Cloud computing has been around for long enough to become another cliché of business technology discourse; no one is surprised by it any more. But how about cloud transportation? Not actually floating on clouds, but the concept of applying the same principles of cloud computing to the actual structure of the transportation industry. It is not longer science fiction to imagine the integration of transportation services: the riders, drivers and operators with a cloud based system.
It begins with the proliferation of smartphone applications. Apps are designed to work in the cloud because they are used in dispersed geographic locations and they are expected to work intuitively and instantly with users. Sophisticated apps can feed rich data seamlessly into the system, and they can communicate instructions from the system back to users.
Not all systems can do this, they need to be specifically developed with operations like this in mind. Phil Wainewright illustrates the difference between cloud based, Software as a Service (SaaS), and traditional IT solutions with an apt analogy, he explains that we are still in the: “horseless carriage era of cloud applications.” A hundred years ago early automobiles were seen as carriages that didn’t need horses, those people were missing the potential of automobiles. Phil concludes that “Most people in the IT business see the ‘cloud’ as software that doesn’t need in-house servers.” This is not the full picture.
Here is my own analogy to drive the point across. You could turn an automobile back into a carriage by tying some horses to the front of it. That is a ridiculous and lousy car compared to the ‘horseless’ ones. However this is exactly what many technology companies and their clients try to do. There is a difference between vendors who have designed their software from the start with the cloud in mind and vendors who are trying to put their old legacy software, designed with a client-server background, into a cloud system. The latter vendors are tying a horse to a car and calling it a horseless carriage. There is a term for this: “fork-lifting.” This causes the problem of the unsustainable legacy system that cannot keep up or provide the same level of service that people have come to expect.
What is so great about about a purpose build cloud based system compared to a fork-lifted one?
- It is running on a high-performance, globally connected infrastructure
- It is updated automatically to add new features without disruption to existing settings
- Open APIs and high-bandwidth connectivity make it easy to plug in external resources and functionality like mobile devices, GPS, AVL and more
This argument is not necessarily being made to slag other companies and their kludgy software. I am explaining this to drive home just how powerful a proper cloud based system can be for a transportation company. The cloud is data rich. This data can be feed into an algorithm that is on a secure server, this algorithm can do what a human, or even a team of humans cannot do. It can manage an entire transportation system, constantly at the peak of possible efficiency. This is automation; not a particularly revolutionary concept, but one that never quite worked for transportation because we never had the tools until now. Applying new technology to previously manual jobs is part of the natural evolution of enterprise. It is time to automate people transportation.
If you own or operate a fleet of vehicles, regardless of what industry, you should consider the potential of the cloud and of enterprise software like Pantonium, your competitors will. If you would like a conversation about your specific situation reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation.