by Justin Whitston , CEO of Fleetondemand
Mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) is the latest trend that is doing the rounds at every fleet, travel and technology conference going.
In the last couple of weeks we’ve seen major acquisitions and expansions of MaaS services such as General Motor’s announcement about its monthly car-sharing plan Maven.
Mobility-as-a-Service is a term that encompasses the use of technology to connect and improve all aspects of travel. For businesses however, MaaS initiatives aim to unify all modes of transport for a business into one simple and easy to use platform with the objective of improving cost and efficiency through shorter travel planning and cost comparison.
For the fleet industry this is incredibly important as it could have the potential to change the way enterprise level companies approach their business mobility strategy.
Convergence of fleet and travel industries
The corporate world faces a huge challenge in consolidating their vast fleet operations with the alternatives provided by the travel industry. Questions such as “do we still need a fleet manager?” and even “do we still need a fleet?” pose difficult and complex business decisions. Partnerships with more agile and flexible travel options providers like Uber and Airbnb don’t require the restrictive nature of long-term procurement contracts.
Ford’s global trend and futuring manager, Sheryl Connelly, recently penned an article stating ‘the company car is dead’. Connelly might be right when she mentions that the automotive industry is investing in MaaS initiatives but it’s not as a replacement, it’s as a complimentary service.
Cost savings from business travel
Company fleet schemes can be in excess of 20,000 vehicles that require purchasing, using and maintaining on a daily basis. There is often a collision of expenses in businesses where policies and planning for business travel out dated and time consuming, thereby reducing employee operational profitability.
Advancements in app technology such as Mobilleo, open APIs for transport providers and machine learning now mean that the planning of a business journey need only take seconds as supposed to hours of searching for flights, trains and hotels.
Less financial risk
Undoubtedly the most crucial reason for business investing heavily in MaaS is to reduce risk against ageing company car fleets or large transport provider contracts. Just as employees want flexibility, financial directors want to enjoy the same agility to manage their transport assets without long term contractual obligations.
MaaS isn’t about usership replacing ownership, it’s about providing a new option as part of the mix. For the business world, corporate travel is quickly becoming less about having to own and maintaining a constantly depreciating company car fleet, and more about looking at tactical travel initiatives such as car sharing.
So, is Mobility-as-a-Service just a buzzword?
Currently the industry seems intent on only talking about the impact of self-driving cars and Uber style transport models, but MaaS is much more than this. Instead, both consumers and businesses need to look at all aspects of travel – that starts with the initial journey planning and can cover everything from parking fees, credit card fees, a sandwich on the train and even where you go eat in the evening.
Mobility-as-a-Service is an inevitability with the advancements in technology and data-sharing currently happening. Businesses need to think much bigger than the cost of their fleet and instead should start to consider every single aspect of travel.