2016 marked a turning point for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the transportation industry. We are seeing ideas that seemed distant actually becoming a reality. Self-driving cars are on the roads, Mobility as a Service (MaaS) apps are going live and we have deployed our AI-based technology in Bike Share Schemes around the world.
The industry is at the very beginning of a period of rapid change. Throughout 2016, we’ve seen glimpses of the future that have hinted at what is possible in transportation. Legacy models are being challenged and there is an appetite for change.
Digital transformation is rewriting the rules in industries around the world. Transportation is not separate from that. Consumers’ expectations are changing and they are demanding that transportation behave more like other services they consume. While transportation networks like buses and trains are not easily disrupted, any improvement to user experience is welcome and can differentiate even the oldest forms of transport.
Drivers for Change
Consumer expectations are being shaped by their experiences with smartphones, eCommerce platforms and predictive, proactive and intelligent services delivered by companies like Google, Facebook and Apple. A lot of the applications and services we use every day are data-driven, on-demand and delivered across devices. That is changing how we see the world and what we expect from traditional and longer established industries like transportation.
So many of the apps and services we use today are fluid and operate beyond silos. I can log into a streaming service like Spotify on an iPhone or an HP laptop. Google Maps can be accessed via different devices and then seamlessly integrated into other mobile apps for different purposes. Apps and services are adaptable and that creates new user experiences and accelerates how they grow.
At the same time, users aren’t tied to one service or another. If they have a poor experience, they are used to deleting apps in seconds and moving on. Loyalty is at an all-time low and churn happens in an instant. That is a challenge for providers of any service and something that drives the need for exceptional customer service.
Operators and Providers of transportation services should be asking themselves four key questions:
- How do we deliver a transportation service that meets these new expectations?
- How do we create an exceptional user experience?
- What technologies can optimise our services?
- How do we go beyond what we are doing today and deliver the services of the future?
These questions pose interesting challenges to transportation operators and providers. They have to reimagine their role in the transportation ecosystem and think about how they are going to proactively shape their future.
Alphabet, Google’s holding company, has said that it is not in the business of making better cars “…We are in the business of making better drivers.” That is a real shift in thinking and something that we at Stage Intelligence really believe in. The new era of transportation is not about just making more trains available or buses run on time but making services and experiences better.
Optimising Bike Share Schemes
At Stage Intelligence, we have been focused on using AI to simplify and optimise how Bike Share Schemes are managed. We have had success in integrating mobile, applications and AI to create a platform that helps operators to deliver an exceptional user experience.
Throughout 2016, we have trialled our technology around the world and deployed it in cities across the US. The response to our BICO recommendation engine has been tremendous.
Bike Share Scheme operators have seen how BICO can simplify their operations with AI-based recommendations that consider millions of criteria and turn data into actionable insights. BICO makes recommendations for distributing bikes to locations where and when they are needed. That means riders can access bikes when they want them and be sure a dock will be available at the end of their journey.
The trucks that distribute bicycles across the scheme are supported with a mobile app that tells them where to pick up and drop bikes in real-time. Decision making time is reduced, communications are streamlined and riders know that they can depend on their Bike Share Schemes.
We take complex and ever-changing city environments and make them easy to understand and serve. This optimises management and makes it easy for operators to provide the best possible experience for riders.
Riders can rely on Bike Share Schemes and become regular users. That increases ridership and helps cities to benefit from healthy and rider-centric Bike Share Schemes. Our goal is to remove the friction from using a Bike Share Scheme and to help operators deliver exceptional rider experiences that in turn drive growth in their schemes.
AI enables them to meet increasingly demanding consumer expectations and helps to position Bike Share Schemes as an even more reliable mode of transport than traditional transport networks. AI makes it possible to make faster decisions with greater accuracy while optimising these decisions in real-time.
This is why so many schemes around the world are trialling BICO or have deployed it already. They see the potential for AI to deliver transport services that are as dependable and efficient as other apps and services we use every day.
In 2017, we will continue to see our deployments grow to more Bike Share Schemes in more cities globally. We have had success in North America and have seen the potential of our solutions in some of the largest cities in the US. There is momentum behind our platform as more cities adopt BICO and see how simple and beneficial it can be to use AI in their operations.
In the New Year, we expect to see new growth in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region with more Bike Share Schemes looking at how they can optimise their services. The US has been an early adopter of AI in Bike Share Schemes but there is a growing openness to integrating new technologies in Bike Share Schemes around the world.
There also is growing interest in electric scooter sharing and autonomous vehicles, these have the potential to benefit from distribution and logistics solutions as well. We are evaluating these opportunities as we don’t see any limits on where our technology can be applied.
Beyond Bike Share Schemes, we see huge opportunities in supporting and making On Demand Delivery services a reality. We can help application operators to deliver truly on demand experiences for customers while helping to differentiate their services with AI.
In hyper-competitive markets like food delivery, AI can support an optimised distribution of delivery drivers and enable them to be faster and more efficient than their competitors. In 2017, we will give our partners a competitive edge using AI and enable them to differentiate with Quality of Experience.
Similarly, we are looking at MaaS and how we can integrate AI into fully converged apps for citywide transport. MaaS apps are streamlining journey planning and delivering new ways of navigating cities. The challenge is to optimise journeys while taking into account availability, demand, weather, events and other criteria that can change day-to-day.
Our approach will be focused on using AI to create new value from existing transport networks and delivering exceptional user experiences. The value of MaaS is easy to understand but it is execution and intelligence that will make it essential for citizens.
Throughout 2017, we will be exploring how we can innovate with AI and use our technology to deliver new services. Transportation is changing and we are at the cutting edge of AI, optimisation and delivering the user experiences of the future. We are helping our partners to answer those four key questions and deliver transportation services that match new demand and expectations.
2017 is going to be a year of disruption for transportation around the world and we are going to support our partners and help them to succeed as our industry continues to change.
CEO, Stage Intelligence