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Taking the pain out of public transportation


Do you remember the days of traveling with a pocketful of coins, just so that you could ride the city bus? Do you remember when yellow cabs only accepted cash? What about the days when your train ticket had to be purchased each day? Fortunately for anyone using public transportation, the days of worrying about loose change or carrying cash have instead been replaced by digital technologies that make traveling in the city an easier experience.

Over the past decade, public transportation has reduced friction by leveraging the power of smarter digital technologies like mobile apps and digital displays. Like supply chain partners who are working better together, thanks to the removal of paper and the capture and smart analysis of transaction data, so too are passengers enjoying more frictionless travel thanks to digital transformation.

For instance, London transport app Citymapper has become an indispensable smartphone assistant for time-pressed residents, as well as for tourists who simply need help in an unfamiliar city.  Users can get information on a wide variety of transport options, from buses to bicycles, from taxi to trains, and more. The app allows users to save commonly used routes, and to leverage the saved data from past trips to learn what routes are best at certain times. What’s more, users can compare costs, for instance weighing the expense of a taxi versus a train. Just as Buyers who use Tungsten Network Analytics to save money by making smarter Supplier choices, London commuters can learn from their travel data to make smarter commuting choices.

The complexities of getting around a large metropolis, with its unfamiliar rules and schedules governing various routes, are not unlike the complications involved in ensuring compliance across multiple jurisdictions, where unfamiliar tariffs and regulations apply. As both Tungsten Network customers and Londoners now know, the friction caused by this kind of unfamiliarity is tailor made for automation, whether the solution is e-invoicing or a transport app.

Another friction well known to both P2P and passengers is that caused by contingencies. In P2P, invoice exceptions, like those caused by missing POs, can cause delays in payment. Suppliers who are in the dark about a delayed invoice can face unfortunate cash flow consequences. Just as Invoice Status Service allows them to be alerted to delays and deal with them, so can Citymapper users be apprised of issues with train or bus lines and make alternate plans.

Another mobile app, UK Bus Checker, not only covers all 300,000 bus stops in the UK, allowing riders to check timetables and get live departure times the nearest top, its Stop Alerts wakes dozing passengers when their stop is coming up. Like a procurement officer who receives an automated invoice approval reminder via Tungsten Network Workflow, a bus passenger who might once have asked the driver to remind him of the stop can now rely on automation to be reminded, leaving drivers to focus on driving.

The automation of the ticketing transaction is one innovation that most metropolitan residents have come to take for granted. The digital pass card, in use on most major US public transportation systems, allow tickets to be purchased through automated kiosks or online, saving time as well as manpower. Consequently public transportation authorities, like AP departments that have automated their invoicing, can redeploy valued staff strategically, while the machines take the friction out of manual processes.

Whether it’s in the supply chain or in the pockets of commuters, paper slows down everything it touches. Thanks to the removal of paper and the capture of data, working capital is moving more  frictionlessly through the supply chain. Cities too are becoming more efficient, and the removal of friction from public transportation is playing a major role. Together, Buyers, Suppliers and passengers are leaving behind slow, manual processes to arrive at the frictionless future.


About the author

Andrew Nichols

Andrew Nichols is the Head of Analytics and Procurement at Tungsten Network. With 19 years of experience in global companies and a track record of delivering both savings and business change programmes, resulting in significant quantifiable business improvements, Andrew is an expert on procurement data analytics.



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