PeopleNet Releases Analysis on Mobile Devices in Trucking

July 29, 2013

By Jim Beach

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Saying they wanted to clarify some misconceptions in the marketplace regarding mobile devices, PeopleNet, Minnetonka, Minn., released an analysis comparing the mobile options of BYOD (bring your own device) and COPE (company-owned, personally enabled). Brian McLaughlin, president, PeopleNet said his company was concerned that some within the industry might think that BYOD meant you could use any type of mobile device for fleet management, mobile communications and other tasks, or that drivers could use their personal mobile devices for these tasks.

“Our key concern is supportability,” McLaughlin said. “There are a myriad of devices and the ability to support these devices becomes much more difficult.” Noting how often new mobile devices are introduced into the marketplace, he said a fleet might have 20 or more different devices to support over a two or three year period. “How do you make sure each and every device is up and running?” he asked.

For fleet management functions such as dispatch, hours-of-service or navigation, it is imperative that the link between the truck and the home office is secure and reliable, McLaughlin said. “These are mission critical systems, some dealing with driver compliance,” he noted. A device that is turned off, lost or otherwise inoperable might mean a driver doesn’t have his hours-of-service application up-to-date, or that he might miss an important dispatch.

“Another big issue,” with the BYOD model “is defining the line: which data belongs to the driver and which belongs to the fleet?” McLaughlin added. “For instance, if a driver loads a personal app that chews up 20 Megs of overages on the data plan,” is it the fleet’s responsibility or the driver’s?

With the COPE option, on the other hand, the fleet owns the device but the driver is allowed some personal use on the device. “We think COPE is an emerging model that deserves some consideration,” McLaughlin said. The dominant model in the marketplace now is fleet managed – the company owns the device and controls how the device is used, he said. “I don’t see that changing in the near term.”

McLaughlin acknowledges that mobile technologies are moving so rapidly, he expects to see more commercial-grade tablets and hand-helds in the marketplace. “I think in the future you are going to have a number of in-cab display options, whether they are proprietary or off-the-shelf.”

The analysis can be downloaded at


  1. 1. Kelly Frey [ August 01, 2013 @ 01:25PM ]

    What we've done with my company BigRoad is part of a larger trend that's sometimes referred to as the "consumerization" of business software. You can read a bit more about it at this Wikipedia article:

    In short, there are lots of products and services out there already for trucking companies, but they have traditionally been built using hardware and software that are specific to that market. These legacy systems are rarely designed to delight the drivers with the sort of simple and elegant interfaces that we take for granted in our everyday gadgets. There is a major effort underway across the whole enterprise software industry to make business software more beautiful and usable, and BigRoad is doing this for trucking.

    BigRoad's mobile apps are designed with the driver's needs first. Of course this means we make our apps visually attractive and easy to use, but there's more to it than that. We design our products with the mindset that the driver is a professional who deserves respect. We try to empower the driver to do a better job, keep more accurate logs of his or her daily activities, and communicate more effectively with customers and colleagues. We also think carefully about who owns the data we're collecting. Much of it belongs to the driver, and they can take it with them if they switch jobs. These are all fairly radical concepts in the world of trucking.


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