Applying Design Thinking in Trucking Telematics

The Telematics space is certainly not new, and the technology is definitely evolving in a positive way, with more sophisticated sensors collecting and reading large amounts of data, location based technologies being developed both in out of the telematics space, it seems like there’s only up from here, but there could be one very important thing that is lacking…

With most of the telematics advancements happening on the sensor and data side, we have to remember that all this information is useless if it cannot be rendered properly for intended users. Simplifying large amounts of information is something that many industries need while displaying this information properly to multiple users both on the front end and the administration side.

This is where a designer’s mindset or “design thinking” can play a big role in the telematics product development lifecycle . Moving away from the problem focused product mindset to a solutions driven approach, generating actions, testing, then correcting through smart user experience and user interface design. By exploring your core users in depth and defining their needs clearly you will expose business, marketing, product and innovation gaps that will enable you to create truly special experiences with real business results.

There is real ROI (Return on investment) when adapting to an improved UX/UI process. Here are a few examples.

ROI on good UX/UI
– Increased user productivity
– Decreased user errors
– Decreased training costs
– Savings gained from making changes earlier in design life cycle
– Decreased user support

ROI from a sales perspective
– Increased sales
– Decreased customer support costs
– Savings gained from making changes earlier in the design life cycle
– Reduced cost of providing training
– Good user experience becomes a point of pride and a differentiator from competitors

As the telematics space advances in the trucking and other industry there are specific trends and needs emerging in the enterprise and the owned and operated space. Fleet managers are asking for richer data that’s flexible with the ability to make important decisions quicker while drivers want familiar hardware and user experiences that feel more natural and engaging.

A few areas to focus on in crafting better product development processes and UX experiences are; making sense of contextual information, customized views for your user sets, hardware design and keeping your products open for innovation.

Contextual information

Building efficiencies into every corner of the telematics experience is paramount for every fleet manager or independent owner. Getting in more deliveries, defining the fastest routes, properly managing cargo and avoiding breakdowns and fines ultimately means an overall better experience for drivers, less headaches and unwanted costs for fleet managers and increased revenue.

Data is king… But what good is it if you are not projecting it properly at the right time. Understanding all conditions at any given point in a journey and synthesizing that data into a more proactive user experience on the front end, means displaying key information at the right time which eliminates lost opportunities. There is a huge opportunity for designing adaptable interfaces that make sense of complex decision making algorithms and data sets while adapting in real time. Interfaces that are more proactive rather reactive, will adjust over time to specific locations and conditions give drivers and managers relevant viewports at the right times.


While offering the right contextual information is key, it’s important to remember the end users of the telematics products and services. Fleet owners want richer data with the ability to make quicker, more accurate decisions, while drivers want comfort and familiarity.

For fleet owners having the ability for each user to create their own custom views can offer different experiences when interacting with complex or more simplified data depending on the task or managers needs. Engineers and technicians should be able to drill deeper than the fleet managers, exposing a more comprehensive level of predictive maintenance data.

Drivers require and are asking for a higher levels of customization. The drivers world is becoming more demanding, with more information to track all while driving and being as safe as possible. Being able to add and subtract info modules on and off screen and adjusting the size and priority of each module creates a truly custom fit for each driver.


Many telematics companies also develop their own hardware dashboard solutions where others on focus on developing software and sensors. Creating and innovating proprietary sensors will always be apart of the telematics world but there truly is no need for manufacturing dashboard interfaces.

Using familiar devices like an Apple iPad or a Samsung Galaxy Tab with native or even a web app OS solutions would bring a level of ease and comfort to the drivers, offering more portability as well as creating a development environment that is more open and nimble. Displaying your applications and data on a tablet devices also offers companies the freedom to develop their systems in a more agile / rapid fashion, gathering usability feedback as the system is being used. More importantly it will offer the freedom to design interfaces that are customizable that truly adapt to users needs in real-time.

Using established hardware / tablets also offers the flexibility to take advantage of emerging technologies that are continuously being developed by companies like Apple and Samsung. This will help telematics companies save on custom hardware development and focus on adapting to user needs, deploying new features and staying ahead.

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