Many years ago, my friend Jonathan bought a new house in an area that he loved. In the years that followed, the shape of his family changed, which meant the house needed to be adapted to fit his needs. First, when he and his wife moved in, they added an extension. Then they had a couple of kids, and as they got older, Jonathan realised he needed more space, so he added another extension. A couple of years later, his mother moved in with them, and to accommodate that change in the family, he added yet another extension. The result, as you can imagine, was a house that was meeting the needs of his family, but it certainly had its quirks. Due to the fact that each extension only focused on solving an immediate need, the family ended up with a bedroom that led of another bedroom and a downstairs toilet with two doors from two different parts of the house. Crazy, I know!
It dawned on Jonathan that after all that time and money spent building small extensions, if he was going to get a house that was going to really work for his future needs, he needed to make a choice – move to a completely new house and give up the community and area he loved or knock down half the house and build something designed especially for him.
He chose the second option, and while the process was still a little painful, the investment was worth it, and all those quirky things that were making people crazy were gone.
When considering the kind of transformation that organisations are faced with to take advantage of the opportunities Mobility as a Service will provide in the coming years, it reminds me of Jonathan and his house.
This story represents the challenge that companies in the mobility space are facing with perfect clarity. As a transport company, do you move into a completely different industry simply because your legacy technology is hindering your progress? Or do you keep hold of all that heritage you have been building over the years and remodel your platforms with something bespoke and designed with your future needs in mind?
Logically, giving up your rich heritage doesn’t seem like a smart option. So, when you start to focus on what you need do to amend your technology estate, there are a few important aspects to keep in mind:
- Getting a new system is not going to make enough of a difference if you don’t also go through a cultural transformation to adjust the mindset of your staff. Imagine Jonathans wife’s reaction when he told her he was going to knock down half the house they had spent so long building. He needed to make sure that they were both aligned to the vision of what the future state was going to be like, and once he had her onboard, things could fall into place. Modernising your business for MaaS will require your teams to have a clear direction, collaboration and involvement, and the knowledge that they can make tweaks should plans take a slightly different or unexpected route, which they invariably do at some point.
- You are going to need new partners. Jonathan didn’t go to the same local builder he used for his extensions when he decided to remodel. He employed a great architect who could help him bring his vision to life, but who could also push back when his expectations were unrealistic. You will need a technology partner who can design a bespoke solution that is publicly available, cloud-based, probably serverless and built using microservices, and that is highly available with extremely low latency. These are the essential ingredients that are going to make MaaS work.
- Your new systems will need to be flexible and adaptable and allow you to be driven by customer needs and to be accessible to those customers.
- You will need to make sure your new system is secure. MaaS is going to require elements of your bespoke solution to be open source so that you can work seamlessly with other businesses that will make frictionless transportation a reality. To do so, you need a strong security foundation, and to ensure that you are empowering your business to have a strong focus on security.
Transforming your legacy into a perpetually ready state is the goal, by having a learning organisation that is willing to pivot to incorporate positive changes but resilient enough to withstand external threats. Because MaaS offers us numerous potential future scenarios, your business needs to be aligned to a core goal that helps to steer your efforts, but that is not a fixed destination. This will help you focus your efforts on things that are core to your purpose, without being tempted to invest in functions and capabilities that are not going to serve that purpose.
Whatever business you are in, you want to be concerned with thinking strategically about how you grow and evolve your products to improve your differentiation.
The way to start that strategic endeavour is for the leader of the business to paint the vision and ensure all are bought into the dream. The mission to achieve that vision is a collaborative approach with an enthusiastic set of stakeholders engaged, with responsibility and authority to make it a reality, constantly gauging the ever changing market requirements.