How did we get here? The CMS story, so far. 

How did Collision Management Systems start on its journey to being a connected vehicle data specialist?

CMS founder and CEO, Charles Smith, was an undergraduate when he had an idea that would see him start a multi-million-pound business working in the emerging field of connected vehicle data.

“I was researching vehicle collisions for my materials engineering course,” Charles explains.

“It became apparent that telematics providers didn’t know the details about the data that Insurers really needed – and equally Insurers weren’t clear on what data was available from connected vehicles.”

Lorry on road at sunset

What was the core idea around connected vehicle data?

Charles’ idea was to aggregate data from the growing number of connected vehicles and help fleet, logistics and insurance companies in the risk management of their remote workers, drivers, and clients.

By bringing together this complex multi-source data, CMS’ customers can identify incidents that need their immediate response.

And beyond that, determine employees who are higher risk, and in need of management and training focus.

To better manage the organisations overall risk profile.

Who were CMS’ first major customers?

On Christmas Eve 2016, CMS landed its first major client.

Global insurer Swiss Re, which realised the tangible benefits of CMS’ connected vehicle data offering for both cost management and customer service. 

Two months later, Tesco, the leading UK retailer, followed.

With a programme to use the connected vehicle data coupled to other inhouse data to better manage employee risk. 

When talking about these early days of CMS, Charles comments:

We went from real start-up bootstrapping to delivering our software on a global scale.”  

What was the main challenge CMS faced in the early days?

CMS’ rapid growth in the field of connected vehicle data brought a set of challenges common to many successful start-ups.

As Charles remembers:

“We were swinging between delivery and sales. It became clear that we didn’t have the bandwidth to do both properly.” 

How did CMS overcome this challenge?

CMS started with private investor funding, which saw its initial product development and market success.

But if this specialism in connected vehicle data and the benefits it brought to client’s risk management activities was to go further, additional investment for growth was needed. 

In July 2018, BGF, a leading UK based investment partner with a portfolio of £2bn, invested £1.25m to support CMS’ growth plans.

Charles chose BGF because of its:

“refreshingly different” approach. “BGF lets you get on with running your business,” he explains.

“BGF really bought into our journey – and we liked the fact that we could have a proper conversation with someone who wanted to go on that journey with us.”

What were the benefits of the investment from BGF?

BGF also introduced CMS to non-executive director (now non-executive Chairman) Stephen Lake.

You only grow a business on people and Stephen has helped us understand how to build a really effective team in a fast growth environment,” says Charles.

With this investment, CMS quickly made a range of new full-time hires, enabling it to continue to grow, adding customers and partners, and becoming a recognised global leader in connected vehicle data management.

The business now works with a host of household names around the world, including Eddie Stobart, Whirlpool, National Interstate Insurance, Zurich and Pioneer. 

As a connected vehicle data specialist, where will the future take CMS?

The foreseeable future sees CMS continue to rapidly grow, adding customers and partners in the US, as well as in the UK and other parts of the world. 

As its expertise in connected vehicle data management and how that data can be better used to support organisations risk management programmes, becomes more widely known, this pace of growth is set to continue, if not increase.  

Adapted from an article originally appearing in BGF’s “Ready for Business – A Year in Review”, published in Autumn 2019