Founded in 1889 by brothers Édouard and André Michelin, the French company is one of the largest tire manufacturers in the world. Today, the multinational is much more than rubber, track triumphs and Bibendum, perhaps one of the most popular mascots in the global corporate world.
With a presence in the United States, Europe and Latin America, where it has 54,000 customers and 269,000 vehicles, the subsidiary Michelin Flotas Conectadas has chosen M2M DataGlobal as its regional partner. Its business development manager for Chile and Peru, Carlos Alfaro, explains why.
How did this Michelin business line emerge and how has it developed over time?
For more than 130 years, Michelin has been dedicated to innovate and build the best products in the tire industry, to create experiences for its customers in terms of safety, comfort and, basically, in the sale of products. We understand that we will not live 130 more years in this industry alone, so about 10 years ago this intention to explore other areas, such as service, appeared.
We believe that in the future everything will be sustainable. And we are not only referring to the environment, but also to ourselves as a company. If we don't grow and have a strong structure, we won't be able to work on future sustainability either. We are doing things that have to do with people, the planet, high quality materials and experiences, within which services appear, with a focus on technology, extracting data to transform it into information for the benefit of our customers.
Just as the Michelin Group has globally integrated various solid tire, industrial tire or belt conveyor companies, it did the same in Latin America with the Brazilian company Sascar in 2014. We took the know-how, with more than 260,000 pieces of equipment connected and 20 years of experience, to expand in the region, through Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru. In the United States we did the same with NexTraq, as well as in Europe with Masternaut. Between the three companies, we have around 1.2 million connected devices worldwide. Today we are in the process of unifying them to become a single company in the future.
Does it have to do with an added value given by the company itself?
When we talk about service, it is another kind of concept, there is a change of mentality, although supported by the sales force. During these 130 years, Michelin has had a very particular way of selling its products, because -as customers recognize- we have a high initial cost, but in the long term we are the cheapest, because we offer the best performance and generate fuel savings, among other attributes. In order to sell this high initial cost product, we do consultative selling, whereby we enter into the customer's processes. We sell tires, but we also bring a new value offer to integrate into the product portfolio.
What would you recognize as the main technological tool you use?
Clearly, our strength lies in consultative sales, support and after-sales work. To achieve all this, we surround ourselves with partner companies that provide us with good service. This is fundamental to develop our work. We are not a telecommunications company, but we depend on them to carry out our work, although we are the visible face. Just as we provide support to the client, we make a very careful survey of the companies we work with. Our collaborators are an important part of this process.
When we talk about support, we need a great IT back-up that is consistent and works on developments. When we arrive in the countries, we evaluate the best services available, how are the communications, i.e. how is the 2G network, for example. It is very important to decide between atelcoor a multi-operator distributor, because it helps us in coverage. One of the main things we expect from a strategic provider is that they give us good support.
How did the relationship with M2M DataGlobal start?
We did not make a "match" initially looking for the "telco" part. Due to communication and coverage issues, it was not possible to implement the structure that the parent company had in Brazil, because each country has its own particularities in the communication network, equipment, hardware or the market itself. Kalaam, one of the global companies from which we buy equipment, has M2M DataGlobal as its distributor in Chile. In terms of sustainability, we work to do reverse logistics, that is, particularly in the refurbishment of hardware to avoid generating passive material, to update them and that they enter the service chain. This generates savings and sustainability. In addition, it is a more efficienttelcoprovider for us, offering us multi-operator chips and working with different companies in the market. That is when we identified that it was the best option to provide our customers with greater coverage. In addition, we evaluated it in aspects such as its after-sales service and speed of attention during a trial period, which was satisfactory. Our first approaches were in 2018.
What type of cards provided by M2M DataGlobal does Michelin Connected Fleets occupy?
M2M DataGlobal gives us the opportunity to have a varied pool of SIM cards according to our needs. Basically, we use the multi-operator and one with roaming, which is forcross bordercustomers. Considering the relationship with M2M DataGlobal and its good service, we went further and internally proposed from Chile a Latin American alliance for the provision of SIM cards to improve our costs, which prospered quite well in 2021.
What has been the differentiating element of M2M DataGlobal with respect to the competition?
Like any rapprochement or relationship, there is always a process of getting to know each other first. One of the first things we were looking for was a company that was multi-operator. After that, we worked on our needs, what we needed as a platform, that our operations manager had an account manager that would meet their needs and also be up to par with what we evaluated in our collaborators. After this adjustment period, M2M DataGlobal gave us enough experience of us as a client that, besides having a standard, they have been improving over time. This speaks of the support that M2M DataGlobal provides to its clients. The evaluation is positive.
When we talk about technology, we cannot always talk about "optimal", because there are always factors that influence and many times they are not even in our hands or in those of M2M DataGlobal, but in those of other providers. Clearly, there is an evolution. When I talk about a relationship, there is always evolution, negative or positive. At M2M DataGlobal, there has always been an openness to talk and reach agreements. And that is very important.
As this is a new line of business for Michelin that is entering the market, we need partners to be with us on this path, to grow in the market. This is not a project to experiment, it is a project with a firm footing and we hope that our partners will also grow with us. It is a long-term project and that is why we need partners like M2M DataGlobal to accompany us on this path of growth that we hope to have in Chile.