We're not disruptors, we're deployers: working with government to improve transport access for all
James Datson, Chief Revenue Officer, Mobli
My last post looked at how the transport sector is investing in software to drive down costs and improve competitiveness. I argued that until software is ubiquitous across the transport sector, MaaS will not deliver on its full potential. I ended with the point that software is foundational to MaaS success and we need to work harder to help digitalise the transport sector, one mode at a time.
Given the systemic complexity of the transport space, there's a looming question of what government authorities can do to push software and digital transformation forward? The answer is that they must take a system-wide view of digitalisation success. This is important as individual transport operators will continue to invest, and new technologies will continue to change how we travel; but the whole system needs to work well at a societal level.
What are some of the challenges that our policy makers face when deciding who to work with in the market?
The first challenge is understanding uncertainty and thinking about the technologies and trends that are around the corner. For this there are ‘futures’ tools to help. If you’re not familiar with futures thinking, consider the savvy backpacker who fills their bag with clothes that will work well in the rain and in the sun, on the beach and whilst skiing down the snowy piste. These travelers are ready for change whichever flight they hop on.
But what about the more urgent question of how government interfaces with the market in the short term. Who should government work with to deliver on their policy goals today? The answer here is to look at who is growing fast. Investors may see these fast movers as ‘disruptors’ but government authorities (at the national or local level) should embrace them as ‘deployers’: the change these companies make can also realise policy goals.
Perhaps Tesla is the most obvious example of a disruptor that government authorities are using to deploy change across the automotive sector. Electric Vehicle technology addresses several environmental policy goals and as a result regulation across the world is now cementing the role of EVs in our society. But this big-bang type of technology shift is not the only place government should look to. Equally impactful is for government authorities to work with businesses that can address the challenge of ‘accessibility’ - accessibility to technology, and accessibility to travel itself.
Here at Mobli we see accessibility as fundamental to the future of transport. For us accessibility resonates both with business strategy, and at consumer experience level. The ‘accessibility question’ is now front-of-mind across the transport ecosystem - from public transport to automotive, to micromobility and of course it is a big concern for travelers and passengers themselves.
From a business strategy perspective accessibility is about getting access to software that is affordable and effective in terms of helping transport operators better manage their fleets and better service the needs of their passengers. Software then sparks a blaze of benefits across a transport operator’s business model, and these benefits multiply as digitalisation spreads across the transport sector as a whole. To understand how fast this can happen it is useful to consider e-commerce and the success story of Shopify. Shopify has improved access to technology and unlocked new business models for millions of retailers. Mobli is forging a path to digitalise the transport sector by bulding a Shopify model for mobility operators.
Mobli is not only delivering access to affordable software - Mobli also has products that make it cheaper to travel by passing savings directly back to riders, making more transport services more accessible, for more people.
Driving down the cost of travel and improving reliability whilst improving the customer experience is what transport operators and passengers are demanding. Our government authorities, at national and local level, should look carefully at what software democratization can do for the market: this will deliver better transport for millions of passengers, now!