Rental and leasing companies are embracing digitisation in all its forms. The main limit to their ambitions will be an adequate supply of vehicle data
A digital revolution is happening with leasing and rental companies, and the rate of change is accelerating.Much of this activity is taking place behind the scenes, as companies get to grips with their back-office processes.
In many cases, technology is starting to bring great value as Robotic Process Automation is used more widely for administrative processes. One quick advantage is in automating the entry of vast quantities of vehicle data that would otherwise have to be keyed in by humans. From initial details of vehicles to the exchange of information in customer and supplier reporting systems, machines are taking over the writing of files, significantly cutting turnaround times and improving accuracy.
This will not lead to a reduction in head count. Increased digitisation is enabling firms to restructure departments and put more staff on the front line where they can be used to support the growing demand for consultancy services.
Waiting in the wings as an untapped resource is a huge volume of real-time vehicle data. BVRLA members have yet to realise the potentially huge benefits this information could deliver in terms of predictive maintenance, safety and asset management.This looks unlikely to happen this year.
The issue of who controls this data – OEM, leasing/rental company or end user – and how it should be packaged and paid for remains unanswered, with no conclusion on the immediate horizon.A catch-22 is emerging with most OEMs unwilling to hand over vehicle data for nothing, while leasing and rental companies are reluctant to pay for it until they can demonstrate how it can be used to deliver fleet management value.
For customers, digital platforms are becoming ever more intuitive and flexible. Particularly in the PCH channel, digital interaction and customer service-based artificial intelligence systems are being rolled out across the industry. They are delivering huge levels of personalisation and detail which are increasingly replacing the car showroom experience. At the same time, they are providing a more reliable and efficient stream of individual transactions for lease companies and brokers.
The rental sector is also embracing digitisation and exploring some interesting new use cases. Next year will see the arrival of a range of new apps that can do everything from opening car doors to providing a pre-departure checklist or local driving advice. The success of the car club model has demonstrated where direct human contact is required and where it can be replaced by a well-designed app.