By Alex Gmelin, CPO at INVERS

The auto industry faces serious challenges with digitization and electrification, and has for sure its fair share of controversies, but, when it comes to manufacturing, there’s no denying that auto OEMs have attained a near-perfect level of efficiency and automation. Since the first Model T Fords rolled off the assembly line, car manufacturers have finely honed the process of assembling the right components in the most efficient manner by a highly automated and efficient supply chain. Similarly, Toyota’s Just-in-Time manufacturing model has come to define all modern manufacturing processes. This success has two clear takeaways.

Firstly, car manufacturers have a very clear understanding of what components they need to develop themselves inhouse, and what components they can buy from suppliers and from specialists in order to get the best and most reliable product. Therefore, there are usually huge numbers of suppliers involved in car manufacturing, making the process quite complex. The second lesson is, that despite this complexity, all of this works seamlessly, as car manufacturers have succeeded in creating a seamless supply chain process that makes all the different components and suppliers involved work flawlessly together like clockwork.

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The context of shared mobility

Similar to auto manufacturing, running a shared mobility business successfully is also a matter of assembling numerous “components”, both physical (e.g. the vehicle) and digital (e.g. sharing software), together. However, this relatively young industry is increasingly learning that not all “components” need to be developed in-house. Not every start-up has to start from scratch. Quite the contrary! As speed to market is important, the questions to ask are: what are the differentiating components that have to be proprietary – the part where operators have to wow their customers? And where does it make sense to rely on using best-in-class solutions from third party suppliers in order to achieve cost efficiency in operations, go to market faster, or offer a better service to customers?

On a more granular level, there are further decisions that need to be made, starting with what type of vehicles to offer. How to keep them in good shape? How to make them available at the right place at the right time? Then, it comes to figuring out which telematics and connectivity solution to use for integrating the vehicles into your fleet. This is followed by, how should your sharing tech stack be setup in the backend? This to mean, you will have to choose from a variety of software tools and services such as fleet data management, customer relationship management, troubleshooting, payment processes, maintenance planning, rebalancing the fleet, or battery management. And last, but not least, the booking software and sharing app for the end user, where the user journey starts and a substantial part of the customer experience is created.

Reliability is not a side business

To operate a shared mobility fleet successfully, we at Invers believe that ensuring the highest level of reliability across all your business components and processes is key. You cannot compromise on reliability. At the same time, you need to differentiate. Hence, as an operator, you have to identify the key components and processes that help you deliver competitive advantage. This is where you have to focus your in-house resources, with developers dedicated to building unique reliable solutions. As with the car manufacturing example, everything else besides these core competencies that set you apart should be efficiently outsourced to reliable and proven third-party suppliers.

So, what differentiates shared mobility services? Based on our experience working in the space for over two decades, the areas that matter are those that enhance the customer experience – the wow effect. These include the registration and booking process as part of the end user app, as well as aspects such as the choice of vehicle and the trip experience. Additionally, tariffs and offers are an important way to set a service apart.

Alongside these, there are other factors that – while vitally important – don’t really set a service apart, yet they must work reliably and uninterrupted, such as the payment process, customer services and troubleshooting, and the telematics and connectivity solution. Relying on third-party providers to take care of these tasks or supply these components gives operators the space and freedom to work on their core competency and differentiation. As these third-party solution providers not only come with many years of experience, but with dedicated teams focusing solely on perfecting their respective solutions, they also add to the quality of services that might not be differentiating, but are very complex. Providing these services with the highest level of reliability is not just a side business.

Curious to continue the conversation with Alex? Join Invers at Autonomy Digital 2.0, where Alex will discuss pathways to success for shared mobility players, May 19 at 11:20 a.m. CEST. Register today