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World’s largest fleet management service company leverages data to rise above competition

World’s largest fleet management service company leverages data to rise above competition

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The use of data has exploded in recent times and organisations must get a handle on it in order to manage it effectively. Michel Alsemgeest, CIO and CDO, LeasePlan, discusses how the company utilised Denodo‘s technology solution to streamline everything into one unified Global Data Hub and leverage its data assets more efficiently, with the aim of becoming the number one Car-as-a-Service company.

LeasePlan, the world’s largest fleet management service company, is working with Denodo, a leader in data virtualisation, with the aim of becoming the number one Car-as-a-Service company by providing more innovative services to its customers and enabling more revenue-generating activities.

To do so effectively, it needed to leverage its vast pool of data. However, this data was spread over a variety of siloed and heterogeneous data sources, making both the creation of new business models and complying with EU regulations challenging. To combat this, LeasePlan wanted to build a blueprint of its entire data ecosystem which would make it possible to visualise what data assets can be leveraged for specific purposes and identify missing data assets that should be a part of its data-driven initiatives.

LeasePlan used the Denodo Platform to build a logical data fabric architecture that sits at the heart of its global data hub. This efficiently knits all data together and ensures that it can be utilised for its intended purposes, The logical data fabric aggregates data from various source systems and serves as a single, integrated source of all the data needed by reporting applications.

We spoke to Michel Alsemgeest, CIO and CDO, LeasePlan, to find out more about the business challenges the company was facing, and how the Denodo platform offered the solution.

Can you tell us about your role and the scope of your responsibility at LeasePlan?

I joined LeasePlan as the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) in 2017. Before this, I held senior technology roles at KLM and TNT, implementing large-scale digital programmes to help grow revenues and improve the customer experience through innovative new products and services. 

Since starting at LeasePlan, the CDO role has grown to combine with that of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). I am therefore responsible for driving the company’s transformation into the world’s first fully digital Car-as-a-Service company from a business, process and technology point of view.

What business challenges were you looking to address ahead of your work with Denodo?

We are present in nearly 30 countries, with a fleet of over 1.8 million vehicles – and all of those vehicles have their own data. Traditionally, that data was spread over a variety of siloed and heterogeneous sources. This was our challenge, to streamline everything into one unified Global Data Hub. This would essentially be a blueprint of our entire data ecosystem, making it possible to visualise which data assets could be leveraged for specific purposes. The Global Data Hub also identifies missing data assets that can become part of data-driven initiatives.

We wanted the model to support our proactive and responsive data initiatives. The proactive data initiatives include the creation of new business models using data-driven technologies – such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Meanwhile, from a reactive perspective, the Global Data Hub also needed to connect all LeasePlan’s data assets to make them available for business reporting and advanced analytics.

Why did you select Denodo as the technology vendor?

It all started with our NextGen data strategy. Here, we developed the concept of a unifying platform that can be used by drivers and fleet managers across all LeasePlan countries. We wanted to ensure that the data was readily available to those who needed it and that it served the unique demands of the drivers and fleet managers in each and every country we operate in.

Denodo checked all of our boxes. It is a technology-agnostic platform, allowing us to connect to a wide variety of data sources and data consuming applications. As we built our Global Data Hub, we wanted to create a platform that can adapt to fast changing technology in the data space, so having an agnostic data platform was important for us. Here, we can easily switch technologies if necessary without impacting any business operations. Denodo’s virtual layer enables us to be as flexible as possible, while also allowing us to manage and efficiently govern the data.

How does the Denodo Platform enable you to remain a global leader in the automotive industry?

As a company, we decided that in order to knit our data together and make the most out it for our customers, we needed modern data storage that was scalable, reliable, efficient and less expensive. The result was the move to the AWS Cloud and incorporating the Denodo platform to form the core of our data fabric.

Denodo’s technology now sits at the heart of our Global Data Hub. It provides an abstraction layer to create a single, secure point of entry to the data ecosystem. By providing a centralised framework for data governance, the platform also protects our customers and ensures the highest level of data safety.

How has leveraging your vast pool of data meant you can deliver an innovative service to your customers on a global scale?

From a customer experience perspective, being able to mobilise all this data enables us to provide more innovative services. For example, it helps us to enable precise car-damage detection. We can gather data from internal and external systems to more accurately detect car damage and calculate maintenance charges and other related costs. This not only helps with passenger safety but also reduces the overall cost of any damage.

In addition, we can use this data to boost customer convenience. We can now predict far more accurately when a car may need to be serviced and steer our customers to preferred garages in time. We can even schedule appointments for them if they would like us to. Our analytical capabilities have been boosted so much that, by merging information from one car with the historical information from other cars, we can predict when a car needs urgent maintenance so that we can take preventive action.

How do you incorporate data-driven initiatives into your overall business strategy?

For us, it starts with having the right conversations — by seeing through all the complexities, finding common ground and establishing priorities on which everyone can agree. Data-driven culture starts at the very top. By taking a leadership position early and creating a NextGen data platform that can serve all business needs, we were able to build data into products and services, improving processes and creating value for customers.

On top of this, we also transformed the capabilities of LeasePlan within the data space itself. We made sure that data is embedded into business tools and gives fleet managers data-driven insights that are readily accessible and supported by statistical models generated by our team in the backend.

As CIO, what are some of the challenges you see in the automotive industry from a business/technology perspective and what advice can you offer to other CIOs in the way of this?

LeasePlan operates in an extraordinary market that has been strong and resilient for nearly 60 years. Looking ahead, we can achieve so much more. There are megatrends driving growth in our business such as mobility-as-a-service, electrification of fleets and the changing pattern of car ownership to car subscription services.

To capitalise on these opportunities, our strategy is to become the world’s first fully digital Car-as-a-Service company. Our digital approach will enable us to enter new market segments, delivering digital services at digital cost levels.

What do the next 12 months have in store for LeasePlan?

We are well on our way to implementing a fully digital business model that will accelerate further growth through scalable systems, harmonising our products and services and standardising the processes. Our digital team is fully focused on delivering NextGen solutions for our organisation and sunsetting the legacy systems. Data is playing an important role in this journey especially to be able to make sure we standardise our processes.

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