What’s your mobility challenge?

September 23, 2019 Jean-Marie Vial

From commuter to public authority – via mobility provider and energy supplier – these are the questions you should be asking.

When it comes to mobility, we may know the direction of travel but not necessarily how to get there nor the questions to ask along the way.

From tram to train, from bus to bicycle, how do we combine modes of transport to create journeys that can be planned, booked and paid for seamlessly?

Consider the commuter. First, she needs to arrange a trip. She may need to share a car, a bike or a scooter. Or perhaps she will choose to use more conventional public transport: train, bus or tram. Either way, she will need to get a ticket or confirm a booking. She might need to park a car, pay a toll or seek help and advice from a customer care desk. Without considering other scenarios, we have already accounted for six modes of transport plus the provision of ticketing, tolling and customer care services

As we noted in my previous post Mobility Progress in 2019: What We Know So Far... the inexorable rise of the urban dweller means we are not in the business of reducing transport flows but making those flows more efficient.

The picture painted above is evidence, if ever needed, that mobility is an ecosystem play. And it raises a series of issues for those with interlocking roles. In short, the question we are asking in this post is this: What is your mobility challenge?

Let’s consider that question through the eyes of five key stakeholders:

1. Citizens / commuters / consumers

Several years ago, a survey across 19 major European cities showed that 43% of commuters agreed with the statement, “public transport provision will heavily affect my choice(s) of where to live and work.” For public transport provision then, read mobility now. When it comes to today’s urban commuter considerations turn not only to cost, availability and frequency but to pollution, congestion and carbon footprint. Considerations turn, too, to whether to share, rent or pool provision rather than own a vehicle.

Finally, the consumer is asking when is the right time to make the move. How, in other words, do they prevent opting for soon-to-be obsolete technology or services? How do ensure they choose VHS and not Betamax?

2. Mobility providers (including OEMs)

The world of the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) was once simple. They were car makers or they made parts for other car makers. Today they join public transport operators in becoming service providers, making their vehicles available to share or rent. And once accustomed to their new role, OEMs – alongside more traditional mobility providers – must consider five issues, at least.

First, they must work out how they respond to the shift to electric vehicles (EVs). Do they commit fully or operate a dual EV / combustion engine approach? Second, how do they meet customer experience expectations of users who have not just chosen to go digital first, but smartphone first?

Third, how do mobility providers interact? Should they team up and offer end-to-end access or should they ring fence their unique place in the market? Fourth, and related, should they share their data (customer behaviour, traffic flows and so on) or keep this valuable intellectual property to themselves? Fifth, and finally, how do they comply with the rules and regulations of the cities in which they operate?

3. Energy suppliers

Like the mobility providers, the shift to electric looms large for energy suppliers. How do they become part of the EV-charging future market? How do they cater for charging within the city, in homes and on the road? How do they meet high demand while use incentives and nudges to smooth out peaks and troughs of usage? Finally, how do they add value by delivering ‘smart utilities’ for smart cities?

4. Telecoms suppliers

On one level telecoms are in a very strong position. Without the smartphone and connectivity there is no smart city, no mobility. Without a 5G network, there is no autonomous vehicle. Questions remain however. Not least, how do they best monetise their service? Who do they team up with and who do they avoid? And how do they deliver a reliable, uninterrupted service upon which future mobility depends?

5. Public authorities

Where other stakeholders can provide services that speak to a subset of the urban population, public authorities must provide for all. This places them in a uniquely challenging position. How, in other words, do they provide mobility as a public service? They must define rules and regulations, address pollution and other environmental concerns, create more efficient traffic flows, and ensure infrastructure meets need. They also have a duty to ensure that mobility works for the digitally disenfranchised. They can leave nobody behind. In that, they perhaps face the biggest issue of all.

At Conduent, we spend every day asking questions like those I’ve posed above. And we believe mobility can only be truly realised if delivered as-a-service. That requires radical thinking front- and back-end.

The first step for all stakeholders is understanding your own challenge – or set of challenges.


Jean-Marie Vial will be attending Autonomy & The Urban Mobility Summit on 16-17 October in Paris. To connect with Jean-Marie and his colleagues at the event, email: jean-marie.vial@conduent.com #Autonomy2019

About the Author

Jean-Marie Vial is Conduent's Automotive Senior Expert and will be attending Autonomy & The Urban Mobility Summit on 16-17 October in Paris. To connect with Jean-Marie and his colleagues at the event, email: jean-marie.vial@conduent.com

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