What the year 2020 was like. Wialon Division managers’ summary

22 January, 2021
Leonid Losich

The 2020 year was challenging for everyone. COVID-19 changed almost every business sphere dramatically, and telematics was no exception. Wialon's regional managers observe the telematics market and its changes in different regions of the world daily. We asked some of them to tell us what new trends they witnessed over the past year.

Head of International Business Development Center

Olga Filonchuk,
Head of International Business Development Center, Wialon Division

Describe your impressions of 2020 briefly. What changed in your work last year? 

It is definitely a weird year that has challenged all of us to reevaluate many things. The whole world was brought to a discomfort zone, myself included. We started working remotely, we started communicating online while maybe still living on the same street!

The world has shrunk to the size of our laptop. However, our hearts have expanded to the size of a universe.

We all were challenged professionally and personally (my kudos to all parents out there who had to ensure their kids’ online education in 2020), and I think we did just great.

What changed in the telematics market last year? 

I guess the answer “pretty much everything and still not that much at the same time” will sum it up nicely. After all, all we tried to do last year was to continue doing the best job in the craziest environment ever. 

Let’s see:

  • Our partners started working remotely just like us and had to adapt their processes in early 2020;
  • In approximately February-April 2020, the end customers from tourism, construction, and other industries started to either unsubscribe from telematics services or put their subscription on hold;
  • Our partners had to see where they can cut down costs and optimize the work time. Can they continue investing in marketing? Do they need to have that many people in-house? While they keep the workforce – what technicians and tech support guys can do in times of lockdown? Every business is unique and answers these questions differently; 
  • Even during lockdowns, many niches flourished (for example, deliveries), and others were still going with some safety measures applied (for example, transportation). Lockdowns have shown us that some things simply cannot be stopped or paused;

  • Hardware manufacturers were first challenged to do their shipments and faced several months of low to non-existent demand. Fortunately, it did not last long;
  • After initial lockdowns, some end customers got back, the others wanted to have a complimentary service. We were proud to see how Wialon partners set up healthier boundaries and reconsidered their debt dealing programs to make sure they support their clients while also keeping their own business in a sound shape;
  • Summertime was a well-deserved break, kind of 2020 style break but still enough to catch a breath, and now we’re entering winter again.

Back in March-April, nobody knew what to expect. Now, almost eight months later, we see that businesses have adapted. Surely, everyone is struggling to keep the current numbers active, and we see that system integrators are still connecting new fleets at an unprecedented speed. However, the unsubscription ratio was also higher last year than at any time before.

2020 is a test: why are your end customers paying for telematics? Is it because they were proven and showed value? Or was it an easy sale and it’s also an easy decision for them to decline the service, which they believe does not bring crucial value to them?

2020 is testing many partnerships, and it helps us see where we need to become better. Sometimes it’s a bitter pill to swallow, yet it’s so rewarding.

Could you remember one or two things (both positive and negative) which affected the telematics market in 2020?

I am really reluctant to speak about negative things. I am certain each and every one of us can recollect something negative, and my assistance is not required here.

What I do want to mention, however, is that COVID-19 speeded up social and political change in many countries: protests against police violence in Colombia, the US, and Nigeria, just to name a few, a democratic revolution in Sudan, explosion and political instability in Lebanon, the end of dictatorship in Mali, and many other events. Mankind is really getting serious about changing the world for the better, yet while in the transitional stage – businesses are affected, they had to adapt and face new challenges.

Better world

I do not see those things as negative changes – quite the contrary – because when democracies win, the economy gets a boost, people work on the edge of their productivity and create an incredibly beautiful new business realm. 

All the struggles we’re having in 2020 will pay off threefolds. 

Your forecast regarding the year 2021? 

I think most economies will try to navigate on the edge of being both caring to COVID-19 compromised people and making sure we all survive financially. The weaker the economy is, the less likely it is to enroll in strict quarantine measures. Lockdown, in my opinion, will be enrolled in the winter seasons at least until we have a proven and working vaccine. However, once spring or summer comes, economies will have to recuperate. The great news is that the world is so much more prepared now for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th wave of lockdowns.

Can you share a lesson or idea you learned from 2020?

I know it’s been hard, but I just want you to know that you are all doing amazing.

Just think about it: in a matter of weeks, we all switched to remote work; in a matter of a month, we made sure field workers have the alternative workload to do; in a matter of several months, we made sure we do safe installations, online presentations instead of onsite sessions and training; and in a matter of six months, most of us were able to restore more or less the same speed of growth (let us all forget about unsubscriptions for a second).

Ask yourself: did you think it was all possible in March 2020? Yet we did it. You did it!

We can handle it all. Take one step at a time, remember what matters the most: great service, great product, strong partnerships, and your team. The team above all.
Stay safe, be strong, be Gurtam! And the rest will come.

VP of Business Development

Anna Anistratova,
VP of Business Development (APAC), Wialon Division

Describe your impressions of 2020 briefly. What changed in your work last year? 

As my colleagues have already said, 2020 changed our personal and professional lives a lot. We had to adapt our daily operations and processes to align with those things that each day brought us in 2020: the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, uncertainty, and new rules of life and work.

What changed in the telematics market last year? 

Some of the fleet-running businesses had to put their operations on pause, the public transport sector was affected heavily (in some countries traveling of PUVs was reduced by 70-80%), as well as the businesses related to tourism such as rent-a-cars, hotel transportation (which is a quite common business for many Asian countries) and so on. These businesses are customers of our partners, so obviously, it affected telematics service providers too. 

At the same time, the logistics and delivery sector is getting more boost as people's habits of ordering something remotely increased (be that food, medicines, or anything else considered as essential goods/services). Moreover, fleet owners do understand how important it is now to optimize the operations as much as possible, run fleets more effectively, offer the best service among the competitors and avoid even minor delivery delays, save on fuel, and so on. These are savings which a business owner could ignore before, in our previous life, but not now. 

To sum it up, a lot of things have changed in telematics, yet it depends on the sphere and the market – some businesses are on pause, some are growing. The balance is more or less okay now and allows keeping the same positions.

Could you remember one or two things (both positive and negative) that affected the telematics market in 2020?

I believe positive things are new challenges that our telematics community faced last year, and namely how these challenges were transformed into opportunities and even advantages in the ways of developing the business, implementing the changes, restructuring, and communicating.

Another positive thing from my perspective is that companies started seeing more value in fleet management and optimization. 

The things I really miss are offline events and the mood these activities bring. Hope to catch up on this in 2021.

Your forecast regarding the year 2021? 

The only thing I know for sure is that we should get prepared even for a more dynamic and changeable future. Once the growth is stabilized we have to be sure that the business is ready to accept all the opportunities while being flexible and adaptable.

VP of Business Development (MENA)

Valeriya Zinkevich,
VP of Business Development (MENA), Wialon Division

Describe your impressions of 2020 briefly. What changed in your work last year? 

Last year advanced many business processes and showed us our growth zones. 

2020 is the year of complete digitalization and brave decisions. And I already see the results of these bold decisions across Gurtam and the Wialon community.

What changed in the telematics market last year? 

Businesses navigated the financial and operational challenges of coronavirus while rapidly addressing the customers’ needs. 

That is the most awesome thing about last year. The Wialon community and even companies beyond the community united their efforts to overcome the pandemic impact, and I’m incredibly proud of our team who managed to give our partner tools that allowed them to ease their position. And of course, I am proud of each and every partner who used those tools to react and re-organize the work quickly and open the new domains of their business development.

Could you remember one or two things (both positive and negative) that affected the telematics market in 2020?

The most positive things that warm my heart are the latest Telematics Dubai conference we hosted and GITEX 2020 exhibition. Our team had an immense pleasure to re-unite the community in the live format and the family-like atmosphere in Dubai. I miss such events, and I miss the face-to-face meetings with our partners. 

CIS Business Development Director

Denis Grebennikov,
CIS Business Development Director, Wialon Division

People say over and over again that the year 2020 was "not easy." I would say that it is a simplification. In the last decade, the world has been changing rapidly, and we have to adapt to these changes: we have to learn, master new technologies, enter new business niches. The last year of the past decade became the apotheosis of this trend. The year 2020 showed us what "change" really means. 

The ability to adapt has literally become a matter of survival.

Our business is a unique sphere of human activities. Telematics is a tool of changes. A telematics solution can both indicate the need for change and help implement it. That is why the demand for these services usually grows in crisis times. The situation is different now: massive lockdowns make transport stop, which means many business areas cease to function normally. Nevertheless, life has not come to a standstill as new business niches are appearing, partners are adapting to the situation and finding new opportunities. 

Perhaps, the most memorable event of 2020 is the absence of THE event. I am talking about the cancellation of the Telematics conference in Minsk. I would say that the second most important event is the launch of our new project Gurtam TV. We do our best to turn every episode into a mini-conference and help our partners get a little bit of a Minsk feel.

What happened in 2020 stays in 2020. I hope that all the bad things finished on December 31. Being more serious, we all have a lot of unfinished things to do, unfinished projects, and unclosed deals. Therefore, 2021 promises to be more successful than the previous year.

My wish for the community is short and straightforward: may the world, the lives and businesses of each of our partners and the community as a whole see the change for the better that we are waiting for so anxiously!

Want to know more about what 2020 brought for Gurtam? Read the following articles:

Gurtam 2020 events review: results against all odds

2020: the year that revealed our true capabilities

Leonid Losich
Leonid Losich
Leonid is a PR Manager at Gurtam who develops the strategy of the brand promotion to the new and existing markets. He also shapes and works on the company’s image as well as the images of its flagship products.


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