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How avatars and machine learning are helping this company to fast track digital transformation

How can you bring about change in a sector that has historically been connected with massive infrastructures and ingrained operational processes? That is the central question in digital transformation.

The answer, according to London North Eastern Railway (LNER) Chief Digital and Innovation Officer (CDIO) Danny Gonzalez, is to put technology at the center of everything your company does.

He asserts that “we truly believe that digital is vitally essential.” “We must provide experiences that live up to or beyond the expectations of our clients.”

Fulfilling that agenda is no simple feat. The rail trip, according to Gonzalez, is “full” of potential problems for a traveler, from purchasing a ticket to arriving at the train station to encountering delays on the train to having trouble leaving the station once they get to their destination.

SEE: Success-driven trends and insights for the digital transition

LNER seeks to alleviate customer journey pain points, but it must implement these improvements in a market where outdated systems and procedures are still widely used. Gonzalez claims that some of the equipment in use is frequently older than 30 years.

He claims that spreadsheets and a staggering quantity of paper are still utilized in many areas of the training sector.

“Our work focuses on examining how elements like machine learning, automation, and integrated systems can genuinely revolutionize what we do and the experience that clients have,” says the statement.

Gonzalez claims that the work focuses on how technology may be utilized to enhance how the company runs and how it provides services to its clients.

Gonzalez refers to this as LNER’s North Star, a detailed roadmap for digital transformation that “gives everyone a focus on the critical things to achieve.”

As CDIO, he has assembled a digital directorate of 38 competent professionals, stepping away from traditional railway procedures and governance in favor of innovation and the development of original responses to difficult problems.

A railway firm giving more liberty for workers to attempt things and fail is rare, he claims.

Since 2020, the digital directorate has introduced more than 60 tools and tested 15 proofs-of-concept with the help of its network of business and startup partners.

One of these ideas is an in-station avatar that has been created in conjunction with Deutsche Bahn AG, the German national railroad business.

Customers may engage in free-flowing discussions with an avatar at a designated booth at the station during an experiment run by LNER in Newcastle. The avatar was integrated with LNER’s booking system to provide consumers with the most recent information on service availability. Following the trial’s success, LNER is currently seeking to acquire a complete solution for wider distribution.

The business is also developing what Gonzalez refers to as a “door-to-door” mobility-as-a-service application, which would inform users of their travel options and provide them access to other service providers like taxi services or experts in car and bike rentals.

It’s important to ensure that the entire experience is connected, he argues. As a customer, you feel in control and are confident that we will address any issues that arise during the process.

LNER is making significant investments in machine learning technologies for its operational tasks that take place in the background. Gonzalez’s team has tested a few noteworthy ideas that are currently entering production.

One of these is a tool called Quantum, which enables LNER staff members to reroute train services in the event of a disruption and lessen the effect on passengers by processing enormous volumes of previous data.

“To learn from the mistakes of the past, Quantum employs machine learning. The historical decisions that have been taken and how they have affected the railway operation are examined “He claims.

“It calculates hundreds of thousands of possible outcomes that may occur if particular actions are made. When there is a service disruption, it is radically changing how our service delivery personnel operate trains.”

Gonzalez’s team uses the three horizon model developed by consultant McKinsey to recognize and take advantage of emerging technologies. This transition spans three crucial areas and enables LNER to evaluate prospective development prospects without sacrificing current performance.

The “large, meaty items” that are crucial to daily operations, such as reservation and booking systems, are the focus of horizon one, while the “developing prospects” that the company is presently scouting fall under horizon two.

Gonzalez claims that horizon three, which McKinsey thinks has innovative ideas for long-term profitable growth, is the current focus of most of his team’s efforts.

He claims that the method entails providing teams a lot of latitudes to experiment, test theories, and genuinely comprehend how the technology functions.

FutureLabs, an accelerator where LNER collaborates with the startup community to see whether they can assist advance digital transformation in novel and interesting ways, is essential to our endeavor.

Gonzalez explains that the company “goes out with major issue statements throughout the industry and asks the innovators to come and assist us solve our difficulties – and that’s resulted in some of the most impactful things that we’ve done as a business.”

FutureLabs has already achieved ground-breaking outcomes. The “door-to-door” mobility service and the Quantum machine-learning tool have both been created with the assistance of startup partners JUNCTION and IOMOB.

LNER has completed the third batch of its accelerator and is now looking for fresh creativity. Selected firms get money and coaching to create and expand digital solutions.

Gonzalez claims that this focused strategy gives LNER’s relationships with and investments in the startup ecosystem structure, which gives them a competitive edge.

It’s not like other organizations I’ve observed, where innovation projects frequently include “spray and pray,” he claims. The businesses we deal with have a considerably higher success rate because they are clear about the issues they are attempting to address.

SEE: Four strategies for standing out in the competitive workplace

Gonzalez counsels other experts to be very specific about the issues they’re aiming to resolve through digital transformation.

“Identify your priorities and include the business in the process. The company must be aware of the benefits that digital technology may offer in terms of how you operate as a corporation “He claims.

“The fact that our board recognized that rail needs to improve its digital strategy is fortunate for us. However, we’ve worked hard to develop an awareness of the problems that existed and the fixes we required if we’re going to compete in the future.”

News Desk

News Desk



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