Transport operators need to accelerate towards the future workplace – here’s how

The first mass public transportation systems were established in the 1820s. Ever since then, the transport industry has maintained a laser-like focus on a few key areas: safety, operational efficiency and the customer journey.

This model has worked well enough up until now. But it’s not fit for the digital age, because it lacks the necessary focus on the employee experience.

In the future, we can expect to see transport operators shifting their efforts inwards. They will need to develop their internal workplace in order to raise productivity and collaboration enough to keep up with the pace of change.

Our white paper sets out our vision of this new model of transport. Set in the year 2025, it follows a day in the life of Dan, a project manager working to ease congestion at Oxford Circus underground station (it seems some things never change).

In this blog post, I’m going to explain our new model of transport in more detail – and highlight how Dan can better solve the congestion problem as a result of having better workplace services.

What will change for the employee?

By 2025, life for a transport worker will be entirely different.

Employees will no longer be tied to rigid schedules or set office locations. Information and data will be accessible via the cloud from anywhere. Wearable devices will enable employees to work effectively wherever they are.

For Dan, this means a better working experience. Flexi-time means he can meet family commitments as and when he needs to, and being able to choose his working location, and even work while travelling, makes him more productive.

And the flexible new model is no impediment to communication or team morale. As the whitepaper shows, virtual reality (VR) technology, like holograms, will make it possible to have a five-way call where employees can see each other as if they are in the same room.

The other big change for employees involves productivity. Automation and effective data sharing will enable employees to carry out their tasks with less hassle – so they can do far more with their time.

If an employee today is inspecting part of a railway track, and they notice a part is broken, they have to undertake many steps to fix it.

They have to find information on that part – what it is, where it is from, whether there are any spares, where are the spares stored – which is often held in documents scattered around the system. Sometimes the information is lost or too hard to find, and this wastes time.

But in 2025, the worker will be equipped with a pair of smartglasses. They will be able to pull up all of the information (stored in the cloud) on the part simply by looking at it through the lens. The system will also automatically order a new part to replace the broken one.

With automation taking care of the menial, valueless work, it becomes a much more seamless and efficient process. Plus AI will assist with some of the more complex routine jobs – in our scenario, AI monitors the number of passengers on the network.

Ultimately, the employees of the future will feel that their wellbeing is at the heart of the workplace. Technology should support and enable them to be as productive as possible by removing the friction from the working day.

What will change for the business?

For transport organisations in 2025, collaboration will be key. This is a big change from how transport operators work today, but it will be necessitated by the accelerating pace of change – both in terms of technology, and in terms of the market.

It’s impossible for any single operator to face the change alone. We all have our own areas of expertise, and as technology becomes more and more complex, we will have to share our knowledge to find mutually beneficial solutions.

Besides, transport itself is set to become increasingly inter-connected, as we see the introduction and, a few years down the line, growth of mobility-as-a-service. Passengers often use more than one service in a single journey, and this means operators need to integrate in the back-end, and share resources and data, to provide a seamless customer experience.

Confidence in these services coming together is short, and we can see this clearly in the results of our recent public survey.

We asked the British public to give us their views on public transport. The vast majority told us they don’t expect to see collaboration between transport organisations. In fact, For this reason, it’s crucial to break down the barriers between operators in order to regain the confidence of the public, and shake off the industry’s slow and traditional reputation.

How are we going to get there?

In terms of time, 2025 isn’t that far away. But in terms of technology and capability, 2025 may as well be light-years away – at least for the majority of transport operators.

So how should operators proceed? Well, in my view, evolution needs to take place in small iterative steps.

Transport businesses should choose small challenges, and use them as an opportunity to implement transformation and prove the value of emerging technologies. There are plenty of pain points in the area of maintenance. Why not utilise AI to solve them?

But don’t just decide to bring in AI, regardless of whether the situation actually calls for it. The most important thing is to try and find a solution, based on a real assessment of the challenge at hand.

This is Fujitsu’s approach. When we embark upon a transformation project, our first priority is to go in and talk to the business to understand their business challenge.

Following this, we look to collaborate on a solution, with the customer by our side every step of the way. This is the co-creation principle, and it lies at the heart of our business.

Finally, transport operators need to remember not to neglect the softer side of change. This involves training, change management, on-boarding: all of these aspects of the employee experience will be shaped by technology.

It’s up to operators to ensure that they are shaped for the better.

Make the future come to you

If transport operators don’t invest in 2025 today, they risk missing out on new talent. There’s a creative new generation entering the workforce – like Dan, our project manager.

They want and deserve an exciting workplace. But as it stands today, transport is too traditional to be appealing.

Making small, iterative changes now will enable transport businesses to build up to the flexible, technological and employee-focused workplace of 2025.

But it’s crucial to start now. With a future this exciting, who would want to wait?

Download the transport ‘Day in the life’ white paper.

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