As we approach the end of a decade, we’ve all become aware of some interconnected technology categories that are beginning to transform virtually every industry. As the internet and smartphones were to the last decade the internet of things (Iot), big data and artificial intelligence (AI) will be to the next decade.

Society has solved many big problems in recent times as global poverty has plummeted and average lifespans have soared. Nevertheless, we still have other significant challenges to tackle including climate change. Could IoT, big data and AI be part of the answer?

Last month we wrote about how dozens of start-ups in the western GTA are rapidly commercializing new IoT based products and services and enabling innovation. Unfortunately, many of our largest incumbent companies are used to a slower pace of innovation that’s incompatible with today’s rapidly changing world.  They’re in danger of being left behind. Today we’re going to highlight one company that has answered the challenge and is innovating rapidly at scale! We introduce you to Geotab and Torque Labs.

Geotab is a ‘global leader in telematics and fleet management solutions to businesses of all sizes.’  As we head towards an electric, connected and eventually autonomous transportation future they enable companies to more effectively manage their drivers and vehicles by extracting accurate and actionable intelligence from real-time and historical trips data. They do this using IoT created connectivity information generated by vehicles. They’ve got over 40,000 customers and almost 2 million connected vehicle subscriptions today and are growing rapidly! Another way to describe their business is as the ‘data operating system’ of vehicles and fleets. Geotab’s rapid growth comes from the way they look at the rapidly changing world from different perspectives.

Competition

Who’s your competition? Most companies are aware of and track their current competition. Their competitive position can be identified quickly, and competitor moves responded to in a timely manner. GM knows how to compete with Toyota and BMW. Exxon knows how to compete with Shell and Chevron. When change is slow that’s sufficient.

When technology enabled change accelerates however competition can move from the obvious to the existential! How does GM respond to Tesla and the rise of electric? How will Exxon respond to a world that needs less gasoline? With rapid change companies are increasingly missing some of their competition and the ones they’re missing are the most dangerous! Geotab continuously looks for and responds to ‘existence level’ competitors. In fact, Geotab IS an existence level competitor for some legacy firms.

Innovation

In the majority of traditional companies, innovation comes largely from inside the firm and is largely incremental. When expectations are for single digit revenue growth and possibly single digit cost reductions incremental innovation works and drives profit growth and corporate success. This model however does not work in a rapidly changing world.

Geotab drives innovation from inside the firm AND through the ‘Geotab Marketplace’ where Geotab and their customers, partners and resellers combine to drive value. For example, it turns out that for the larger Geotab connected fleet windshield wiper use, automobile speed and harsh breaking data can predict weather, road conditions and surrounding traffic to the benefit of the whole connected fleet! What an innovative use of IoT!

Geotab Torque Labs

‘Torque Labs’ by Geotab

In addition to their ongoing innovation efforts Geotab has created a separate organization within the firm that is a ‘start-up accelerator’, in some ways similar to the RIC Centre. It’s called Torque Labs and is specifically focused on leveraging Geotab’s platform of almost 2 Million connected vehicles and 40,000 customers to provide a springboard to drive new connected value. Projects could be focused on electrification, smart cities, safer communities, productivity improvements or next generation transportation solutions. The goal is to bring the power of entrepreneurship and partnership together to drive innovation to the benefit of all.

In closing Geotab (and the RIC Centre) like to quote Dr. Dieter Zetsche, former head of Mercedes Benz; ‘Electric mobility is like an upside-down ketchup bottle You know that at some point something will come out. You don’t know when, but once it comes, it really does!’ It looks like 2020 is when connected, electric and (eventually) autonomous transportation begins to flow! Will competitors be ready? Geotab will be!

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