Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Developing Open Transport isn't about the the technology

I have been pretty involved in the creation of the Open Transport Initiative. A project, along with some very clever folk in the transport industry, to create a new interoperability open standard for transport / mobility accounts.

It has been personally rewarding (so far) and on 14 October we launched a near-finalised version of the customer account specification for peer review & feedback.

Several people have commented that this is a pretty significant technology, which (assuming it is adopted across the transport industry) could provide a similar level of integration and openness as Open Banking has provided to the Financial Services industry.

But the reason for creating this Open Standard and giving it away (eventually) isn't to show how technically proficient I and those around me are. It is to meet a growing need that has been identified... that a customer's transport data such as: purchases, usage and concessions is locked away in an account for each mode of transport.

Steve Jobs once famously remarked 'You've got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.' and this is what we have done. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Why the cost of your cloud infrastructure could be too high

I've recently been been looking at some significantly increasing cloud hosting costs for a client.

There are a lot of reasons why this is happening... but in short, a lot of additional cloud costs come from these three causes:

1. Incorrect cloud architecture
This could be: not using “build & burn” practices, failing to automatically spin up (and especially spin down) components as needed, etc.

2. Processing more data than is needed
This could be: the creation of too many environments, badly sized test databases, etc.

3. Having unnecessarily stringent NFRs for non-production
In this could be: the high specification of development or test environments, running batch jobs too often and when not needed.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Open Transport Initiative is gearing-up for launch

I've been quiet on this blog over the last 6 or 7 weeks, as I have been working hard on a number of client projects and also getting things ready for the launch of Open Transport.

As well as the actual website: https://opentransport.co.uk/ there is now a Linkedin page online:


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Knack Bags earns 5 star rating on TrustPilot

I'm very happy today that a Press Release for our client Knack (https://knackbags.com) has just gone live.

Knack have (justifiably IMHO) gained a 5 star rating and some great reviews for their website, service and products. 






Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Transformation in Travel needs rethinking

If Digital transformation is all about the connected customer, then how can transport be truly transformational if it doesn't provide what the digital customer wants?

A customer doesn't want a fragmented mobility experience. They want a cohesive one that is consistent (but not necessarily exactly the same) across all digital channels. But how can transport deliver a truly mature digital experience when:

  • Every train operating company (26 in the UK) is a difference franchise, most of them providing their own online account
  • Many local bus services don’t have online self-service accounts and those that do have one for each operation / franchise (despite these services being run by the same parent company in a lot of cases)
  • Public transport services have private competition which only allow their tickets to be accepted via their own mobile app
We therefore need a rethink of how every customer account for each transport provider integrates. And that this way of integrating is not locked to a particular operator or technology provider. To ensure that if I have 4 accounts with 4 different operators... I don't have to log in to each one to get a holistic / aggregated view of my entire transit purchases or trips.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Short Sighted User Experience

Boots.com make life difficult for online bookings by:

  1. Forcing online registration for booking an eye test appointment online (despite already asking me a lot of these questions as part of the appointment request process)
  2. Generating an error that I haven't used a loyalty card number as part of the registration (which I do not have nor want)
  3. Not indicating that the loyalty card number is a required field



So I think I will phone for an appointment instead (thank goodness I didn't need glasses to find this out)

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Loyalty & a fragmented transport network won't work!

I recently read an article on Wired.com about how USA-based transit providers are offering loyalty rewards to encourage usage of their services.

In my opinion royalty rewards are offered for only two purposes:
1. In exchange for customer data (e.g. give us your email for 10% off first purchase)
2. To change user behaviour (e.g. get 20% off rail fares for travelling off-peak)

However, this article got me thinking about how a multi-modal (rail, bus, subway, ferry, etc.)  transport network could never hope to implement an effective loyalty scheme if it only had one mode... in other words in a fragmented area, such as Scotland, could this work?

So here's my article on Linkedin explaining this in more detail:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/supporting-loyalty-rewards-fragmented-transport-hayden-sutherland/

In reality... of course I know it won't work unless:

  • All operators share the same technology/software/account application (and I know how unlikely that would be in a privatised industry)
  • There are ways for all these accounts to integrate together, so that an aggregated view of all accounts is possible in one place.
    And I think it is for this purpose that an Open Transport API should work towards.