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An innovation lab – not a burden

First publishedin ITS International
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Travellers want to be able to book multimodal journeys easily – and to be informed of problems and alternatives as they go. Adam Roark might just be able to help, finds Ben Spencer

The global shift in transportation towards members of the public wanting access to multimodal journeys is rapidly changing how people pay and plan ahead. Buying tickets from a machine and dealing with the frustration of discovering your train is cancelled is a scenario commuters want to avoid through technology’s ability to pre-warn them and provide an alternative route.

IT services company DXC Technology believes it has a solution to help, preparing its clients – such as government agencies, airlines and railway companies - to meet user demand and equipping them with the right level of cybersecurity.

DXC’s Connected Transportation Platform is based on a series of ‘micro services’, designed to allow an IT department to add new functionality to a phone - such as enabling a user to buy a ticket on a multimodal journey - in a matter of days.

Innovation labs

The firm aims to equip IT departments as ‘innovation labs’ that can deliver products faster and become a more strategic part of their business – rather than being considered a burden. Speaking at Intertraffic 2018 in Amsterdam, DXC’s general manager for travel and transportation, Adam Roark, says: “It’s not necessarily about driving down IT costs anymore - it’s about delivering faster features and functions and new services. Anybody who is focused on driving down the IT costs is not really focusing on ‘how do I change my business model, how do I improve my ecosystem or my customer’s?’.”

In traffic enforcement, for example, the trend is really about predictability: “How do I predict what the traffic patterns are going to be ahead of time?” When it comes to travel disruption, Roark specifies that the priority needs to be on how to get commuters back on their journey quickly. “For example, in cities, as soon as I can give you information that says ‘avoid this road or part of a journey, go a different way’, I have now provided you with a more pleasurable [experience]. Whereas if you just have to sit here in traffic all day because there’s been an accident and you don’t know any other way to go you’re not going to be very happy.”

Meanwhile, commuters increasingly want the ability to purchase a single ticket for a multimodal journey. “In the future, what we’re seeing a big trend in is multimodal ticket purchase – but, more importantly, multimodal viability to that journey”, Roark says.

Users want to use their smartphones as a contactless tap-in/tap-out journey card.

User experience

Roark refers to the potential benefits of providing airports with the ability to share information with customs staff by the hour - of how many flights are coming in and how many passengers there are on those planes - enabling airports to increase staff at border control to move people through faster.

“Take that wait time down from an hour to five minutes,” he enthuses. “Or even better, have the capability through a smartphone to know that I am on that journey, I’ve now reached the airport, I can clear my way through in a faster way. It’s a big trend because more people are travelling by air and more people have smartphones.”

The ‘user experience’ aspect can go further, he suggests, by perhaps supplying information for coffee shops on train platforms, allowing travellers to use discounts to buy a drink while waiting for their train, for example.

For all the possibilities, Roark emphasises that it is not just about having the right technology. “I say to customers all the time: ‘If all you’re doing is buying technology and not changing the process, you’re going to have a more expensive piece of technology tomorrow’. Before you make a technology decision look at your business processes; how are you re-engineering your business processes to take advantage of new technology?”

In other words, the technology needs to be aligned to the customer and not applied to processes in the hope that it will improve them. “It’s no longer about IT for IT: it’s really about ‘what people am I delivering and what outcome am I trying to get?’,” Roark says. DXC’s software can, he goes on, identify the person, what they do and find how to deliver them faster and better services through a micro service rather than a point solution, which only tackles one specific problem.

New thinking

Looking ahead, Roark highlights cybersecurity as a major focus. “CEOs today, one of the biggest things that they wake up at night thinking about is: ‘how do I protect my information and my customers’ information?’”

New thinking is required around the technology. “So, more is going to happen faster, it’s got to be secure and private,” he continues. For the future, DXC is focusing on disruptive technology to help customers “leapfrog” the competition while also looking at trends which will help clients to adapt to change. “We believe that if we stay looking out ahead five or ten years and start to understand those trends better, then we will be there in five or ten years as a real force in the technology industry,” Roark adds. “Specifically, in travel and transportation, the commitment is not: ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ – it’s ‘here today, here tomorrow’.”

The organisation is investing in artificial intelligence, robotics and automation and machine learning. Roark says that the more a company can do process-wise through some of these innovations, the more their people can be strategic in helping travellers improve their journey.

Advising customers on what technology they need for tomorrow is also a key focus for the group as it strives to become a company which management will turn to. “The CEO wants to know that they’ve got trusted advisors in the technology space that can help drive their business. It’s all about being on the forefront of technology, having our people skilled and tooled,” Roark concludes.

DXC’s Connected Transportation Platform
DXC’s Connected Transportation platform integrates information from a range of data points across all modes of transport while generating data from the interaction between products and services. It is powered by the cloud, analytics and apps and utilises mobility and Internet of Things to improve customer service and improve operations.

The solution combines elements such as enterprise services, a partner ecosystem, application programming interface (API) gateways and infrastructure delivered by scalable hybrid cloud computing and storage.

The company says its features and functions can be tailored for cities to provide an end-to-end journey to help provide a more pleasant experience. For example, if a commuter wants to know whether the taxi taking them to the station is running late and if the next train they are planning on using is changing platforms before they get to the station. The technology, according to DXC’s general manager for travel and transportation, Adam Roark, is able to link the journey together to provide this information.

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DXC Technology

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