Auto tech conversations: An interview with Derive’s CTO

Software in the fleet industry is advancing at an incredible rate, and our technology team is always hard at work delivering a quality product. 

We went behind the scenes and sat down with our CTO, Marco Della Torre, to discuss Derive’s history, its future, and technology trends in the fleet industry he’s most excited about and how we can adapt to those trends.

Take a peek behind the Derive curtain with us by seeing what Marco had to say in his interview.  

Marco Della Torre headshot

Derive: How do you sum up what Derive Systems does?

Marco: Derive upgrades vehicles on the road, making them smarter, lowering their carbon footprint, and making them safer. Vehicles are produced with generic software that is common across every vehicle. Imagine if every iPhone shipped with the same set of apps, and you could never change that over time! 

Well, Derive allows vehicle owners to upgrade their vehicles, making them best for how they are actually used. Whether it’s increased safety, reduced carbon footprint, faster or perhaps more conservative acceleration, Derive is bringing a new generation of personalization to the automotive industry.

How is Derive different from its competitors?

While Derive provides all the tracking, driving and utilization data that fleets need, we are able to go a step further and shift the policy of the fleet into the operating code of the vehicle. Rather than asking drivers to never exceed 90 miles per hour because that materially reduces the number and severity of collisions, Derive is able to install a top speed and guarantee that benefit for the fleet 24/7.

Derive goes beyond data collection, and makes the vehicle drive the results the fleet wants.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the fleet industry right now? 

The biggest challenge facing the fleet industry right now is the disconnect between the cost of traditional telematics, and the work it takes to turn that cost into even inconsistent results.

Fleets spend huge amounts to harvest data, only to be left with driver coaching to turn the data into results. Driver turnover means compliance turnover, so there is a never-ending struggle between efforts to increase compliance and drivers being out of compliance or too new to know any better.

I think another challenge in the fleet industry is that there is a struggle to turn a known level of spend into a known level of improvement. 

Installing and maintaining telematics comes with a huge cost to a fleet, but the results are only as good as driver compliance. A product should deliver a known benefit, and fleet’s are looking for solutions that can guarantee consistent improvement, rather than creating a data reporting task or relying on driver coaching.

How are customers using Derive to improve fleet operations?

Derive’s customers see immediate and long term benefits from Active Vehicle Management. The fuel savings, carbon footprint reduction, and safety benefits begin at the moment of installation, which is a distinct advantage over relying on telematics alone.

Customers have also used Derive’s Active Vehicle Management solution to realize incredible improvements in fleet-wide productivity, better track vehicles that are underutilized, lost or stolen, and to improve the maintenance profile of a vehicle from the moment of upfit. 

Shifting gears in a car

What are the benefits of Derive for fleet drivers? 

While Active Vehicle Management directly reduces a fleet’s costs, and lowers its carbon footprint, perhaps the greatest impact to drivers directly is on their safety. We all want drivers getting home safely each day. While operational KPIs like their number of stops per day may encourage them to drive dangerously, Derive allows fleets to manage their Drivers’ safety through the vehicle itself, and ensure they get home safely.

What are the long-term results for fleets that incorporate telematics software?

In the long term, fleets that use Active Vehicle Management will notice that the accumulation of fuel savings becomes a significant total cost reduction. Similarly, the total reduction in harmful emissions means a fleet can achieve significant reductions in accumulated environmental impact over time.

Derive’s benefits, whether reduction in cost, carbon footprint or safety incidents, start day one but add up to a huge accumulated result in the long term.

What excites you most about the functionality of Derive’s software?

I am most excited about how empowering Derive’s technology is to fleets. While, in the past, fleets have had to simply take what the OEM gave them, they can now take charge and make their vehicles drive exactly to their policies. This is also empowering for drivers, since they know their vehicles will only drive in compliance, so they can focus on their customers and missions with a lot less to concern themselves with inside the cabin.

What’s next for Derive?

Since Derive is the only company offering Active Vehicle Management to fleets, demand has been extraordinary. We want to make sure every fleet is able to take advantage of the unique capability to make their vehicles mission-specific, so we are busy rolling the technology out to some of the largest and most influential fleets in the USA. 

We have products for every size of fleet, so we are focused on getting access to as many fleets as possible. While we roll the technology out, we also have a rich roadmap of new features that offer industry-exclusive benefits through our unique ability to upgrade vehicle software. Stay tuned!

What auto technology do you have your eye on that could be beneficial to Derive’s customers?

I am excited about the growing trend towards electric vehicles. Derive’s technology applies equally to making electric vehicles safer, less expensive in maintenance costs, and matched to each fleet’s mission. As fleets start to look at electric solutions in the future, Derive will be there to ensure Active Vehicle Management is available to manage vehicles rather than coaching drivers.

Marco Della Torre speaking

You recently spoke at Google Next and Field Service USA, can you tell us why those conferences are important to Derive and what you learned while attending?

Google has been a great partner in the development of our technology platform, and it was an honor to be asked to present our product platform as a case study at their flagship conference. At Field Service USA, we were able to connect directly to customers and hear about the ways in which Active Vehicle Management could solve either their immediate needs or areas where driver coaching has fallen short.

These conferences are great examples of Derive connecting with our industry, whether that be technology partners or current and future customers. Staying connected to the latest technology in the industry ensures Derive stays in a leadership position. 

A great example of this is our Distracted Driver Prevention solution. While some providers are offering expensive additional hardware, which also means an intrusive installation schedule, Derive has created a solution that can be deployed via software, over the air. 

Attending and presenting at customer events like Field Service USA ensures that we stay current with the latest opportunities for our solutions to meet emerging customer needs.

What’s your favorite thing about being a part of Derive?

My favorite aspect of Derive is working with a world class team to save lives on the road. We have an incredibly talented organization, we design our products entirely in-house from devices to cloud, and at the end of the day we ensure Drivers make it safely home to their families after a day that delivered even more value. 

When technology is cutting edge, helps a business succeed, and also saves lives out there, it's really something to be passionate about. 

Get to know Marco and his wealth of experience by connecting on LinkedIn