The case for ecosystem design – up front!

The case for ecosystem design – up front!

This Story is part of a series.

  • Alexandre Avranches
    Alexandre Avranches Industrial Designer, designaffairs

Smart mobility is a brilliant future-now concept. But it is a complex, evolving arena.

As more conceptually excellent but workably impractical smart mobility products, services and strategies emerge, it’s becoming clear that success in this arena will require a more holistic approach – one that recognizes the limitations of current market environments, brings the rapidly expanding and evolving mobility ecosystem sharply into view, and aligns with it.

Smart mobility addresses the growing challenges of congestion, pollution and escalating costs facing an increasingly crowded and urbanized world. These new-age solutions make use of advanced technologies (think AI, machine learning, the Internet of Things, or IoT) and new business models to resolve these challenges, offering new value propositions to a changing digitally-driven society.

Smart, connected, shared, electric and autonomous mobility solutions — from bikes-sharing to scooters and on-demand mobility (ride hailing, public transport) – offer cleaner, safer, more efficient, convenient and affordable mobility. It’s a mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) revolution that, according to market research, is driving a slow but clear mindshift from vehicle ownership to asset-sharing and pay-per-access.

Smart mobility is not just about the ride,
it’s about everything related to the ride.

Major players (GM, Toyota, Amazon, and many more) are already striking up partnerships and setting strategies to enter the market with commercial MaaS offerings. But smart mobility is not just about the ride, it’s about everything related to the ride.

IoT, AI and analytics-driven applications help travelers navigate and reach their destinations faster, and help smart cities create intelligent transport systems that can predict and better manage traffic flow. New end-to-end mobility applications can plan routes for users and furnish them with multi-modal smart mobility transport solutions. The benefits accrue to all stakeholders, from consumers to businesses, society and government.

However, the success of these solutions is not just dependent on technology. It’s about their fit.

Putting the cart before the horse

To maximise value of smart mobility, companies, cities, and brands need to start thinking differently about how they design mobility solutions.

Go to any smart mobility tradeshow or fair and it’s all about the best autonomous system, the best code. It’s about the end system. When vendors are asked about the systems that will support their new solutions, answers are vague. Failing to cater to the reality of system evolution timescales can lead to a long wait for a return on investment or, given the pace of innovation and disruption, a complete loss of opportunity.

Another challenge for smart mobility entrants is understanding and catering for transition. Many underestimate the impact of change.

Understanding the viability of new mobility solutions in existing markets,
can ease market entry, transitions and adoption.

Smart mobility introduces new value propositions, some of them highly disruptive. Uber is an excellent example. The model didn’t benefit everyone – certainly not those being displaced. Uber’s failure to address this resulted in serious pushback from taxi drivers in many geographies.

The lesson? Understanding the viability and impact of new mobility solutions in existing markets, can ease market entry, transitions and adoption.

The scope of the market assessment for new product entry cannot be limited to technology fit. For mobility products to be viable, they need to fit environmental limitations and lifestyles, and be poised to keep pace with, or lead, ecosystem advances. This includes government regulation, physical and digital systems (from charging and connected digital infrastructure to intelligent city systems), and related sectors, like insurance.

To drive acceptance, new smart mobility solutions need to dovetail with existing systems, potentially creating synergies that enable them to accelerate transformation.

It requires collaboration, partnership and co-creation across ecosystems – between cities and ride providers, innovators and app providers.

The ideal result? Functional solutions that work immediately, and can scale and adapt as the environment and its systems transform. It is possible.

This Story is part of a series. Check out part 2.

The people behind our thoughts

Related examples of our work

We’re suitably equipped to enable rapid prototyping and physical implementation. Our plan is to transform mobility in logistics, retail and health.

Sketches of our autonomous vehicle
Sketches of our autonomous vehicle
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