Today in our AMN Executive Interview series, we sit down with Mike Fitzgerald, vice president and general manager, Innova Fleet Services, to talk about Innova’s recent acquisition of Aftermarket Telematics Technologies, the future of telematics and connected vehicles and what the company has in store for AAPEX 2016.
This has been quite an exciting few months for Innova, with the acquisition of Aftermarket Telematics Technologies and the creation of the Innova Telematics Solutions division. Tell us how this acquisition came about.
We have been planning to expand our connected car technology offering for some time. Following the introduction of our unique Innova Fleet Management System, we set out to thoroughly evaluate a variety of paths. It became clear that acquiring Aftermarket Telematics Technologies LLC (ATT) and its connected car technology was the best way for us to provide customers with a full suite of telematics solutions. With this acquisition, we are now able to offer comprehensive connected car technology for fleets and consumer vehicles and are uniquely positioned to help our aftermarket customers compete. In addition, Jim Dykstra agreed to join the Innova team as part of the agreement and he is serving as director of telematics for the new Innova Telematics Solutions division. All in all, the acquisition has been a very positive step for us.
And the timing couldn’t be better. What do you foresee as Innova’s strengths and advantages as the automotive industry continues to quickly advance within the world of telematics and the connected car.
You’re right. Telematics is growing exponentially and will quickly change the way shops do business. Those who embrace emerging telematics technology, like remote diagnostics, will be competitive and thrive.
Our in-depth diagnostic approach and expertise, coupled with the offerings that our connected car technology provides, prove to be a real strength as we can now make available to our customers a level of telematics diagnostics that previously hasn’t existed in the aftermarket. Time is money and this technology saves the service provider time diagnosing vehicles and allows them to compete more efficiently against their OE competitors.
It was roughly a year ago that we spoke in another AMN Executive Interview about the launch of the Innova Fleet Management System. Please give us an update on how this new system is being received in the marketplace.
We have received tremendous feedback about the Innova Fleet Management System and its many advantages for fleets. [There are] several areas that stand out when it comes to vehicle maintenance. The Innova in-depth diagnostics feature activates when there is a check engine light event. By alerting fleet managers as soon as events occur, they can perform necessary repairs before they become much larger issues. Predictive failure information provided by Innova gives fleet managers useful insight into the service history of a particular type of vehicle and the potential service issues that may arise with that vehicle in the coming months. And, the robust, customizable maintenance management and reminder module alerts fleet managers that maintenance intervals are approaching and continues to send reminders if the service interval has gone by without action.
We have found that the Innova Fleet Management System is especially helpful to smaller fleets where there may not be a dedicated, full-time fleet manager or service technician on staff. The information and alerts provided by Innova can help save time and increase productivity by assessing, alerting and reminding them of fleet vehicle needs as they juggle all of their other responsibilities.
How will the new Innova Telematics Solutions division be involved with the Fleet Management Business?
By combining Innova Fleet Services and connected car technology under one umbrella, Innova Telematics Solutions, we now provide business intelligence, remote diagnostics and parts and vehicle management technology to serve four important auto care industry stakeholder groups: service providers, parts stores, fleets and consumers.
It’s very important to reinforce an exclusive aspect of the Innova telematics program – parts stores are included in the process and have their own log-in portal. They can receive email alerts about their customers’ vehicles, their service and maintenance needs and the parts that may be required for the repairs. This way the store can make sure they have the parts on-hand and can reach out to assist their customers.
Most importantly, the actual branded part number unique to the parts store is sent to both the parts store and its customer, saving valuable time spent looking up the part. In many cases, the parts store will be able to have the part delivered to the customer even before the vehicle comes in for service.
What’s next for Innova? Will you be exhibiting at AAPEX?
With all the interest in Innova Telematics Solutions, we are really looking forward to exhibiting at AAPEX (booth No. 4856). In addition, it is an ideal time to showcase our recently updated Innova diagnostic tools line with features like color screens that are easier to use, provide more functionality and reflect changes in vehicle technology.
What’s next for us? Well, telematics is a game-changer. We believe it will be an integral part of our business, our industry and our future, and we are determined to help lead the way when it comes to connected car technology. More information than we can now imagine will become available through telematics and it is up to leaders in the auto care industry, like Innova, to figure out how to harness and employ the data on behalf of vehicle owners.