PeopleNet lays out product roadmap

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At PeopleNet’s 2008 User Conference this week in Naples, Fla., company executives announced a new approach for future software releases from the fast-growing onboard computing and mobile communications provider.

Starting this year, PeopleNet will bundle new software releases into one of three time periods – summer, fall and winter – for all of its in-cab hardware options and Web-based software platforms.

The first summer 2008 release came out on Friday, Aug. 1. The release included new state regulations for its eDriver Logs hours-of-service application. The company also added eDriver Logs, along with a graphical log summary, to its BLU in-cab touchscreen display. Other updates to BLU included Pacos geofencing, support for advanced applications and a driver interface in French, said Brian McLaughlin, chief operating officer.

PeopleNet is scheduling another “Summer Plus” release in about a month, McLaughlin said. The forthcoming release will include a tethered trailer-tracking product called Wi-VAN, an in-cab system for scanning documents, and a customizable “dashboard” report engine for its Web-based user interface, the PeopleNet Fleet Manager (PFM). In-cab navigation also will be available on BLU later this summer via a partnership with Maptuit, McLaughlin said.

In the fall 2008 release, PeopleNet is launching text-to-speech functionality for BLU, as well as new enhancements for BLU’s driver/user interface such as shortcuts and themes. The fall release also will include driver training videos and a new J1939-compatible version of PerformX, PeopleNet’s vehicle and driver performance reporting tool, said Craig Dillon, chief technology officer. The J1939 is the new database standard for the electronics in 2007 tractors.

Looking toward the future, PeopleNet will be developing a new set of business intelligence tools called Logistics Intelligence. The first release, set for later this year, will give users the ability to launch dashboards and scorecards with drill-down capabilities in PFM. To develop the dashboard, the company is using a third-party business intelligence software system called Business Objects.

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Future releases will be focused on using predictive analytics to use the characteristics of good and bad drivers to predict future behaviors such as out-of-route miles, accidents and poor fuel economy, Dillon said. “I think it is going to be an exciting trend for us,” he said.

The Chaska, Minn.-based company has more than 1,500 customers and 70,000 units in the field. Last year, the company added 115 new customers, 31 percent of which came from competitors, McLaughlin said. PeopleNet reinvests about 15 percent of revenues back in the business, primarily in new technology and customer support, he added.

“We feel very good about our financial position,” McLaughlin said.