Digital dilemmas in mobility
Vice President and Global Market Leader for Transportation and Hospitality
Head of Strategy & Portfolio Atos UK&I; Editor in Chief for the Atos Scientific Community
Posted on: 27 August 2019
As the promises of digital gain ever more momentum, so too do the imperatives for mobility providers and partners to respond. Yet the waves of change and the sometimes-divergent choices they present can introduce dilemmas for those responsible for leading and shaping digital transformation.
Types of digital dilemma
At their simplest, these dilemmas are reflections of alternative business strategies. Should we invest in our own data platform or procure a shared service capability? How do we deal with legacy infrastructure while also exploiting new digital technologies?
The rate at which certain technologies are maturing and evolving often outpaces the rate at which they can be adopted in a measured and effective way. As the boundaries of what digital technologies make possible are continually stretched, there are questions around how the corresponding regulatory frameworks and standards can evolve without stifling innovation.
And there are dilemmas at the heart of how humans engage with the world of digital. How do we embrace automation? How can my business help to address the growing digital divide between certain demographics? Alongside the focus on enhancing customer experience, how can my organization help address wider societal issues such as data privacy and employee wellbeing?
Possible versus permissible
A strategy of ‘digital by default’ is not the only response to real-world challenges. What is possible with digital technologies and what is desirable or permissible are not always the same. Making these distinctions is not wholly predictable. Rational and emotional responses are influenced by factors such as business value and economic sustainability, as well as personal and societal impacts, willingness and ability to change, and perceptions of trust and fairness.
Digital dilemmas and outcomes are shaped by balancing tensions in four key areas:
• Insights created through data. Being data-driven can be an invaluable differentiator for organizations while making life easier and better for customers and citizens. For example, demand-responsive transit is on the horizon, whereby train or bus services are dynamically optimized and airline services are highly personalized according to demand or preference. While it is easy to see advantages in both these new models, balancing those with individuals’ rights to services and privacy will be equally important
• Inertia from the wider societal impact of digital. The real world may be unable or unwilling to keep pace with technological innovation. Digitally enabled ‘floating bike’ schemes, for example, are easy and quick to set up; yet their impact on shared spaces could be more difficult to manage. Equally, regulation of use of drones is needed to catch up with technological advances
• Inequalities that could arise to inhibit adoption. Digital technologies can cause a digital divide between those who embrace them and those who don’t. New mobility apps and the growing gig economy offer customers and workers choice and convenience. Yet there are challenges from public opinion, competitors and public authorities to manage the impacts on wider society and other mobility providers.
• Ideals that place humans at the heart. Ideals and trust are balancing forces across all areas of digital adoption. Adoption of technologies will be strongly influenced by collective values and beliefs, for example in the use of facial recognition technologies on transport networks, the deployment of robotics, and the ethics involved in the safety of autonomous cars.
Individual and organizational responses to these digital dilemmas depend entirely on context. Where an organization decides to strike the balance will shape not only its approach to digital transformation, but the evolution of its enterprise as a whole and the role it plays in its sector and in wider society.
Digital Vision for Mobility
This article is part of the Atos Digital Vision for Mobility opinion paper. We explore opportunities and challenges for transport and logistics providers in this rapidly evolving space, where transport and logistics are leading other markets in digital transformation.