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Assessing the challenges of widespread MaaS adoption

Fujitsu’s Rabih Arzouni examines key challenges for MaaS: connectivity, collaboration and governance.

Rabih Arzouni, Fujitsu
Rabih Arzouni, Fujitsu

In today’s on-demand society, the concept of ownership has transformed. We no longer own products; instead, we consume services. And key technologies – such as cloud, AI and IoT – serve as the platform for this enormous shift.


The transport sector is increasingly adopting this on-demand model as well. Fuelled by the mass of new ride-sharing and e-hailing services like Uber and MyTaxi, the way we experience transport now and even more so in the future is via Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS).


This is unsurprising given the many benefits of this model: it is convenient, fast, economically and environmentally efficient.


Connectivity is the biggest challenge for MaaS.


However, MaaS does not come without challenges. The biggest is connectivity – you need stable internet access in all areas for such systems to work. From there, it’s a matter of collaboration between transport providers and a future-focused outlook from governments, to allow the potential of this technology to be realised.


Collaboration is key


Consumer demands are evolving and it’s up to businesses and governments to work together to keep up to speed with the latest trends. What this means for transport is that users will be able to get to where they want at a time and in whichever way that best suits them.


We already use different apps which provide accurate information on travel time, but users will increasingly have more information, updated in real-time, to help them find the quickest and most convenient route for their journeys.


With the foundations for a more efficient MaaS model already out there, it’s a matter of businesses and governments working together to improve services. Transport providers must be more open with customer data and collaborate among themselves, so they can provide a public transport service which matches rising consumer expectations.


For example, together with ACT, Fujitsu is evolving ticketing and payment systems, improving their speed and security for consumers using these services on public transport.


If all stakeholders collaborate, together we can take ownership of the customer journey and better manage the relationships with end users.


Large tech companies already own extensive customer personal information and travel data which makes moving towards a more integrated transport system an obvious choice, both for themselves and for their customers. However, it’s almost impossible for one single organisation to take control and leverage a single customer journey. If all stakeholders collaborate, be it a transport operator, the government, a city authority or a technology company, together we can take ownership of the customer journey and better manage the relationships with end users.


The urban challenge


Reliable connectivity is one of the greatest challenges facing the widespread adoption of the MaaS model. The connectivity structures in place today are not sufficient to match the demands this service requires, especially as autonomous vehicles begin to enter the picture. The good news, however, is that 5G will soon begin to turn this on its head.


5G will enhance infrastructural connectivity, making MaaS viable for transport in the not-so-distant future. Current problems with connectivity in crowded areas, while underground or on trains will be eradicated by the superfast capabilities of the new technology.


It’s also important that the progression of MaaS is not just limited to London and other big cities.


When developing this model, transport providers and local authorities must take into consideration the varying connectivity challenges faced in more rural areas of the UK.


The MaaS experience will undoubtedly be different for those in areas of lower connectivity and reconciling this across the country will represent a major milestone.


A question of governance


The next major challenge for the successful implementation of MaaS is a matter of governance.


For these changes to take place, governments need to have a future-focused outlook towards technology. This in itself is a challenge. There needs to be mutual trust between technology companies and governments. Only then will businesses have the opportunity to maximise the potential of newer technologies.


Mutual trust between technology companies and governments is required.


The benefits of a highly functioning MaaS system are manifold, and if properly demonstrated to local and national authorities, greater leeway and investments will soon be made to the benefit of all involved.


Consumers are more satisfied with their experiences as they are able to have the quickest, most efficient journeys possible, managed all through a single app. There are also environmental benefits to consider – more efficient public transport means fewer people need to drive cars, therefore reducing congestion, especially in urban centres.


Fundamentally, this means delivering innovative digital services that make travelling not just as easy as possible, but as enjoyable as possible.


Moving forward


For years, both private and public organisations have been seeking out ways to encourage greater use of public transport.


Until recently, the convenience of using public transport against personal private options has meant that many people avoid using public services. MaaS will soon mean that public transport can be as tailored to the individual as if they were driving their own car to their destination.


With more investment in the MaaS ecosystem in years to come, competitiveness among providers will also drive prices down which will help democratise the use of these services, so everyone can enjoy more efficient journeys.


The introduction of 5G will undoubtedly be the biggest accelerator of MaaS, promising widespread, robust connectivity on a scale no one has experienced before. If transport providers can work together to harness this exciting new technology to the benefit of themselves and their customers, travel as we know it will be unrecognisable from what was on offer a decade ago.


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