Following the development of telematics today is like watching a robotic machine weave an enormous carpet of many colors and complicated, interlocking designs. Skeins and skeins of yarn (or data streams) wound onto countless shuttles (telematics devices) fly back and forth across the software loom forming intricate, interwoven patterns of blended shades and tones—nuanced information, surprising insights, subtle distinctions, and endless possibilities.

Telematics, like that carpet, is an amazing transformation of many small, individual elements into a dazzling, almost magical whole that, in the case of transportation, can take companies to places they have never been before—as long as they don’t get tangled up in the process.

“Both the telematics providers and users have evolved so much,” says Dyan Finkhousen, mobile resource intelligence strategy leader for GE Capital Fleet Services. “There have been big changes in just the past five years. People are thinking in terms of ‘telematics-based business intelligence.’

“We are seeing lots of investment in telematics solutions, more than ever. Companies also have more choice and more leverage with providers,” she adds. “Some buyers are already very focused on using advanced analytics to help support decision processes. Others focus on various telematics feature sets. At GE, we try to deconstruct those feature sets to help prospective clients see how telematics functions can support their business goals and guide organizational change.”

“Today, you really can’t compete anymore without telematics,” observes Norm Ellis, vice president of sales, service and marketing for Qualcomm Enterprise Services. “Telematics makes the impacts of various things (like delays) visible. Telematics information has already had a profound effect on trucking—on areas such as safety, driver retention and efficiency.”