Shifting one’s self-understanding from being a passive data supplier to becoming an active creator can bring about significant changes, especially in mobility. Businesses can only generate maximum profits if they are providing the best products and services. Meanwhile customers are neither forgetful nor easily forgiving. The best offer wins and is not only defined by its price.
The example of buying a car clearly shows that dealers are no longer the first place to go. Instead, one starts by using an online configurator. So-called “Recommender Systems” increasingly support the model selection. To recommend adequate options and services, algorithms learn from previous configurations and purchases of other customers. While making the configuration easier for customers, it also enables the vehicle producer to maximise efficiency through targeted variant planning.
However, by integrating new service providers, the ongoing data analysis on vehicle usage has untapped potentials not only for manufacturers but for end-consumers, too. Based on data on one’s driving style, maintenance intervals can be individually calculated, and wear-dependent component replacements can be planned. Rigid intervals set by the manufacturer depending on time or mileage are becoming obsolete. Instead, vehicle usage determines the necessity and timing of the next service. Needless to say, these individualised services are not offered for pure service reasons. Nevertheless, thinking this further, the collection and evaluation of data also gives customers new opportunities to actively shape a company’s direction, albeit often unconsciously.
As individuals, with their mobility behaviour, customers contribute significantly to the development of services, for which car-sharing is the best example. The users’ behaviour influences the business model of a sharing-provider. To meet customer preferences, the fleet is dynamically adjusted by analysing vehicle utilisation. Driving and parking behaviour further influences the business area. Regular parking of vehicles close to the edge of the usage zone may lead to a long-term expansion of the usage area. Demand regulates supply.
For this, providers need to know their customers well. Which routes are being travelled? How does the weather influence the mobility behaviour of customers? Does the offer address the right target group?
Our recent customer analysis for an international mobility provider showed that original market positioning and reality not always align. The predefined target group – people aged 20 to 30 – only accounted for about 20% of the users. Knowing this, however, the offer was adapted and complemented by targeted advertising so that the share of users under 30 years old increased while keeping existing customers.
This simple example clearly shows that, with the help of data analysis, mobility providers can react flexibly and quickly to market changes. In fact, to stay competitive in the long term, providers will have to.
To see how great the impact and responsibilities really are, let’s have a closer look at a recent Berlin art project: An artist showed how wrong interpretation and targeted manipulation of basic data can lead to false conclusions. For this, he created an “artificial virtual traffic jam” using smartphones and a wheelbarrow. Based on the generated date the navigation app Google Maps redirected users to an alternative route.
However, the art of smart data analysis is not simply mastered by processing and analysing large amount of data but by knowing and understanding the relations in the context of mobility. Only then, one can make sustainable, good decisions based on data. The use of mobility data yields great opportunities – and risks, if unused or misinterpreted.
Roman Benedetto is partner at EFS Consulting. Over the past 10 years he managed international projects in the areas of strategy & process development, market analysis and product definition in the automotive industry. He contributes his expertise in various projects in the context of smart mobility to design new mobility solutions.
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