Digital dilemmas in mobility

Theo Quick

Vice President and Global Market Leader for Transportation and Hospitality

John Hall

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.

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About Theo Quick

Vice President and Global Market Leader for Transportation and Hospitality
With over 20 years working with clients in the road, rail, aviation, logistics, automotive and hospitality markets, Theo Quick is VP and Global Market Leader for Transportation and Hospitality where he is responsible for defining the strategy and driving Digital Transformation for the customers of Atos. Theo has always been at the forefront of technology, transforming the market. For example, in 2013, Theo launched the Intelligent Mobility Technology Roadmap for the UK’s Automotive Council, a joint Government and industry body. This roadmap paved the way for the UK Government’s investment into Autonomous Vehicles and Theo remains on a number of Advisory boards for some of the UK’s Autonomous Vehicle projects to this day. Theo believes that the transportation market is now experiencing the most change since the invention of the petroleum engine. Advances in communications, data availability and ICT capabilities are all enabling new business processes and models.

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About John Hall

Head of Strategy & Portfolio Atos UK&I; Editor in Chief for the Atos Scientific Community and member of the Scientific Community
John is a chartered Engineer with more than 30 years cross-industry IT and General Management experience in the Energy, Industry and Public Sectors. Having fulfilled a variety of roles including IT management, Programme & Account management and Operations management, John is now responsible for the strategy and governance underpinning the Atos UK&I portfolio of products and services. A member of the Atos Scientific Community, John is involved in all aspects of Innovation and thought leadership with regard to using business technology to address the current and future challenges faced by organisations . He has a particular focus on developing the strategy and go-to-market approach for digital transformation and disruptive technologies, with a particular focus on Hybrid cloud, Industrial Data Platforms, blockchain and the Gig economy. Married with 3 children, based in NW England. Enjoys rock climbing and running.

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