The issue with that, Otto Car realised, was that drivers would simply put on their best performance for the test, which would not translate to how they would drive in normal circumstances. “We installed telematics devices in our vehicles”, continued Gurinder, “to get the data that would provide an insight into how they were driving on the roads.”
Again, however, the utility of that data was highly limited. Without any context, there was no way of knowing why a driver was braking suddenly, for instance. “Were they braking because someone had stepped into the road?” Gurinder asked. “Or were they braking in that way because they hadn’t been paying attention?”
A New Standard in Safety
The innovative solution Otto Car devised was enabled by technology. They installed cameras in every vehicle so they could see what drivers were doing when the telematic system recorded spikes in braking, speed, or other instances of unusual driving. To monitor all that data and footage, however, was an insurmountable task. At least, it was until the introduction of AI.
“We effectively had 5,000 eyes watching our drivers live”, Gurinder shared, “but the combined mileage of our fleet equates to circling the globe every 2 hours. So, we invested in AI that would pick up on drivers who were distracted, falling asleep, or smoking, for example.”
Otto Car’s fascinating application of AI has allowed them to provide an unprecedented level of safety within their industry. If their AI identifies a dangerous driver, it notifies Gurinder’s team so they can reach out and try to coach the individual. Inevitably, however, some drivers ignore that warning, and in that case, Otto Car can then revoke their insurance, ensuring that dangerous drivers are removed from the roads before they can cause any harm.
Boosting Business Performance and Growth
This revolutionary approach to safety has not only furthered Otto Car’s pursuit of safety, but also turbocharged the company’s growth. “It’s usually around £2,500 to insure a vehicle in our industry”, Gurinder established, “but our enhanced risk management means we can reduce that to below £1,200.”
With their premiums more than halved, Otto Car began to accelerate away from their competitors at an alarming rate. “Once you multiply that by all the cars you have, it starts to give you a much better level of performance”, Gurinder shared. “And that meant the banks would lend us more money to invest in growth because we were the best performing business in our sector.”
Otto Car is currently the market leader in the car rental industry, with a staggering 50% market share. AI has played a significant role in that success, but Gurinder was keen to stress that it was not the driving force.
“Everything was driven by the message of bringing our loved ones home safely”, he asserted, “and the internal ethos of the business was to make our mothers proud. But I do think the tech has been so important, to the extent that, without it, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
Otto Car’s journey is a clear illustration of how AI can provide a business with a competitive advantage, but it’s important to remember that that came as more of a biproduct than anything else. Otto Car didn’t decide to implement AI because they thought it would improve their P&L; they implemented it because they believed it would further their mission to make their service the safest it could be. The success the business experienced thereafter was purely organic, and shows that technology, like AI, is best used to improve service quality, rather than directly for financial gain.
Gurinder rounded off his case study with his Three Things – three pieces of actionable advice you can implement to improve your business, today: