15/03/2021 The digital age is re-defining mobility: in the past, mobility businesses focused on moving people as efficiently as possible, but today they are expected to harness technology to deliver sophisticated, sustainable mobility solutions at scale. To find out how analytics, data and robotics are changing the mobility landscape, and what businesses can do to turn innovation to their advantage, we recently held an event featuring Mazars and external experts from across the mobility landscape. Find the recap and recording below.
Beneficial disruption on the rise across sectors
Disruption in mobility is often synonymous with recent changes to personal transportation, namely popular ride-hailing apps and city bikeshare programmes. However, transportation is not the only sector using digital tools to innovate.
The healthcare sector, particularly in the face of a global pandemic, has proven its appetite to adapt. “We have seen [the healthcare sector] embrace technology and innovation at a much greater speed than pre-pandemic,” explained Amy Shortman, Director of Product Marketing, Overhaul. She noted how data and analytics are playing a crucial role in the supply chain, ensuring healthcare products are delivered using crucial time and temperature-sensitive methods.
Scott Weinstein, President, Same Day Delivery, brings decades of experience to getting goods to where they need to be. He recalled that in 1985, when two supermarkets in Manhattan took up delivery services, his team was working with paper and manual preparation. Today, with one touch of a button, he can identify where his truck is, how fast it is driving and whether there are any safety risks.
He said, “We have routing software that was never available before and many companies allow entry into this software for a very low cost. Companies are using these services not only for routing, telematics, trucks and computers, but also for simplifying communication with drivers.”
From silos to synergy and scalability
Claire Cizaire, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Mazars, spoke about the need to break down silos and work towards more interconnection between data points: “It really is about making sure that all systems are connected and that you have enough data to take out the noise and identify the real added value of it in order to optimise the flows”. To do this, she said, businesses are using artificial intelligence (AI) to aggregate and connect data points.
The amount of data that is needed, however, led Weinstein to voice concerns about access and opportunity. He praised the programmes currently on the market as “fantastic and helpful with efficiencies such as routing, payroll and hiring,” but warned that future disruptions in AI could leave some companies behind.
Easing concerns, Michael Rofman, Partner and Transport & Logistics, Mazars, cited robotics as an area that is seeing larger scale participation from a growing number of businesses. He said: “The early adapters came in at a very high price point and built a reputation as the innovative companies, but [now] it’s starting to come down to SMEs being able to adopt elements of robotics into their organisations.” He noted the emergence of robotics in the third party logistics (3PL) space, where not only are they seeing a stronger reliance on digitised systems, but also the introduction of new functionalities in robotics, such as self-charging capacity.
Deploying technology for good
While there are concerns about technology’s potentially negative influence in some areas, it is up to business leaders and others to navigate the way forward, as Cizaire said, “It’s up to all of us: owners, customers and stakeholders to make the most of technology in an ethical way.”
The airline industry offers one example: where businesses are finding new ways to use data to take on climate change issues. Alexandre Feray, CEO, OpenAirlines, explained that data previously used to report on CO2 emissions to regulators has been repurposed from a mere obligation to a tool that enables airlines to understand how to reduce their emissions.
Similarly, Rofman spoke about the initiative undertaken by the New York-New Jersey Port Authority to become greener by reducing emissions. This involves trucks beyond a certain age being either recycled or adapted using new technologies that work with alternative energy. In addition, there is a push from the government in the United States to inject economic stimulus to reduce the costs of similar projects and incentivise stakeholders. “This, in turn, should lead to more productivity and greater profits,” said Rofman.
The food industry has also set objectives to become more sustainable using mobility, according to Shortman. She noted how tolerance for ‘acceptable waste’ is dwindling and data is now used to mitigate waste and ensure that products are getting to customers in the right conditions by using functionalities such as temperature management and optimal packaging.
Shortage of scientists signals challenges ahead
For Feray, the current shortage of engineering and data scientists is a concern and emphasised the need for a generation of talent strong in maths and data science. Cizaire agreed, adding the importance of ‘hybrid profiles’: people who not only understand the science, statistics and data and are not afraid of handling them, but also understand how to translate and apply that information to increase business value.
What will the mobility landscape look like in ten years?
Asked about the decade ahead, Rofman and Feray see technology companies blending into mobility companies. Both are confident in their organisations’ abilities to harness data and use it to transition from dependencies on natural resources and fossil fuels to alternative energies. Weinstein said that, already, it is difficult to separate the mobility from technology as firms gravitate towards a tech-mobile business model.
Shortman expects an improvement in affordability to be the next game changer for mobility. She views future partnerships with insurance agencies as a key way to help drive down the cost of data and deviceless applications. Meanwhile Cizaire sees mobility companies standing on their own feet: “I’d like to think that they will be able to catch-up and use data to turn what they already have into something very useful and viable. They have been instrumental in the past.”
Watch the second instalment of the Mazars ‘Reinventing the wheel’ events below. To find out more about what’s driving change in mobility, including sustainable solutions and the rise of mobility as a service, go here.
Recorded on Wednesday, 9 March 2021.