Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe AG (KVB), a major German public transportation company struggled with disparate line-of-business (LOB) systems and outdated internal and external communications methods. A Microsoft partner,
adesso helped them improve transparency and customer service through a Business-Critical SharePoint solution by connecting SharePoint with existing LOB systems.
Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe AG (KVB) is the public transportation company in Köln (Cologne), Germany with more than 3,000 employees. KVB is providing transportation for 850,000 people on a daily basis.
Challenges of Public Transportation Systems
||We expect a 5% improvement in modal share* in favor of the public transportation system due to lowering the thresholds.
| Susanne Zeidler-Goll
Head of Public Relations, Internal Communications and New Media
As the metropolitan areas grow, the public transportation system is expected to optimize its processes and its efficiency in order to remain competitive. The main competitor of the public transportation system is the individual car. Studies have shown that
most customers (89 %) of the public transportation system in Germany are unsatisfied with the information policy of public transportation systems.** This means, that in time-sensitive situations, individual transportation is often preferred over public transportation
usage. One key challenge for a public transportation company, such as KVB, is providing up-to-date information to customers about any delays or schedule changes. The same information also allows the company to plan alternative routes. On the other hand, the
lack of up-to-date information about changes can lead to customer dissatisfaction and loss of customers who revert back to using their cars. Public transportation systems need to be as efficient, reliable, and transparent as possible in order to remove obstacles
and to make it worth for the public to choose them over the convenience of their own cars.
Disparate IT Systems
While KVB has a Content Management System (CMS) for their website, the connectivity of this CMS to other systems is very limited. Furthermore, KVB has another line-of-business (LOB) system for the control station which coordinates the daily operating schedule,
registers and tracks any delays or changes in schedule.
In case of a sudden delay, customers can access information about the changes via two information channels, either via the website or via information screens in several subway stations. However, neither one is a convenient solution for the public. For example,
to be able to learn about a delay, the customer has to be at a station equipped with a screen, while bus stations rarely have them. Alternatively, they can view the KVB website, which is however not designed for mobile devices, so gathering information about
any delays is not a user-friendly experience.
While KVB already had SharePoint deployed, but they were primarily using it for the basics, such as document sharing and not leveraging it to its full capacity.
In order to improve efficiency and modernize existing systems without rip and replace, KVB hired adesso AG, a Microsoft partner to develop a Business-Critical SharePoint solution by connecting SharePoint with other LOB systems, such as the CMS and the control
station application. In the new information architecture, SharePoint serves as the central information hub for messages within various KVB departments and between KVB and their customers.
Information Hub with Up-to-Date Data
The new information hub creates the possibility to spread information among several end-points such as SharePoint applications, web parts, mail or mobile devices. The information hub can be queried with additional parameters like location data or custom settings
by the user. Future solutions, such as a Windows phone application could use push notifications to give instant information to various departments within the company and to the public. For example, now in case of a delay, the control station can share the
control station application data with various internal teams, such as the marketing departments and bus drivers via SharePoint and externally with the customers.
Streamlining Communication Channels
The Business-Critical SharePoint solution provides an information hub which connects to several data sources and provides data to several endpoints. Now the marketing department can send information through the same channel as the control station, although
the authoring will be still in separated systems. The customer does not recognize the different authoring systems – it will receive all messages in the same way.
Mobile Access and Transparency
SharePoint not only connects to the control station software, but also to other input channels, such as the marketing department, providing an aggregated information interface for the different types of messages. This interface, a web service, can be used by
several consuming applications like an application or a web part in SharePoint, a mobile device or any other kind of terminal which is able to consume the created web service. Now a customer standing in a bus station can look up the KVB website on their smartphones
and get up-to-date information on the arrival of the next bus.
Improving Productivity, Customer Service, and Revenue
Connecting the scheduling system to a SharePoint hosted website helps improve the timeliness and quality of information provided to the public via the SharePoint mobile channel. A website providing services helps improve the relationship of KVB and their customers.
By optimizing information transparency with SharePoint, KVB expects a rise in customer satisfaction and – in the long run – as obstacles for usage are reduced, even a rise in customer numbers due to the improved information service levels.
Business-Critical SharePoint (BCSP) is a Microsoft partner program for top solution and service providers who focus on advanced SharePoint scenarios, including
* Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_share
** Source (in German): http://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/191994/umfrage/zufriedenheit-mit-der-informationspolitik-waehrend-der-zugfahrt/