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Balancing AI and human input in fleet management

February 26, 2024

The recent disruption caused by new artificial intelligence (AI) tools – particularly with the 2022 launch of new generative AI tools like ChatGPT – is having a lasting impact on the way businesses operate. Industries across the board are streamlining their processes and maximizing efficiencies. As technology evolves and becomes more complex, so are the industries reliant on these tools. AI offers a range of benefits for fleet managers by adding cost-savings and efficiency features to existing fleet management tools.

Where does AI fit in the growing market of fleet management software?

Fleet management software includes tools that collect information, measure data, and ensure success for businesses managing a fleet of vehicles. These tools offer a variety of functions – from route optimization to fuel management – which allow managers to most effectively oversee their vehicles and drivers. AI’s generative capabilities and automation features offer great opportunities for fleet managers to streamline processes and improve the bottom line. 

According to a Fortune Business Insights study, the global fleet management software market size reached just over $20 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow to almost $80 billion by 2030. The report spans a range of fleet management companies that offer GPS tracking, telematics, maintenance, driver safety tracking, and various other solutions. Companies are seeing the competitive advantage that technology has to offer and are readily adopting these tools to help support their businesses. Technology is the driving force behind the evolution of how we manage business and AI is the current leader in tech trends. As fleet management software quickly increases AI application use we’ll likely see more products and services with more complex offerings.  

The pandemic left a lasting impact on the fleet industry while driving technological advancements forward

A surge in the expansion and increased sophistication of fleet management software over the last several years stemmed from the COVID pandemic, which severely impacted the transportation and logistics industries. Global supply chains faced disruptions, exposing the unreliability of many traditional methods of goods shipment and highlighting the need for more advanced, real-time tracking solutions. The post-pandemic era has seen a shift across all industries with companies leaning into technology wherever it can be used to supplement manual processes, and accelerating the growth of various technological sectors, AI included.

While AI has its perks, human input is key to success

Use of AI in fleet management primarily focuses on proactivity and prediction. One example of ways predictive tools can help with fleet management is by forecasting potential vehicular issues in your fleet using historical data, while also tapping into a vast library of ancillary data AI has access to. With predictive tools, maintenance can be done before any vehicular problems start to take effect, minimizing downtime and avoiding more serious mechanical problems with your fleet. Route optimization and fuel consumption optimization can also be expanded upon using AI as AI tools can navigate through vast pockets of information to find optimal times, routes, and best place to buy fuel for your drivers.

One notable AI strength is its ability to process vast amounts of data faster than any human could. Using AI to sift through data can save fleet managers time and energy, enabling them to make quick, data-driven decisions. 

However, while we are still celebrating all that AI has to offer, it is important to remember that it has limitations. While AI can perform certain tasks with great accuracy and intelligence, it cannot replicate human creativity and understanding. AI cannot pick up on the nuances of interactions. It can’t be spontaneous or respond to the human factors that go into decision making like ethics, morals, or emotions. Human intervention is essential to understanding the bigger picture of business operations. 

Strive for the perfect blend of human and artificial intelligence

The key to achieving the perfect blend of AI and human production is unique to each company. Assess your business needs and identify the areas where AI can alleviate the workload. Consider how AI can be used as a predictive tool and provide analytical support. AI should be viewed as a complementary tool, refining human expertise rather than replacing it. A successful AI integration relies on recognizing its strengths and pitfalls, and leveraging it to create a productive and smooth workflow.

The future is undoubtedly going to bring more and more advancements in how AI impacts operations. Taking advantage of the opportunities AI provides early on is the best path forward for your business. Striking the right balance of AI and human input will help ensure fleets operate at peak efficiency but also retain an optimal level of creativity and thoughtfulness needed to maintain effectiveness, and stay competitive. 

WEX speaks the language of small business operators. Whether you’re looking to modernize your insight and reporting efforts, save on fuel costs or take advantage of the latest GPS tracking technologies, WEX offers solutions to simplify the business of running a business. To learn more about WEX, a dynamic and nimble global organization, please visit our About WEX page.

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Fortune Business Insights

Editorial note: This article was originally published on July 4, 2018, and has been updated for this publication.

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