News & Views

User-Centric Mobility

Moving people to and from destinations is just one view of mobility. In tomorrow’s world, we will challenge this traditional model by developing ways to move not only people, but also the goods, services, and experiences they desire.


Since the advent of the automobile, transportation has been viewed as the movement of people or goods to destinations. This point of view is logical, as all things we desire are outside of our current state of being. As technology continues to accelerate all aspects of human life, we’re rethinking our relationship to everything around us.

Through the evolution of big data and the Internet of Things, connectivity is fundamentally changing our society. It’s not only making us more efficient, but giving us time back to enjoy the things we love. This connectivity is slowly making its way to our vehicles, the asset we require to move to and from destinations.

This world of connectivity is also driving up the autonomous vehicle market, which according to McKinsey is expected to reach $600 billion by the year 2030. This forecasted growth creates tremendous opportunity for companies looking to capitalize.

“What if goods, services, and experiences started coming to us?”

This is the basis for user-centric mobility – a cultural revolution built on technology to improve individual lives through interconnectivity. Some think this is decades away, I think it’s closer than we think. Let’s take a look at ways this theory is evolving from mobility methods to fulfillment services.

Exploring the Concept

Today, many different companies are surfacing in the push for user-centric mobility services. The most well-known is Amazon, specifically Amazon Prime, with more than 66 million subscribers. For a mere $100 a year, you get access to free 2-hour shipping (or 2-day shipping for those not in eligible zip codes), free Amazon content, and dozens of other membership benefits.

This means the things you want come to you almost faster than you can go get them. And this delivery time is only decreasing with technology, such as drone delivery. While viewed as a Jetson’s-era concept, Amazon has completed beta testing of this service in Cambridge, England, fulfilling an order in 30 minutes from checkout to delivery.

Amazon is just one of many companies exploring this concept. Shipt, a company focused on same-day grocery delivery, is taking that pesky grocery shopping trip off your weekend to-do list. Just pull up the app, select what you need, and your order can be at your door in as little as an hour (for $35).

“The time vs. money equation is constantly becoming more relevant.”

These concepts really focus on two major mega trends: efficiency in energy utilization of vehicles and last-mile fulfillment expertise. As we explore the connected vehicle and connected home, the possibilities are only limited by imagination.

Evolution of Fetch

The idea and scope of fetch services are still very limited, mostly driven by the requirement of human-to-human interaction. Take for example, Uber. This ride sharing service requires a driver to pick you up, drive you to your destination, and drop you off. Efficient since it’s on-demand, but cumbersome in its root principals.

As the need for human interaction to operate these service models decreases, companies like Uber can expect margins to increase drastically. This is the main driver for the millions of dollars invested over the years on autonomous vehicle technology. The long-term benefits and profitability with companies like Uber has investors sitting tight as the company has yet to make a dollar, but the upside is quite intriguing.

Beyond ground transportation, new companies like AirspaceX are challenging the 4-wheeled approach with new VTOL (or Vertical Take Off and Landing) technology. Their concept MOBi aircraft can reduce a 90-minute commute to just 6 minutes. Look for manufacturers to continue to push prototypes into market in the coming years. We can be sure the FAA will make sure tight regulations are in place prior to any commercial usage.

“Beyond ground transportation, new companies like AirspaceX are challenging the 4-wheeled approach with new VTOL technology. Their concept MOBi aircraft can reduce a 90-minute commute to just 6 minutes.”

Fetch services will continue to evolve over the next 5-10 years. Until we reach the point of full, level five autonomy that enables the complete elimination of human interaction in vehicles, we won’t leverage the true capabilities of what’s possible. As we progress to more advanced driverless vehicles, human-to-human customer service will remain a key component in profitability and user satisfaction.

 Fulfillment Technology

Our fulfillment (order processing and delivery) methods targeting user-centric mobility are becoming smarter and more efficient each day. Consumers are driving how and when we receive goods, services, and experiences, putting additional demand on fulfillment services. Amazon delivered more than 600 million packages in 2016 alone, and with this number only increasing, technology will continue to drive clever ways of looking at optimization and efficiency.

I recently saw a video of a Chinese company leveraging self-driving robots to organize, sort, and distribute packages within a fulfilment center. It’s an amazing spectacle to watch the coordination, synchronization, and communication of these robots in a controlled warehouse.

“Consumers are driving how and when we receive goods, services, and experiences, putting additional demand on fulfillment services.”

By virtually eliminating the need for human interaction, the robots are task-oriented and follow a specially-structured warehouse floor. They’re also self-charging and swap each other out, allowing for 24-hour asset utilization.

As I watched the video, I could only think that this could be a small microcosm of what our future roads and transportation will look like. Lofty ideas always seem to start on a small scale, get refined, then pushed to large-scale, mainstream adoption. I’d be willing to bet that behind closed doors, tech companies and autos are building these ecosystems today.

User-Centric Mobility is Here to Stay

How, when, and where we get our goods, services, and experiences is changing daily. What we do know with great certainty is that users will continue to be put front-and-center as demand and expectations increase.

“Companies around the world are turning to technology not only to increase customer service, but create new revenue streams and increased profit margins.”

It’s a time where complacency is the first step to failure. Those willing to invest in strategic digital innovation initiatives will certainly be primed for success.

Let’s Continue the Conversation

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