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Consumer Technology Trends Influencing the Transportation Industry

In the last decade, smartphones and tablets have changed how we communicate, interact with friends, shop and work. While this has impacted our personal lives, it has also changed the way industries rely on technology to get work done. The transportation industry is no exception.

Like most industries, transportation is taking cues from the use of technology in our personal lives to enhance performance, increase efficiencies and better connect and communicate. There are three specific areas of consumer technology that are having a big influence on how the transportation industry works. These include:

      1. A seemingly endless amount of devices: Fleets rely increasingly on mobile devices to streamline communication and improve driver productivity. The rise in smartphone usage and the requirement that many drivers complete activities outside of the cab on WiFi-enabled devices have begun to change how technology is used in transportation.

        In fact, more than 95 percent of drivers own a smartphone or tablet, and fleets are rapidly allowing drivers to use consumer-grade smart devices for work. According to a Samsung enterprise mobility trends study, one-third of all drivers already believe their smartphones have replaced the need for a traditional PC, with 61 percent choosing a smartphone if forced to pick just one device.

      2. There’s an app for that: Each of us has likely downloaded some type of app on our phone or tablet, whether something to help us better communicate, track our calories or beat our previous high score. The confluence of apps in our personal lives is also happening in the truck industry. According to Frost and Sullivan, trucking apps will represent a $35.4 billion market by 2025¹, and mobile-based trucking will be the biggest disrupter transforming the transportation industry.

        With the rise of consumer-grade devices in transportation, operating systems like Android are becoming more and more common. With Android, fleets can access a wide range of web-based, third-party apps that they can easily implement within their driver base. The flexibility and widespread use of Android also provides fleets with the opportunity to load and use only the apps it wants and needs.

      3. Faster, more robust wireless networks: These smart devices are connecting us like never before but the sheer amount of devices require wireless networks to provide better and faster coverage. To put things into perspective, it is estimated that there will be nearly 21 billion smart devices online by next year.

        To accommodate this growth, U.S. wireless carriers have begun to repurpose older 3G CDMA and GSM networks. The 3G network sunset is part of carriers’ continued investment in 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks to increase spectrum and maintain high levels of service.

        While 4G LTE networks have been used for years in the consumer space, many legacy technologies in transportation still rely on these older networks. By making the switch to LTE, fleets can harness faster data transmission, better coverage areas and avoid being left in the dark once 3G networks are fully sunset.

    The speed at which technology is changing can seem daunting but it also presents an opportunity for you to leverage it to your advantage. By investing in the latest solutions, you can enable increased levels of safety, performance and efficiency across your driver base. 

  1. Trimble recently debuted a new "hardware as a service" option to make it even easier to stay at the forefront of technology without breaking the bank. Read more about hardware-as-a-service for fleet management to see if it is right for your business.