The development of new digital technologies and the increase in their availability is enabling this generation with new ways to access and use transportation services. The desire to harness these technologies, and realize "smart cities” is commonplace. A new future for transportation is being drawn, with radical changes for operators and regulators. Above all, there is a massive growth in citizens' expectations for efficient, sustainable, and cheaper travel.
With this change, several transportation companies have begun to equip themselves with digital platforms where supply and demand can meet. The new frontier is to combine traditional and alternative mobility solutions at a single point of access: ride‑sharing, public transportation, bike‑sharing, and other shared mobility services.
The Mobility as a Service (MaaS) paradigm represents all of this. Let's see in detail what it is all about.
What is Mobility as a Service (MaaS)
According to Wikipedia, “Mobility as a service (MaaS) is a type of service that, through a joint digital channel, enables users to plan, book, and pay for multiple types of mobility services”. The aim is to empower travelers by allowing them to choose the most suitable, convenient, and sustainable transportation combination, even among different operators, so as to improve the efficiency of travel in the city.
From a user perspective, the services include everything from public transportation to car‑sharing, from renting electric scooters to paying for parking, as well as collateral services such as insurance, infomobility, and technical support.
The MaaS paradigm opens up business opportunities for operators by offering and integrating new business channels. Smaller transportation companies will be able to access more travelers by integrating their services with those of larger providers. The latter will enrich their portfolio of offerings with collateral and complementary services. Furthermore, the single point of payment within the platform and the centralization of data collection will provide greater efficiency to the entire ecosystem, ensuring a targeted response, with changes or updates to the services offered depending on consumers' needs. In order to achieve this goal, a high level of information and data sharing is required.
Challenges to creating Mobility as a Service (MaaS)
The creation of MaaS presents both business and technical challenges.
On top of these are the challenges concerning the topic of legal issues. Indeed, regulations related to data processing, such as GDPR, should not be ignored or underestimated. There is a need to think about a regulatory framework shared by operators, vendors, and institutions that ensures the safe and responsible handling of consumer data.
The key challenge for the implementation of MaaS is integration among the different stakeholders. The single platform sees the coexistence of different regulators and operators, each with different goals. In this scenario, the role of institutions is crucial: they are responsible for orchestrating and incentivizing the grounding of the project.
In an evolving and challenging environment, the industry is beginning to embrace "servitization" trends, a rapidly expanding phenomenon in many businesses. In the world of mobility and transportation, the underlying idea is to put the consumer at the center and offer them a range of services, going beyond the simple purchase process of a singular product. An example of "servitization" is the shared rental of an electric scooter. The advantage for consumers lies in saving time and money. Operators, on the other hand, will benefit from the ongoing relationship with the customer, first and foremost due to the recurring purchase of subscriptions, and the ability to add collateral services. This has prompted a shift in focus for operators from product‑centered to service‑centered business models, with an emphasis on meeting customer needs.
With MaaS, "servitization" takes the form of the purchase of a single subscription for access to the entire ecosystem on the platform, implying the creation of new business partnerships to offer specialized and high‑value‑added collateral services for the user. In fact, involving other service providers makes it possible to reach out to users of these services and broaden one's catchment area, as well as being able to increase one's ability to participate in public tenders and be eligible for economic and tax incentives.
Another challenge concerns consumer habits. From a sustainability perspective, the MaaS paradigm pushes toward shared mobility, moving beyond the use of the proprietary vehicle to reach the destination. The goal is to create a shared ecosystem for public transportation that achieves such levels of efficiency and ease of use that it proves to be the most convenient choice for the end user. Users should not perceive giving up their individual means of transportation as a loss if they have access to efficient shared mobility through MaaS. By utilizing MaaS, travelers can save time and money while also benefiting the community and the environment.
One of the main technical challenges to be faced when trying to integrate different technology systems to communicate with each other involves data integration. The data models of the various players involved may differ from each other, acting as an obstacle to integration. To overcome this challenge, it is necessary to create shared standards and use technologies that enable systems to communicate easily regardless of their internal structure.
In this regard, the most critical challenge relates to payments. Ease of use, one of the key features for the success of MaaS, requires that the finalization of the purchase is done in an integrated manner to the platform, without the need for the user to use other external channels and, at the same time, providing a great user experience. This requires interoperability of the IT infrastructure of different players to ensure compatibility. A great example of such a solution is the Payment Integration Hub, developed by Mia-FinTech.
With this in mind, the need to share information among the various practitioners is crucial. The implementation of systems that transfer data in real‑time is the tipping point for efficient trip planning by the user.
Another technical challenge for the concretization of MaaS concerns the sharing of incoming data from transportation access points, such as turnstiles and electronic entrances. The issue is not only one of software adaptation, but also an upgrade of infrastructure to make it compatible with the new integrated system.
Mia‑Platform as an enabler of Mobility as a Service (MaaS)
While it is true that the challenges for MaaS implementation come through collaboration between different actors and listening to user needs, equally relevant is the issue of underlying IT infrastructures, which enable the effective implementation of agreements and overcoming the technological challenges mentioned above. The heart of MaaS is the digital platform.
Building a MaaS platform that is robust, flexible, and scalable, but most importantly, easily evolvable and maintainable over time is currently the biggest challenge for all operators. Each company will have to create its own platform, and it will have to do so with the particular needs of the territory covered in mind: in fact, one of the keys to the success of a MaaS platform is its connection to the territory. Therefore, a high level of customization is required, which is why it is difficult to find an off‑the‑shelf solution on the market that meets all relevant needs.
On the other hand, however, there are solutions available on the market that enable the creation of a customized platform to be accelerated, effectively acting as enablers of Mobility as a Service. Among them is Mia‑Platform, a cloud‑native platform builder that particularly stands out in the following respects:
- Through Mia‑Platform Marketplace, a rich and comprehensive Service Catalog, provides an extensive catalog of ready-to-use components. These components cover functionalities specific to the mobility industry and thus to all actors involved in MaaS, such as travel planners made available by so-called Mobility Service Providers (MSPs). Such components can also be more generic and provided by Other Service Providers (OSPs) such as payment services, communication, authentication, location, and more.
- With Mia‑Platform Fast Data you will be able to rely on a tool that can integrate data from all business systems, aggregate it according to different business needs, have it available 24/7 in real-time, and expose it to all external touchpoints via API. The availability of real-time data is a crucial factor in the success of a MaaS platform.
- With Mia-Platform Console you will be able to facilitate the entire software development experience, speeding up its delivery. Such an Internal Developer Platform enables control and centralization of IT projects, leveraging the latest cloud-native technologies and building a modern, evolvable, and scalable microservices architecture.
The implementation of this innovative Mobility as a Service paradigm enables the delivery of a smooth user experience. Interoperability of services, continuous access to up‑to‑date data and the ability to expose it to applications, devices, physical points of sale and, more generally, to digital channels of different natures, mean that MaaS ensures an omnichannel customer experience.
What enables the Mobility as a Service approach is the creation of a digital platform to collect and integrate the services offered by the various operators on the one hand, and to make them available to users across all available touchpoints on the other. Mia‑Platform helps you build a modular, scalable, and evolvable digital platform that leverages the best available cloud‑native technologies and provides you with ready‑to‑use components to speed software development and integration with existing services.
Read the Trenord case study and contact us to learn how we can help you implement your Mobility as a Service platform!
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