Modernizing and unifying transit technology after acquisition
Digital transformation quick fire Q&A with Borut Puklavec of Nomago
Did you catch our recent webinar on digital transformation in public transit? Do not worry if you missed it! You can watch it on-demand here or catch the quick fire Q&A interviews with our panelists in a snappy 10 minute read.
Here we bring you Borut Puklavec, CTO at Nomago – one of the largest bus operators in the CEE region in Europe.
Thanks for joining us Borut, please could you introduce yourself?
I am the Chief Technology Officer at Nomago, one of the largest mobility companies in the CEE region. We have more than 1,000 employees and over 700 vehicles in operation across 30 locations in Slovenia, Croatia and Northern Italy.
Over the years we have brought together 12 different bus operators and travel agencies, and I am responsible for consolidating, managing and progressing all technology aspects across the business. We now operate 5 main business lines: Regional Public Transport, InterCity, Charter, City & Micro Mobility and Travel.
It sounds like it could be a complex technology environment, can you tell us more?
Yes. We have a “mixed approach”. In order to quickly benefit from the best solutions available, we combine out of the box solutions with our own in-house development and development partners. Of course, integration between the systems is an important element.
When we started on the modernization project 3 years ago, the legacy IT was poor and outdated with a lot of manual processes and in some business lines inadequate customer support. We analyzed and reused the healthy aspects and carefully integrated rich know-how embedded within our ancestor companies.
Do you have different architecture for the different business lines?
As our business is diversified, so is our IT.
For the Charter business we developed our own platform together with developer partners. Similarly, but with more inhouse development, the InterCity Platform follows a classic model for long distance business. Next is our Smart City Platform with micro mobility – for cities that want to get more out of their services. And last but not least we have our Public Transport Solutions.
In Slovenia, we have an integrated public transport system and it is important to be part of this configuration – passengers can buy one ticket and use it across the entire country to travel by train, bus and other modes from various operators.
How did you approach the challenge of unifying so many different systems?
First you need to carefully analyze the existing ecosystem, business environment and processes to see what you can learn from it and what can you reuse. Acquisitors often just merge the new company into main company’s processes, which in my opinion is not optimal. We always unify business processes first and implement new information and communication technology, and after this we carry out the business acquisition.
How to unify so many different systems? After each one you become more experienced…
Today we have all the important elements of modern IT architecture, and the red square with AVL is by LIT Transit.
Some operators completely stopped during pandemic. On the other hand, our customers from Hong Kong have maintained operations throughout. What is the current state of your operations?
One week ago (mid-May 2020) we reinstated regional and city operations. InterCity, charter and travel are still mostly on-hold, with travel getting busier every day.
Our legislator is quite strict regarding restrictions. Only healthy people can enter the bus, masks and disinfection are mandatory. There must be no contact between driver and passenger, passengers must stay or sit at least 1.5 meter apart. Tickets can be bought only in presale, while web and mobile sales are preferred (fortunately, we have both).
We inform passengers in various ways – most of our info points are open and we also have a hotline, also online, with pictograms or video announcements, on the vehicles and on the Papercast e-paper displays on our bus stops.
Many agencies stopped or limited fare collection. Many are considering going contactless. What is your stance?
We are already contactless. Our technology supports both NFC and optical QR code reading. The technology is ready, the bigger challenge is changing passenger habits.
With the advent of new mobility providers and mobility as a service – how do you approach your role as a bus operator in this ecosystem?
We see Nomago as a mobility provider and not an operator in classic sense. We put a lot of our efforts in building solutions like our Charter and InterCity platforms, which are service oriented. Multimodality is something that we are seriously including in our strategy.
In general, I believe operators should be the main ingredient in such ecosystems. Operators have a lot of domain knowledge and experience, which can be highly valuable in building multimodal ecosystems.
A huge thank you to Borut for giving us a view into his world and for his valuable insight. Hear the full discussion to discover new ideas and strategies on how to cope with digital challenges – now available to watch here.