Dr. Bjorn Mercer

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By Dr. Bjorn Mercer
Program Director, Communication, Humanities, Music, Philosophy, Religion and World Languages Programs, American Public University

Everyone wants innovation. Every company and institution tries to achieve innovation by investing a great deal of time and money to develop groundbreaking innovation that moves our lives and society forward in leaps and bounds.

However, there is another type of innovation. In an excellent article in Fast Company, author and leadership consultant Kaihan Krippendorff talks about Fleet Advantage’s practical and ingenious approach to innovation and saving money for its customers.

How Fleet Advantage Has Used Big Data for Innovation

Fleet Advantage, a Florida trucking technology company, uses data collected by trucks and driver performance to save money through improved fuel economy, reducing maintenance, improving the reliability of the equipment and increased driver utilization. In addition, Fleet Advantage includes strategic options that include a holistic view of a company’s health and efficiency, business lifecycle cost analysis, maintenance and repair cost analysis, lease versus buy analysis, and comparative cost analysis.

This is an interesting and practical example of innovation. Collecting data and making data-driven decisions is nothing new and the products the company provides the industry are greatly needed. Technically, each trucking company can keep track of its own data, but they are usually so focused on their central product that they lose the ability to critically self-analyze.

A Fleet Advantage statement articulates this philosophy: “You can’t make a decision based on what you don’t know. Raw data comprised of disparate facts, or random inputs in and of themselves hold little value. Conclusions based on data in its raw form will lead to flawed decisions based on incomplete data sets.”

Why Fleet Advantage’s Innovative Practices Serve as a Model for Other Businesses

Other companies could use Fleet Advantage’s model to create their own innovations. Consider the following questions:

  • What type of data can you collect that will improve your core product(s)? Can this data be used to create more effective practices in your company?
  • Does your company have the internal infrastructure to collect this data cleanly?
  • Does your company have the staff who will know what to do with this data?
  • Does your company have the leadership to change policies, products or direction because of the innovative use of data?
  • Is your company open to innovation that is not flashy or exciting?

As you ponder these questions, think about what Krippendorff advises: “Remember that an innovation not adopted has no value and that you can generate value by getting people to use technology already invented. Don’t blindly bet your company’s research dollars against your competitors. Look around the periphery, look at the content in which your product is being used and see how you can move into a place where others are not looking.”

About the Author

Dr. Bjorn Mercer is a Program Director at American Public University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Missouri State University, a master’s and doctorate in music from the University of Arizona, and an M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix. He writes about leadership, management and why the humanities and liberal arts are critical to career success. Dr. Mercer also writes children’s music.