Commission.
This is what makes the Verizon Connect digital tachograph an important addition to the company’s offerings. For drivers of HGVs and companies that employ HGV drivers, there’s important legislation about driving times that has been put in place as a health and safety measure.
“There are hefty fines levelled against companies if they’re not in line with those requirements,” Bryan added.
It’s difficult to enforce these regulations when HGV drivers are away from base for long periods at a time. However, with Verizon Connect’s digital tachograph, Bryan said that fleet managers can download files and access driver activity from anywhere.
“Our HGV tachograph technology gives operators and companies the ability to interrogate the tachograph and see how the performance and the drivers are, without the need to return to base.”
Paired with Engine Connect, Bryan believes that this technology encourages efficiency, in regards to both fuel and finance.
As Verizon rolls out 5G in North America, it seems natural to wonder if Verizon Connect will adopt any of the technology that could take advantage of the service. As Bryan’s main focus is on Europe and regions outside of North America, it’s not a huge priority for Verizon Connect at the moment.
“While 5G is not widely available outside of North America, we will find gradually that the implementation of 5G services everywhere is expensive to roll out, but does deliver speeds that are absolutely phenomenal,” he said.
“If you think about our standard vehicle management technology, it’s probably hard to see what 5G would have a significant impact on, but it could potentially improve our ability to deliver other services in the future. We’re a long way from needing 5G for our day-to-day work.”
He added: “It’s an interesting space. Technological advances in autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence, and the drive to be eco-friendly – that’s having an impact on our industry and around the whole movement of people and goods in the future.
“Lots of conceptual ideas are around now, but there’s nothing immediate in the market that’s really taking advantage of those technologies. That’s something we’ll see in the coming years.”
What Bryan guarantees we will see from Verizon Connect in the future, however, is continued growth across the globe.
“I think our continual drive to deliver new and visionary solutions to our customers is in line with what they would expect us to do from an innovative and technological perspective.
“After your employees, for most businesses the most expensive asset is usually the fleet of vehicles. I think our customers very much expect us to be at the forefront of that technology, where we’re considered global leaders.
“The responsibility is to continue to deliver innovative ways to deliver efficiency, reduce fuel costs and increase productivity.”
Looking ahead, Bryan reiterated that AI will be a major part of this industry in the future. “There are opportunities around artificial intelligence, particularly opportunities around the electrification of vehicles,” he said.
“All of that will be something we’re monitoring and looking for ways to take advantage of, as the type of customer and the type of fleets on the road change in the years ahead.”