At the beginning of this year, we reached an important milestone of having 100 000 tracking devices connected to the Mapon platform. Our partner Tracksys from Norway was the one who connected the 100 000th device, so we decided to invite the company CTO Frank Strand to a conversation about his experience in the telematics business, the importance of building partnerships and the changes the pandemic has brought to the market.

How are you and Tracksys doing in these turbulent times?

Tracksys is going quite good actually. Since the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of companies are looking for ways to optimise their fleets and management process, so we have had a lot to do, which means that both our team and the business is growing fast. 

This year we have already connected around 2500 tracking devices to our systems and are on our way to reach our target for this year which is 40 000 units. Also, we’ve recently been joined by a sales team who have long experience in this industry, so we have a positive outlook for the future.

Tell us a bit more about yourself and the company! When and how did you get into the telematics business?

During my career, I’ve always worked on developing and in 2009 I decided to start a business in telematics. I found out that telematics gets more relevant information from the tracking device and it uses direct information from the vehicle, rather than a device that measures movements and then depends on an algorithm to interpret it.

I saw that telematics data is far more reliable and precise than data from a more basic vehicle tracking system and this is why I wanted to go for telematics. 

Back then, we started a cooperation with a company, but after a while, we saw that their system didn’t fully meet our needs and started looking for a new platform that we could use.

How did Tracksys and Mapon cooperation start?

I think it was 2016 when we met the Mapon representative at the telematics exhibition in Hannover. Our first contact was Armands, who’s now the branch development manager. We had a small chat – I think it was 10 minutes or something -, he told us about you and showed us your platform. Then I called him a couple of months later. We had another chat and this time we found out that we have several things in common and could do business together.

After that, we decided to connect a few devices to your platform to see how it worked. Three months later, we went to Riga, where I met the rest of the Mapon team – after that visit, we decided to start the collaboration and today you can see the result of it.

What were those things you found that we have in common?

We have the same idea of being innovative and staying on top of the market. We always look forward and never stop developing and improving the platform. It’s a continuous search for new business models and features that could be added to the product that results in market-relevant platform improvements.

Is there a lot of competition in the Norwegian market? What does it take to stand out?

There are quite many businesses that offer the same or similar fleet management solutions and the most popular is the driver journal that is used to calculate the tax returns. However, we’ve decided to focus on offering solutions for fleets with trucks because there’s no such great competition in this area in Norway. Besides, most companies also have light vehicles, which means we still get to do the installations on this type of vehicles that only need the driver journal and other basic features. 

If we talk about the market itself, there are a lot of businesses who concentrate only on offering a specific solution and that is why most companies usually have a driver journal from one supplier, tachograph solutions from another, etc. In comparison, our main strength is that we can offer all those features in one place – we have Mapon fleet management and asset tracking solutions, Tachogram data analysis software and our own Smart system for toll road management working as a unified solution. Thus,

when we offer a complete package, clients can quit using multiple systems and switch to using just one.

This is important for bigger companies because they want to optimise as many operations as possible that would allow them to drive more efficiently, save time and have a higher return on investment (ROI).

How do you use the Mapon platform to meet your business needs?

We use a lot of API integrations because we also have our own tools, for example, the Smart system for toll road management that I already mentioned. By having the integration options, we can easily transfer the necessary data from the Mapon platform to our system.

How did you feel when you learned that Tracksys has been the one to connect the 100 000th tracking device to the Mapon platform?

At first, I saw the message on Mapon Facebook and I felt happy because I know that when you grow, we grow too. Later I got a call from Andris (Mapon co-CEO Andris Dzudzilo – editor’s note). I remember I was in the car, coming back from the installation when he said “I have a surprise for you – you were the one who connected the 100 000th device to the Mapon platform!” and I was like “Wow, that’s great! ”.

I had to share this great news with the rest of the team, of course.

We see this milestone as proof of our growth and that gives us a signal that we’re doing the right thing. 

You said “when you grow, we grow” which makes me believe you find having a strong partnership being an important aspect of your business success. Is that so?

Yes, I think it’s important because, as I said, when you grow, we have a potential for growth as well. You work on developing more features for the platform which gives us the possibility to offer our potential and existing clients even more functionality within one system. It’s like a never-ending cycle – when you expand the business, you get more clients, thus need more people to do the development which again adds more functionality to the platform, gets you more leads, etc. 

What are the things you value the most about the partnership with Mapon?

It’s the total package because you offer much more than just the basics. Yes, you have the driver journal and so do plenty of other companies. But then we see that there’s also vehicle inspection, Tachogram with its tachograph data download and analysis features, asset tracking with BLE tags, which only a few other businesses have, etc. This makes us want to use the platform and offer it to others as well. As I see,

a good partnership like the one we have gives us all of these things. We don’t need to look for multiple partners when we just can have one good. That’s the main and the most important thing for us.

Another important thing is that you have a lot of partners all around the world – from Australia to Africa and the Americas. That’s quite big actually, because you’re helping businesses and drivers in Norway, Germany, South America or elsewhere to get their job done.

You already mentioned that this promises to be a good year for Tracksys. Do you think that the telematics market will also continue to grow?

We see that there’s a lot of potential for the market growth as there are more clients and potential clients who are giving more focus to telematics solutions this year.

Companies now more than ever see the added value of having fleet management and asset tracking solutions as part of their business operations.

They understand that technology can help them to oversee their fleets more easily, keep track of the routes, collect data from vehicles and, eventually, optimise the fleet management process.

With the ever-growing amount of work, how do you recharge your batteries to keep going towards your goals?

The main principle for me is to disconnect the phone for some hours a day and do something else. Whatever I do, my main goal is to have a happy private life.

For me, it’s travelling with my family – both locally and abroad. We love hiking in the mountains and in the summertime, we travel out to the sea in our boat. I also enjoy cooking.

What would be your advice to anyone who is just starting their telematics business or looking for a partner?

Find a system that stands out in the market in terms of functionality and usability like Mapon does.