As with many other ambitious and challenging IT projects, governance, not technology, is the real challenge facing the implementation of an Open MaaS (Mobility as a Service) ecosystem. And with poor governance having the dangerous potential to derail your entire Open MaaS project, it obviously pays to dedicate enough attention to this particular aspect of the implementation.
Open MaaS, Sopra Steria’s alternative to traditional MaaS approaches, is first and foremost a digital ecosystem. This immediately and automatically raises the question of governance: who will coordinate and manage the ecosystem with all its different partners and components?
A single, seamless end-to-end mobility service
As a mobility ecosystem, Open MaaS involves a number of different stakeholders or partners uniting around a shared concept of mobility. That concept sees mobility as an intelligent, sustainable, and as the term itself suggests open service. The ecosystem partners can be public authorities, semi-public organisations, as well as private companies. More importantly, they all have to work together to offer the mobility user, their customer, a seamless end-to-end mobility service.
One of the main concerns about such a service is that you have to be able to guarantee the same level of quality and maintain a consistent customer experience across the entire service chain. Another major concern is that you have to be able to combine and integrate the individual mobility services of the different ecosystem partners into a single, seamless mobility service, ideally also offering your customer the convenience of a single ticketing service.
A strong governance layer required
All of this cannot be achieved without strong governance from one or more partners in the Open MaaS ecosystem. To successfully implement Open MaaS, ideally, an official central coordinator takes full ownership of the actual mobility services platform. Apart from managing its central components, that coordinator also has to manage the interaction between the different partners - and in such a way that it enables the sustainable, long-term collaboration Open MaaS requires.
With only a few (Open) MaaS implementations in the field today, the question of which partner is best equipped to take on this key role remains up for debate. Ideally, the job goes to a neutral party, if only to raise confidence among the other partners. Also ideally, that neutral party will carry the necessary authority and weight to finance and operate an Open MaaS platform - and keep it going for a long time to come.
Public versus private: a balanced governance model
This seems to naturally point towards the public sector. Public authorities are not necessarily known, however, for building complex technical systems, creating superior customer experiences or managing data intelligence: all essential requirements when implementing an Open MaaS platform. Private players are usually more experienced and skilled at dealing with these aspects of an Open Maas implementation.
Obviously, implementing the actual technologies on which Open MaaS is built is not the first concern, let alone the core function of public authorities. They are primarily focused on creating and implementing mobility policies. In other words, their first concern is to set up a regulatory framework to organize the mobility market according to specific policy goals, such as sustainability. Sometimes their focus does stretch, however, to defining how mobility infrastructures are to be implemented or used and how mobility services are to be delivered. This may even include setting technological standards for mobility tools, data sharing, and data management.
Taking all the above into consideration, and looking at the results of the first (Open) MaaS projects, we feel that a balanced governance model with public sector leadership is probably the best way to move forward today.
Contact me or my colleagues for more expert advice on the different (Open) MaaS management and governance models: private (B2C), public (G2C), and hybrid (B2G2C).