Customer Insight

Innovation in rail, particularly to improve the customer experience, can be established from a real understanding of what motivates users. NTTX can help you innovate by collecting customer insight using new technology as well as more traditional methods.

Just some of the benefits of innovating through customer insight include;

  • Understanding customer needs and their drivers
  • Achieving long lasting customer loyalty
  • Informing future innovations
  • Being recognised as an organisation that listens and acts, reinforcing brand
  • Gaining a competitive edge in bidding

NTTX has real expertise in gaining customer insight. Just recently, our consultants, working with Transport Systems Catapult, led a series of innovation workshops for customers and stakeholders, to support the development of the East Anglia franchise specification. Some great ideas emerged that will hopefully become features of the franchise. We can help you design and deliver focus groups that can inform innovation around customer experience.

Customer insight in the transport sector has lagged behind other sectors. However, this is changing. Research predicts that there will be 25 – 30 billion mobile devices connected to the Internet of Things by 2020. New forms of customer insight will be available through an increased range of open data, and interconnectivity of data. NTTX, working with our partners, is well placed to help you understand customer data, individually or aggregated to inform trends.

We remain committed to helping the transport industry share open data from current and future sources. Too often, the emphasis has been to look at solutions, and then consider how to mine and aggregate data to support these. We believe that the emphasis should be on collating and aggregating transport related data, and then passing that on to other experts, in order to analyse problems and build solutions.

Innovation Funding

Innovation comes from creative people, but it usually requires investment. In our work with the rail industry, we often hear great ideas that will improve performance, reduce cost, or provide customer excellence. However, enthusiasm can often be tempered by a lack of funding to research, develop and trial ideas.

In the rail sector, investment in R & D and innovation still lags well behind other sector norm of 2%. Recognising this as a barrier, there are now increasing sources of funding to allow your great ideas get to market. Our consultants have a good understanding of how innovation can be funded. Not only can we help you with development of ideas, we can assist you with identifying potential funding streams and work with you on applications for investment.

We have an in-depth understanding of how funding is made available through BIS, DfT, Innovate UK and other public sector sources. Just some of the other sources include:

  • Franchises – Innovation in Franchising fund (up to 1% of franchise revenue) for new franchises and Residual Value (up to £75m available in-life)
  • Funding Competitions – The number of funding competitions is increasing considerably, to allow the industry and supply chain to develop their ideas. RSSB and DfT will make up to £100m available for R & D during Control Period 5 (up to 2019) and regular competitions launched by Future Railway and Innovate UK will stimulate more innovation.
  • Regional and Local Government – Local Enterprise Partnerships, local authorities, and other transport bodies are now increasingly investing in innovation and seeking the right partners to deliver intelligent mobility.
  • European Funding – Many sources of potential funding opportunities with business and academia partners, including the ambitious Horizon 2020 programme which will release up to 80billion euros for innovation. Specifically there will be calls for innovation around Mobility for Growth, Green Vehicles, and Small Business/Fast Track Innovation for Transport.

“Governments will always play a huge part in solving big problems. They set public policy and are uniquely able to provide the resources to make sure solutions reach everyone who needs them. They also fund basic research, which is a crucial component of the innovation that improves life for everyone” Bill Gates

Innovation Capability

The vision for people in the 30 year Rail Technical Strategy is “a skilled, committed and adaptable people delivering an efficient and customer-focussed railway”. Without a real lift in innovation capability, this will not be realised.

NTTX is pleased that the Department for Transport now requires evidence of how innovation capability will be lifted by its partners, through development and implementation of an innovation strategy.

Bringing together our blend of creative rail experts and innovation practitioners from other industries (including top business schools) we can:

  • De-mystify the innovation landscape in rail
  • Help you understand how to develop your innovation strategy
  • Work with you to develop the right culture where innovation will thrive
  • Deliver a practical understanding of innovation management, processes, tools and techniques
  • Apply lessons learned into real life problem solving
  • Help you contribute to the industry target of attaining Innovation Maturity Level 5

The business benefits from investing in an innovative workforce are huge – just some of them include;

  • Providing you with roadmaps for your innovation journey
  • Giving you the tools and techniques that can be applied to tactical and strategic issues in your business
  • Creating a culture where ideas can be converted into reality, giving your business a real competitive edge.
  • Attracting and retaining talented staff

Innovation has nothing to do with how many R & D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R & D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” Steve Jobs, Apple

Innovation in Strategy and Business Planning

Policy makers have a major role to play in realising innovation in rail. NTTX can help ensure innovation is embedded within emerging policy, devolved responsibilities, and regional/local transport plans.

We have a detailed understanding of the national, regional and local government role in transport procurement and governance. To complement this, our core competencies include:

  • Facilitation of vision workshops to help set future direction
  • Scenario planning to understand the external environment in the future
  • Ideas generation from internal and external resources
  • Development of inspirational regional and local transport plans
  • Change Management and Transformation experience to realise successful devolved organisations

An innovative organisation is one that always questions, learns from mistakes, welcomes change, supports risk taking, and collaborates. Many rail sector businesses recognise the need to change their whole organisational model to enable the innovative culture that will drive results. NTTX has a great blend of business transformation skills, with a real understanding of how to apply them in the transport market. We can offer support at each stage.

  • Direction. Helping to develop your business strategic direction and goals, working with stakeholders to explore your environment, challenges and opportunities.
  • Design. Review of operating models and approach to customer service to help provide innovative designs that can be assessed for best strategic fit.
  • Delivery. Embedding our staff within your organisation to manage part or whole of the change programme, and undertake benefits management to keep outcomes firmly in mind.

Recent invitations to tender (ITTs) for rail franchises have included requirements for Innovation Strategies that set out how the organisation will develop its innovation capability. NTTX has expert resources that understand these requirements from firsthand experience, and can help develop innovation strategies that deliver a real competitive edge

Innovation in the rail industry means doing something new, smarter and better to make a positive difference

Rail in the UK is growing at record levels. The industry already delivers over 1.5 billion passenger journeys each year. An extra 400 million passenger journeys are predicted over the next 10 years. Expenditure in rail is also growing, to cope with additional demand. Passengers contribute £9bn to total annual income, with the Government adding close to £4bn and further billions invested in major projects. The need to innovate to maximise ROI has never been higher.

Here at NTTX, innovation in the rail industry means doing something new, smarter and better, to make a positive difference.

Our consultants have an in-depth understanding of the drivers of innovation in the rail sector, from meeting the challenges of the visionary Rail Technical Strategy, to addressing industry cost reductions of some 30% as recommended by the McNulty Report. Our experts have helped to enable innovation in the franchising process, including addressing current low levels of investment in innovation and R&D by TOCs (0.3% of turnover compared to other industry norms of up to 2%).

Society is changing, people expect more, and railway services will need to become much more customer responsive. Enhanced scenario planning is critical to understand what our towns and cities will look like in the future. With our industry partners, including Microsoft, Cisco and Dell, we can help create a clear image of future citizen requirements. Our technology experts are already utilising Big Data to drive products, applications and business processes that will make a difference. We firmly believe that the devolution agenda will drive greater innovation, requiring understanding of the differing needs across the country, and getting closer to customers.

There are significant innovation challenges in delivering major projects, including HS2, Network Rail’s CP5 and 6 programmes, and realising the Digital Railway. NTTX believes that innovation is not just about technology, it’s about great people, business processes, real customer insight, and a positive mind-set. We can help the industry understand these challenges, and meet them in new ways.

Overcoming the barriers of data compliance

Data compliance

The UK is well known for its robust data protection and personal data laws, laws that provide considerable and very welcome protection to individuals and businesses alike.

However, it is also well known that these laws present potential challenges to business that wish to embrace public cloud services where the provider does not have datacentre locations within mainland UK.

To maintain compliance with UK data protection law, businesses are often forced to look for cloud providers who have datacentres located within the UK, but who are notable to provide the same capabilities and performance guarantees of a platform such as Microsoft Azure.

This ultimately leaves organisations between the metaphorical rock and hard place, stuck between data compliance law and unknown or unquantifiable options from service providers within the UK.

With the release of Windows Azure Pack and associated Cloud OS vision (now known as Cloud Platform vision), Microsoft took steps to address this by providing a way for service providers to deliver an Azure like experience in terms of look and feel within their own services and datacentres.

Whilst this addresses part of the challenge, each provider that has embraced the Windows Azure Pack solution within their own underling systems, often delivers considerable variations in capacity, performance and system availability, businesses wishing to embrace the cloud therefore have no way to quantify or assess the quality or performance of these platforms, nor is there an easy way to compare one with another.

A more predictable and robust additional was required; enter the Microsoft Cloud Platform System (CPS); Microsoft’s entry into converged IT infrastructure, announced at TechED EU 2014.

With the introduction of CPS Microsoft is making available an Azure-consistent platform, built on the core design of Azure, and which provides many of the Azure services in a self-contained datacentre solution.

With the power and performance of CPS, organisations across the UK can for the first time get Azure consistent IaaS and PaaS services from a system designed, built and endorsed by Microsoft.

Find out more about CPS through NTTX.

Taking the lottery out of Platform as a service (PaaS)

With Microsoft’s announcement of the Cloud Platform System CPS at TechEd EU 2014, a new era in converged IT infrastructure was born.

With CPS, Microsoft has for the first time combined hardware and software to deliver a hyper-density Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform. A platform that allows end-customers looking for a dependable hosted infrastructure running on Windows technology, to utilise a solution that is validated and endorsed by Microsoft.

Beyond IaaS

When it comes to hosted services, IaaS is only part of the story. For most end users, IaaS is just a means to an end; that end being the delivery of applications and services workloads that enable their business to thrive.

This is where the role of Platform as a Service (PaaS) comes in, specifically taking pre-defined configurations of applications or server solutions and deploying them within a hosted IaaS.

Most “cloud” platform providers offer many “PaaS” solutions, commonly in the form of pre-defined deployments of applications, with Operating System (OS) and application settings pre-set so that the customer can easily integrate them into their business.

A quick look through many of the cloud providers will find most of the core productivity solutions coming up time and again; Microsoft Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, SQL or CRM to name only a few. With each hoster creating their own variant or configuration.

Avoiding the PaaS lottery

At this point as a customer the PaaS lottery starts to rear its head; as how do you compare the offerings, how do you know they will work and scale in a way that meets your companies needs. How do you know the settings and configuration are in line with the original software vendor’s guidelines?

This simple answer is you don’t, and without considerable validation on your part, getting any sensible answer is potentially challenging.

Enter CPS, or more importantly, validated CPS workloads. Validated CPS workloads are PaaS and cloud services that Microsoft has developed, tested, and validated.

Tried and tested

In other words, Microsoft has taken the core capabilities of the CPS platform and then built, tested, and tuned most of their primary server product offerings to work against it in an optimal configuration, so that you as a customer know that they will work.

These solutions have been designed and validated by the teams that created the original software. They are guaranteed to work and scale in a way that is stable and quantifiable, with Microsoft’s full support and endorsement.

Let’s think about that another way for a second: historically in a traditional IT solution, a customer would commonly choose a hardware and software solution validated by their tier 1 vendor with an appropriate support and life-cycle policy. This approach was key to delivering stable, predictable internal IT operations.

To date, to achieve this with an external cloud provider has been very difficult without going through a large amount of validation and testing, a time consuming and potentially costly activity.

By using IaaS and PaaS on CPS, a customer placing their workloads on a hoster who operates a CPS system can gain a Microsoft endorsed and validated solution in the Cloud space instantly, knowing that the solution they choose will work, and work in the way it was designed.

Discover more about the UKs only provider of Microsoft CPS solutions.