Published on in TransportDigital Transformation

There’s a huge opportunity at hand for the transport industry.

Today’s innovative digital services are enabling transport operators to radically simplify the customer journey, making it possible for users to build their journey through one single platform.

And this doesn’t just mean users can find the right route: it also means they can pay for tickets, and make any necessary requests (e.g. first class, quiet carriage, etc.). It can even go beyond this, involving shopping and entertainment – all connected into the customer platform.

Unsurprisingly, this convenience is something that users are crying out for. According to our recent transport research, nearly three-quarters (72%) of consumers want to see investment to ‘modernise’ services – i.e. make them streamlined and simplified.

In this blog post, I’m going to explain how the transport industry can bring about the modernisation consumers are asking for: through public-private partnerships and collaboration.

Read on to find out more.

Share the data, see the benefit

There is no such thing as a closed transport network. Passengers are constantly switching in between different modes of transport, or from one operator to another, in the course of one journey.

In fact, passengers typically don’t distinguish between operators – they just want to get where they’re going as quickly as possible.

In this scenario, it’s incumbent upon transport organisations – both public and private – to understand their place in the ecosystem, and how their service links to those around them.

But this is only possible through integration, and crucially, the sharing of data.

To really understand the dynamics of how people move, we need information from across the whole network. This means anonymised passenger data should be exchanged on an open-source basis.

There are some concerns over this, and rightly so: data should be protected and personal information will always be kept private.

But helpful data should be shared. It might feel counter-intuitive, but giving away data won’t make your organisation less competitive – it will help you make better decisions.

The single journey view won’t help you understand the full end-to-end journey that your users are making. Without this understanding, it’s likely that operators will miss out on key innovations which suit the way people really travel.

And this is bad for passengers, and bad for business.

A joined-up system for a connected generation

It’s interesting to think about who exactly is looking for greater ease in the customer journey.

It’s definitely the younger generations, the ‘digital natives’, who are demanding these services.

It’s not good enough now to have different payment systems within the journey, and it’s no longer accepted that the traditional way is best.

If transport providers can’t keep up with the expectations of the mobile-first generation, they’ll look to disruptors to fulfil their needs (see the rise of ride-hailing apps as evidence of this).

This means operators need to collaborate in order to provide a seamless customer journey, in line with the demands of the younger generation.

Failing to do so might just result in the emergence of more disruptors.

Find a starting point

Our research shows 72% of people do not think they’ll see tech integration between public and private transport operators in the next five years.

This gives you some idea of how slow this process might be. There’s no silver bullet for this.

Transport operators need to start with a small level of collaboration and integration.

One way to begin is by building a platform that sits in the middle of the ecosystem. Say, for instance, a retail platform, that allows users to order their shopping while they are travelling through the network.

This takes one API integration to the retail platform, and it’s something that all operators can do, without yet having to take the step of fully integrating with each other.

Ideally, we’ll see full integration further down the line, enabling passengers to do their shopping and maybe even watch TV – all from within the transport app.

Showcase the vision for tomorrow’s transport

I opened this blog post by talking about the findings of our transport research. 72% of consumers want to see investment to ‘modernise’ services.

When I first read this stat, I found it quite surprising.

There’s been quite a lot of investment already – perhaps not on the same level as other sectors like finance or retail – but the transport sector has already made a serious commitment to modernisation.

It’s my suspicion that this stat reveals something about the way transport operators are communicating – or rather, not communicating.

Operators need to do more to showcase their vision.

While we need public-private partnerships, we also need to get better at talking about them.

Travel is complicated, but the journey is simple

With the growing number of transport modes, the journey from A to B is becoming more complicated. This means it’s exactly the right time for the customer journey to become more simple.

To ensure the public – especially the younger generations – are using public transport, operators need to provide a stress-free, connected customer experience.

Integration is at the heart of this. The multi-faceted nature of travel today means that no operator can manage alone – and those that try are only likely to miss out.

But for those operators who commit to collaboration, by sharing data and starting with small integrations, the opportunity is there.

If you want to learn more about the subject, read our blog on optimising citizen mobility here.

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