European high-speed rail service Eurostar has been looking ahead, and Christophe Lemaire, chief information officer (CIO) has given an interesting interview with ComputerWorld.
The interview discusses the rail operator's broad information technology challenges, such as plans to move to cloud computing. Eurostar also plans to move to a new reservation system, as it's currently burdened with one bequeathed by French rail operator SNCF but that isn't appropriate for the company's slimmer-sized, fast-paced needs.
The interview also includes some insights about the company's online distribution and marketing plans, which is what will interest Tnooz readers more. Some highlights:
The rail industry needs to find a way to allow more seamless ticketing on complex routes between countries and across systems. Says Lemaire:
"The airline industry has been international from its early days, and has been growing around international standards.
The rail industry background has always been a lot more 'domestic' with everyone finding their own solutions which were the best adapted to their context and their strategy.
No one is right or wrong, but when you start connecting services, things necessarily become complex.
Think that in France you must book your seat before travelling on a TGV, when in Germany most of the tickets are open.
The airline industry is in a way lucky not to have to manage this heterogeneity and complexity."
The rail industry needs to embrace new ways of selling tickets.
"Ticket distribution is of paramount importance to us and we need to be prepared to allow someone like Google to distribute our tickets.
All of these are new ways of accessing our products. If it is simpler to buy our products in this way, I am happy with that.
Our role is make sure people can make the right decisions with the best information presented in the best way."
Customer information may be the most important information rail operators have.
"One of the main things is the importance of the data.
Do we know what is the most important piece of information we have about you is? If we can say we know a lot about our customers, knowing people's booking preferences, I am sure there are interesting thing we can do with it.
We need to go further, use social media and see trending patterns."
As Tnooz has previously reported, Eurostar has recently experimented with a social media campaign and a mobile app.
The full interview is over at ComputerWorld.
NBEurostar image courtesy of Wikipedia.