May 2020

HOW COVID-19 IS DRIVING DIGITAL CHANGE IN THE TRAVEL & TRANSPORTATION SECTOR

Konrad Thomasson 6 min read

HOW COVID-19 IS DRIVING DIGITAL CHANGE IN THE TRAVEL & TRANSPORTATION SECTOR

COVID-19 is driving significant change across many sectors, none more so than those in the travel sector and the essential transportation of people, goods and infrastructure. Although many of these businesses have digital projects ‘in flight’, most will need to be adapted to manage the challenges they are facing now and well into the future. With the decline of leisure travel and the unlikelihood of ‘old normal’ returning for some time, businesses are having to refocus efforts on the moving of essential goods and services which is placing significant pressure on freight operations. Businesses with complex and legacy IT infrastructures are finding it difficult to adapt to this new way of being. A shift in demand and the need for remote working is proving challenging, particularly with an uncertain future.

However, those who are able to use technology as an enabler and adapt their business model for the future by fast tracking digital change, will be the ones ahead of their competition.

Here are 7 ways COVID-19 is driving digital change in the T & T sector and how you should manage it!

1.    BUILD A SOLID FOUNDATION

Many travel & transportation businesses rely on old, complex IT infrastructures that very few people understand. A house built on sand won’t stand! The same applies to your network. Deploying services in the new normal will require businesses to be more agile and flexible to respond quickly to changing conditions and demand. Software driven networks enable scalability at much less cost. They are easier to manage and much less vulnerable to security threats compared to traditional networks.

2.    CLOUD FIRST IS A MUST

One thing COVID-19 has highlighted is that businesses will have to enable a more flexible workforce. This is particularly important for those in the travel and transportation sector. However, many of the core systems used to manage the flow of goods and services are on-premise. To deal with current and future crisis’ companies need to adopt a cloud-based strategy, to enable staff and business to continue working anywhere, anytime.

3.    THINK SELF-SERVE

Self-serve can reduce service costs, increase productivity and customer loyalty and boost site traffic. Whilst leisure travellers have come to expect such capabilities, commercial customers still heavily rely on supplier staff to manage specific functions on their behalf. Implementing a self serve approach for commercial freight customers, would immediately allow them to book their own space on vessels and upload documentation such as digital consignment notes, significantly reducing waste, errors and delays. Additionally freeing up of key staff!

4.    AUTOMATE CORE PROCESSES

There is a need for the efficient supply of essential goods and services, yet most transportation companies use a plethora of systems, spreadsheets and manual processes, which are under unprecedented strain. A range of digital solutions are needed to automate and streamline operational processes, from web booking portals for commercial customers, through to mobile apps to help plan, load and offload vehicles on vessels.

5.    RE-IMAGINE THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY

COVID-19 will also have a significant impact on the way we travel. Some predictions suggest we will all travel much less, whilst others say there is pent up demand. One thing is for sure, the customer journey won’t be the same. Queues at immigration will be long due to health checks, with entrance to some countries restricted without certification. The online journey will need to adapt to keep us informed about what to pack, what to tick, where to sit, when to travel and prices to pay. Digital technology will be key to ensure those who do travel is compliant with current guidelines and best practice policy.

6.    DATA IN ONE PLACE

Many travel and transportation businesses use multiple systems, databases and platforms across their freight and leisure operations. This makes it very difficult from an IT operations perspective to understand what is happening with your data and pinpoint the cause of service related problems efficiently and effectively. Data management and visualisation tools are key to providing a single view of your systems and data, to identify the root cause of problems much faster and increase system availability.

7.    IT MANAGED SERVICES

Although many passenger services staff are furloughed, businesses are still required to support the delivery of essential goods and services. Supply chains are complex networks of individuals, organisations, processes and systems therefore it’s important your business can focus on its primary revenue generator. Managed services, such as service desks, network infrastructure, VOIP and Desktop, not only save you time and money but allow you to keep your teams focused on what really matters.

UPCOMING WEBINAR

Our upcoming Webinar will take an in-depth look at the 7 ways in which companies can drive digital change in a crisis and give insights into strategies being implemented by our customers.

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CONCLUSION

Like a bolt from the blue, COVID-19 is forcing the travel & transportation sector to reimagine and reshape their business models to deliver a new future for its people and customers. However, this journey will be no pleasure cruise! It’s unlikely we will see pre-pandemic levels of passenger demand for some years and the taxpayer won’t offset salaries indefinitely, resulting in the inevitable layoffs across the entire sector. Also, many businesses are facing bankruptcy due to billions owed for cancelled trips. But there is a glimmer of hope for those who act now and fast track their digital change projects. Those that do will survive and start to grow and come through this crisis ahead of their competition.

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Written By
Konrad Thomasson Digital Transformation Manager

Digital Transformation Director, Intergence Systems Ltd. Konrad heads up our Digital Change practice. He has over 20 years of experience delivering change programmes across a broad range of industry sectors and cultures. He recently led a large digital transformation for a travel and transportation business located on the south coast.