The Future of Transport - Is your business ready for change?
By David Eason
Disruptive trends and technologies like autonomous vehicles, machine learning, MaaS and demand response are predicted to be ‘business as usual’ in transport operations within a matter of years.
While these advancements sound like distant problems or things that can be dealt with when they come, the truth is that now is the time to act so that your business has the backbone it needs and is ultimately ready for some big changes.
TECHNOLOGY IS EXPANDING. IS YOUR MARKET SHARE EXPANDING WITH IT?
With public transport patronage on the rise and demand forecasted to continue as Australia’s population increases, there is opportunity within the market to retain or even expand your company’s share.
However, the landscape isn’t what it once was. Digitalisation and automation are now widespread and competition in the bus industry is at an all-time high. Expectations are being set with new technologies and the need to improve the customer experience means companies must either adapt or risk becoming obsolete.
While digitalisation may not seem like an impending threat, studies show that companies who introduce an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can gain a competitive advantage.
By embracing change and using digital technologies that enable the use of a more streamlined network with more automation capabilities, services can be delivered with enhanced efficiency in terms of costs and operations.
These changes can strengthen the relationship your company has with the transport authorities and help you deliver a better passenger experience. This ability to consistently hit your contract KPIs makes you more likely to gain and retain business.
Automating and streamlining communication across your business through the use of a single, multifaceted system can allow for time and cost efficiencies, help you to understand the business, identify trends and assist in making informed decisions above and beyond manual, paper-based procedures.
You need to be proactive and take preventative measures now to future-proof your business.
An integrated software system provides an advantage for your business in maintaining market share despite an increasingly competitive and rapidly transforming market. It will help the core of your business excel and improve, and provide people with the tools they need to work effectively.
The spin-off effect then becomes your ability to retain profit and keep your customers.
A NEW GENERATION, A NEW WAY TO WORK
Historically, the bus industry workforce has consisted primarily of older employees (with the majority aged 51-60 years).
However, as this older generation of Australians inevitably starts to move out of the workforce and into retirement, a new generation will soon make up the bulk of the working population. Bus operators are now seeing evolving workplaces as younger employees bring with them a different set of values and attitudes; this ultimately means they have to adapt the way they run their operations in response to this culture shift.
The general profile of an employee was once unwavering loyalty, with many workers highly likely to occupy the same role or position within a company for much of their careers.
In vast contrast, members of the new generation want flexibility, ‘work to live’ and value job satisfaction over maintaining a job for monetary or stability reasons.
As change occurs and there is an injection of youth into a maturing industry, there is an explicit need for continued transfer of business information and knowledge to new staff members. It is imperative not to let the loss of longstanding employees and key stakeholders within the business mean a loss of all the experience and skill they hold.
Without a system in place to effectively retain data, policy and operational and management procedures, there is a significant risk of losing key information, business knowledge and expertise when personnel move out of your organisation.
Having an ERP in place reduces this risk significantly as business processes and historical data are recorded in a single, accessible place.
STRICTER LAWS AND STANDARDS – HOW DOES YOUR FLEET MEASURE UP?
As the industry progresses and legislation and standard specifications continue to develop, there is rising pressure on bus operators to conform to higher fleet standards and follow more demanding, stricter auditing procedures.
The need to rigorously track and report maintenance procedures, timeframes and costs is greater than ever, especially when the implications for noncompliance at several points along the chain of responsibility can lead to serious consequences (even jail time for those owing a duty of care).
It is therefore essential to incorporate a streamlined system that allows for easy maintenance tracking, vehicle performance monitoring and inventory management.
With an ERP system, your business will have all maintenance and financial records stored in a single system for easy access. This digitisation and audit trail not only makes internal procedures more efficient, but is also useful in situations that require speedy submissions of records to government authorities.
Having a system that functions seamlessly across departments can further translate into cost efficiencies, as effectively managing the maintenance of your fleet can lengthen the lifespan of your vehicles and therefore reduce the need to purchase new vehicles.
These are just some of the many changes affecting the bus industry that necessitate updates to your systems and procedures. Companies that get ahead of these changes now will drive operational efficiencies today while adapting to tomorrow’s changes, positioning your business to thrive today and well into the future.
Figuratively speaking – maybe it’s time to change lanes and put your business in the best possible position.
 Department of Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. (2016). Trends: Transport and Australia’s Development to 2040 and Beyond. Retrieved from https://infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure/
 Bus Industry Confederation Incorporated. (2014). Productivity growth in the passenger transport industry through best practice. Retrieved June 4, 2018, from http://bic.asn.au/information-for-moving-people/productivity-growth-passenger-transport
 Kwahk, K., & Ahn, H. (2010). Moderating Effects of Localization Differences on ERP Use: A Socio-Technical Systems Perspective. Computers in Human Behavior 26 (2010) , pp.186–198.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Participation, Job Search and Mobility, Australia, February 2017, cat. no. 6226.0, ABS, Canberra.
 Salmeron, J. & Lopez, C. (2010). A Multicriteria Approach for Risks Assessment in ERP Maintenance . The Journal of Systems and Software 83 (2010), pp.1941–1953.
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