Alan Cottrill – commercial director, Trak Global

This month we caught up with Alan Cottrill, commercial director at telematics solution provider, Trak Global. Here, Alan shares with us his thoughts on the UK telematics journey, what the future holds and what impact all of this will have on the bodyshop sector.

Trak Global works in partnership with some major household names. Please give us an overview of the business.

Trak was founded by our managing director, Nick Corrie, our chief technical officer, Kamran Mahoudzadeh and myself in 2009 with an ambition to provide telematic solutions to both the insurance and fleet sectors.

Today, we have fitted more than 50,000 units to a variety of vehicles across the UK and we have achieved this by focusing on entire solutions. With that I mean we not only provide the black box for the vehicle, but a bespoke and integrated system to manage the client’s needs that combine telematics data and business as usual data to deliver real benefits.

Trak Global Solutions currently employs more than 70 people. More Than Smart Wheels and Europcar, amongst several others, employ Trak Global’s services.

How does Trak Global operate and manage such a diverse range of solutions?

Each diverse market, such as rental and insurance, is headed up by an industry specialist who understands and can deliver services that are applicable to the diverse requirements of each sector. A prime example is Dave Turnock, our rental relations director. Dave has over a decade’s experience with rental companies such as Sixt, Helphire and National.

Acceptance of telematics systems has not been a smooth ride. Where is the UK market currently in terms of that journey? What have been the key turning points?

The fleet sector has a long history of working with telematic tracking data, however, the cost of traditional telematics products and the logistics involved in moving and managing the technology has made it difficult for some companies to accept the commercial benefits, which were largely to be proven.

However, the commercial benefit of telematics data, if used effectively, is now starting to map out. With respect to insurance, the return on investment (ROI) is now great. Before, companies were being theoretical about the benefits but now we are able to deliver precise data to improve efficiencies.

The success of telematic pioneers in all of the market sectors has proved the theoretical commercial benefits are real and this has forced late adopters to consider the technology to maintain their market positions.

As self-proclaimed ‘architects in telematics’ what current and future trends are we likely to see emerging?

I believe what we will see is the sources of location-based data will increase and we will see a mixed economy of solutions that are right for particular market segments. It will be interesting, for example, as connected cars become more prevalent how this source of data influences the insurance in fleet sectors.

Having previously spent 11 years with Audatex, how do you see the evolution of telematics impacting on the motor claims process? How will bodyshops be affected?

Our initial interest in telematics was largely focused on the value of immediate notification of an accident. We believe this allows early and pro-active intervention of a claim to ensure all parties involved are handled in the most cost effective, efficient and cared manner without compromising customer care.

However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the data identifies higher risk drivers and effective, pro-active, intervention here can help drivers avoid being involved in what is likely to be a stressful event.

Personally, I believe bodyshops are likely to benefit from the improved claims process which will allow repairs to be allocated based on both capability and capacity, enabling repairers to more efficiently process repairs. However, the improved management of policyholder behaviour, coupled with improved technology within vehicles, will continue to reduce the accident rate and severity, which will ultimately mean we’ll see less capacity required in the bodyshop sector.

You personally are credited as playing a ‘key role’ in the development of Trak’s impact recognition technology. Please explain more…

While I was involved in this development it was a collaboration between the entire Trak Global team. We are fortunate to have some very experienced and technically gifted members of the team, which coupled with our capability to actually design and manufacture our tracking units, has enabled us to build the capabilities into our system. This has enabled us to robustly identify and chronicle accidents and the events surrounding them.

Late last year, Steve Cotton joined the business in the newly formed role of insurance relations director. How geared for growth do you believe the insurance sector is for 2015?

The young driver sector is becoming reasonably mature in the adoption of telematics, however I believe that more mainstream market sectors will start to embrace the technology, albeit using different data sources.

What implications do vehicle manufacturer systems such as e-call and b-call pose for the telematics sector?

The availability of data from the vehicle manufacturers will allow more effective collaboration with their insurance partners and offers as many opportunities as it does risks.

What advice would you offer any bodyshop keen to understand the potential impact of telematics?

The net effect is that with the ever-continuing development of telematics, coupled with new crash preventative technology equipped vehicles, as standard, there will undoubtedly be fewer accidents, especially the more severe repairs.

You are operational in several countries throughout the world and have gained type approval for telecommunication systems in the United Arab Emarites. What does the global telematics market look like? What can be learnt from the UK’s experiences?

We have learned an enormous amount from the UK market and have taken some of that information and intelligence overseas, however each global market has different commercial and regularity pressures that ensures everyone has a specific requirement which we work towards.

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