We consider unrestricted individual mobility to be an inalienable human right. In a world where 70 per cent of the population will live in cities in a few decades, sustainable, convenient, safe, reliable and affordable mobility needs new ideas and disruptive innovations to fight congestion and pollution. Thought leaders typically enjoy establishing and defending competing ideas and positions. However, when the discourse is about the mobility, everybody appears to converge on the perspective that the future will be electric, connected, autonomous and shared. The economic incentive for new mobility paradigms is enormous, considering that the economic toll of traffic jams was 305 billion dollars in 2017 in the US alone.
Automotive disruption: Analytics & management
Superficially, the trend towards connected, autonomous, shared and electric mobility seems to be little more than a linear evolution of what mobility means for us today, but I believe that we are facing substantial change. Vehicles running with internal combustion engines emit noise and harmful exhaust gases. The connected vehicles of the future will inhale and exhale data into a cloud that will condense into new business models for existing and new mobility players. Future generations will wonder why we needed 910 motor vehicles for every 1000 citizens in the US that were sitting idle, occupying precious space most of the day. Shared vehicles will see a much higher utilisation than cars owned and used exclusively by individuals, resulting in major headaches for the car makers who struggle to project car ownership as a key element for freedom and independence. The trend towards urbanisation and improving infrastructure will make short work of the range anxiety that keeps people from switching to electric vehicles today – creating more nightmares for car manufacturers and their supplier network that have billions worth of intellectual property and production assets that run on gasoline and diesel. And even if operators of autonomous vehicles have had some challenges recently, they have made huge progress since 2005 when the DARPA challenge was mastered by the first autonomous vehicles.
Each of the trends around connected, autonomous and shared electric vehicles have the potential to disrupt mobility as we know it. We are in for a massive change that is eagerly driven by business innovators and digital disruptors.
The business evolution of Automotive Resources International (ARI), the largest privately held fleet management company in the world, demonstrates an example of successful IoT technology adoption. ARI has innovated its fleet management through sensor-based data gathering and real-time analytics. Using SAP technology, ARI has been able to stay ahead of customer needs through predictive analysis of data on maintenance, transmissions, engine operation and more. By staying informed through data, less manual contact is used across processes, resulting in higher efficiency and value, as well as lower costs.
As mobility becomes electric, utilities providers are entering the scenes. These providers are seek new business models as their traditional model of generating, distributing and selling electricity is disrupted by ”prosumers” who produce electricity on their roof, store it in batteries or feed it back into the grid. Charging infrastructure, metering and billing are the entry-level services utilities offer to claim their share of the mobility market of the future.
Advanced vehicle data systems allow for data-driven insights that bring valuable information for both passenger mobility and last-mile delivery operations. These insights include inbound and outbound transport visualisations, digitalised delivery processes, vehicle charging, parking availability and more. Creating connected vehicles means businesses can track routes and conditions in real-time, as well as monitor driver activity. With this, the enterprise can be sure that goods are being moved safely and efficiently from seller to buyer. Intelligent enterprises optimise the movement of goods as fleet operations are streamlined through increased visibility and traffic management, including congestion and emissions.
Intelligent enterprises are changing the automotive ecosystem through advanced mobility solutions. With IoT intelligence, gas stations will no longer be the exclusive watering hole for thirsty vehicles. Electric vehicles are charged at home, at work and at public charging spots - wherever the vehicle happens to be parked. Tomorrow, the charging spots will be technologically “smart” and support even smarter services that are efficient and hands-free for the driver. The proliferation of electric vehicles will strain the power grid but also provide large scale battery storage to balance the grid, contributing back to addressing a key concern that stems from the intermittent power generation of wind farms and solar parks.
Beyond automotive: Innovation in aviation
Even if we see the first aircraft lift off on battery power, kerosene will be the aviation fuel for decades to come. Shell Aviation is using technology such as electronic meter readings and prepopulated flight information to improve efficiency and safety. According to Shell Aviation, the “SkyPad app replaces paper-based processes connecting fuel provider and customer throughout the refuelling process. It uses cloud computing, Internet of Things (IOT) and mobile technology to simplify fuelling operations globally. Real time data gives operators the information they need at their fingertips to improve decision making and efficiency.”
Smart cities: The benefits of intelligent mobility
Cities and urban agglomerations are competing for business investments and for citizens. Clean air and convenient mobility are important elements for liveable cities and healthy businesses. Digital solutions are powerful and cost-effective solutions that cities can use to improve liveability. Mobility advancements with the intelligent enterprise will also reduce traffic congestion in cities. Keeping track of enterprise fleets through mobile monitoring and analysis, enterprises can ensure that their vehicles are continuously on track to their destination and avoid clogging streets, charging stations and parking lots. This keeps traffic moving efficiently, reducing a major strain of urban environments.
Looking ahead: Convenience through autonomous cars
While smart mobility is a well-known trend, the “city of the future” will be equipped with green energy and e-mobility, which will require additional digital tools. With the UN projecting that almost 70 per cent of the world population will live in urban areas by 2050, according to its 2018 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects, mobility is going to be much different a few years from now than it is today, especially in larger cities.
Ride sharing services reduce carbon footprints and congestion. They are expected to grow at a rate of 15 per cent over the next years. As “low hanging fruit,” these services should be continuously encouraged, enabled by convenient ride sharing solutions by SAP.
Harnessing the power of data
Through a suite of intelligent technologies, businesses have the power to capitalise on mobility data. Keeping fleets and aircraft managed efficiently while containing costs, generating energy savings and keeping traffic in urban environments low, businesses can strengthen their attractiveness in smart city environments. As mobility and urban environments continue to grow and develop, intelligent technology will help business and governments keep pace with consumer and citizen expectations.
Peter Maier, Co-President, SAP Industries
Image Credit: Flickr / janneke staaks