To help clients reduce fleet fueling costs, Comdata recognized the need to give truck drivers instant access to location-aware advice on the optimal fuel and rest locations along their routes.
Comdata worked with IBM Business Partner PointSource to build a location-aware mobile app in just twelve weeks. The solution uses IBM Cloudant database-as-a-service, hosted on IBM Cloud.
Launchedapp in beta in 12 weeks, improving time-to-market by months
Scales75 percent faster, enabling faster response to demand
Reduceddatabase management tasks by 80 percent
Business challenge story
Providing 24-hour guidance
Comdata gives fleet operators tools to analyze their fuel expenses and highlight opportunities to cut costs. However, with over 45 years of industry experience, the company knew that the best way of promoting efficient spend would be to put real-time decision support information directly in the hands of drivers.
Tom Pierce, Comdata Vice President Fleet IT, explains: “We wanted to help drivers make better fueling decisions, by giving them a real-time tool to plan the best place for their next stop.”
The aim was to create a next-generation application that would combine fleet telematics and GPS information with Comdata’s rich repository of data on fuel merchants, complete with real-time prices, 24 hours a day. The natural choice was a mobile app that could run on the drivers’ own devices, giving them the ability, when stopped, to review the best future fueling options based on their route and predicted journey time.
“We knew that the app would depend very heavily on location services, and we wanted to take advantage of an existing geo-spatial toolset so that we could move forward quickly,” says Pierce. “The business was keen to get the app completed as soon as possible.”
For speed and mobile application deployment, Comdata chose IBM MobileFirst® as its development platform, and selected IBM Business Partner, PointSource, to manage the development and design. “The PointSource team matched our aggressive commitment to rapid delivery – it was a great partnership,” says Pierce. “We knew we needed a NoSQL database that would scale easily, because we anticipated rapid take-up of the app. That brought us to IBM Cloudant – which had the added advantage of offering mature and sophisticated geo-spatial capabilities.”
IBM MobileFirst provided an open, comprehensive platform to build, test, run and manage Comdata’s new mobile app, improving time-to-market and enhancing mobile application governance and security.
Selecting IBM Cloudant gave Comdata a flexible, scalable, fully managed database in the cloud, backed by an expert technical team. Comdata deployed the IBM Cloudant solution on IBM Cloud infrastructure. “Choosing IBM Cloud meant we had all the major elements – cloud and software – from IBM, so we felt well positioned for success. As the IBM Cloudant team was so familiar with IBM Cloud, we felt confident that they would get the best performance from it.” says Pierce.
Using the IBM Cloud platform also meant that Comdata avoided the capital cost and delay of deploying its own infrastructure, simplifying the investment and accelerating time-to-value. Pierce adds: “With IBM Cloud, we don’t need to think about keeping the physical infrastructure running, so we can focus completely on building a great mobile app for the business."
Using the IBM technologies, Comdata and PointSource successfully delivered the first version of its mobile application software within just twelve weeks. “Our business sponsors were delighted to see the app come together as quickly as it did,” says Pierce. “The IBM Cloudant technical team played a big part, helping us quickly get up to speed with the platform.”
Keeping customers in the know
Using the new Comdata app, truck drivers can decide where to stop for the best-value fuel, based on their current position, route and timetable. The prices shown are personalized to each driver, automatically including discounts negotiated by their company, as well as personal preferences. Pierce says: “We can lead drivers to the location where their company will get the best price. Cloudant has an impressive built-in capability to analyze routes and location geometry, and the inclusion of the fourth dimension – time – means that the app will not direct drivers to fuel stops that will be closed by the time they reach them.”
The IBM Cloudant database-as-a-service approach was a major contributor to Comdata’s short time-to-market for the app. “We didn’t have to think about creating or modifying database schemas – we simply loaded our data,” says Pierce. “Today, we have no database management overhead, so we can focus on building out new functionality. We also benefit from the easy scalability of the Cloudant and IBM Cloud services.
“Developing and running apps on IBM Cloud means we don’t have to go through the usual proceurement and on-site installation procedures to scale - we can quickly scale the capacity up and down as needed, and that’s a great advantage with a new app, when you don’t know precisely how much usage you’ll see. We must maintain high quality of service as we scale, with no downtime, because this is a business-to-business environment. We can do that with Cloudant.”
When you need to build an app fast, minimizing the number of technologies can really help, as Pierce explains: “We expected to need a separate geo-spatial tool, but the built-in capabilities of the IBM Cloudant platform gave us all we needed, which streamlined the app development process considerably.”
Comdata provides innovative electronic payment solutions across industries, helping companies to manage spending and streamline operations. Comdata pioneered electronic payments for the trucking industry, providing comprehensive controls and insightful data for managing fuel and other fleet expenses.
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PointSource is an IBM Premier Business Partner with unparalleled expertise working with the full stack of IBM software solutions.