Caroline Thonnon and Thierry Degives of Nexus Communication, responsible for Global Fleet, Fleet Europe, Fleet Latam and Smart Mobility Management, have spoken to us about their experiences during the last weeks. With their deep knowledge of the industry, they give us an educated glimpse into the fleet and mobility future and which lasting changes the crisis might bring.
Nexus is a publisher of fleet and mobility information. How has the pandemic changed your business?
Thierry Degives: Obviously, the impact on our daily business has been huge. Moving people and goods from A to B, that’s the core of our content and events. The lockdown has virtually shut all of that down. That has greatly affected the fleet and mobility professionals who read our content and attend our events, and the companies that partner and advertise with us.
But the situation also has an upside. Early on, we saw that our Fleet Europe community was hungry for tailor-made news, advice and insight with regard to this unprecedented emergency. And that’s where we could rely on our strength as a conduit for industry-specific information. Right from the start, we’ve been offering information, forecasts and best-practice guidance via a variety of means, from opinion pieces to informal video chats.
Caroline Thonnon: In many ways, the crisis was a perfect storm, pushing us to accelerate the innovation of our business model. Some of those innovations were already ongoing, others are, well, new innovations. Take for instance our worldwide COVID-19 survey. Conducted in collaboration with fleet associations and other media across the world, it’s an essential measure of the impact of the crisis on the industry, and its response to it.
But perhaps the most crucial example is our annual Global Fleet Conference. In normal circumstances, we would have brought together hundreds of fleet professionals in Rome at the end of May. Of course, we had to cancel the physical event – but we decided to relaunch it as an entirely digital, virtual conference. Spread out over five weeks, using five different digital formats and featuring more than 50 speakers, we already have more than 500 participants. Which is amazing. That’s just one example of how we, as the world’s leading fleet and mobility media platform, want to be instrumental in turning this ‘New Normal’ into a great success for the entire industry.
Which business mobility trends have you seen emerging since the start of the COVID-19 crisis? And how will this influence business mobility going forward?
Caroline Thonnon: We see several trends continuing to accelerate, each in their own way. One is the drive towards smart mobility. In future, solutions will less self-evidently rely on shared and public transport – despite sanitation protocols, people will remain concerned about contagion for a while yet. Another trend that will continue is electrification, even more so than before. With oil prices down and insecurity up, you could expect a massive movement back to petrol and diesel. But the opposite is happening. Corporates are using the crisis to move even faster towards electrification – also because in the New Normal, there’ll be fewer and shorter trips, which makes EVs an increasingly optimal fit for corporate mobility needs. And of course, it helps companies achieve their CO2 and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) goals.
Thierry Degives: The trend towards more connectivity is also gaining traction, which is understandable, as the gains it can produce in terms of safety, cost, efficiency and mobility increasingly outweigh the receding concerns about personal privacy and data security. A new trend emerging from the current situation is a strong focus by corporates on HR and, more specifically, on employee well-being. Companies recognise that these are especially stressful times, and that helping their staff deal with this – via mindfulness training, for example – is beneficial for their personnel, and in the end also for the company itself.
In your opinion, what are the main things the fleet and mobility industry can do to get back on track?
Caroline Thonnon: Short and sweet, three things: think positive, stabilise Residual Values so you can think long-term, and accelerate innovation.
In your own experience, what has changed in these extraordinary times? What has stayed the same? And what has improved?
Thierry Degives: The major change is the breakthrough of home-working. We’ve been forced into it, but it’s proved very successful. Before, many corporates assumed that teamwork requires that the team works from one location. Our example, and that of many others, proves this is not the case.
Of course, this will have consequences for the future. Now we realise that we don’t need to be at the office every day, we’ll be doing less commuting. I think this will have many benefits for our work/life balance. This plays into what I said earlier: employee well-being will become an important consideration – both for the employer and the employee…
What does mobility mean for you personally?
Caroline Thonnon: It used to mean: getting there, in the best possible way. That could mean a car, or any combination of various mobility modes, from public transport to shared mobility. Safe, green, comfortable. Post COVID-19, it still means all of those things. But with an added consideration: Do I really have to make this trip? Yes, I’ll be doing a lot less miles, and a lot more video calls (laughs).
Thank you for your time, your support and the insightful interview, Ms. Thonnon and Mr. Degives!
As we #StartTheRestart with you, our interview series continues. We are very curious to see how mobility requirements in particularly important industries have changed in recent weeks. Stay tuned!