"By adopting future-proof cloud technologies, we can bring onboard entertainment and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) capabilities to rail passengers worldwide."
Customer experience is an intrinsic part of the rail industry, with constant tech advancements triggering new ways to solve constant problems like travel updates and passenger comfort.
To discuss those issues, we sat down with Egor Ermakov, Chief Technology Officer at GoMedia, to explore the future developments in MaaS, journey updates, onboard entertainment, and more,
First off, a bit of background: How did you start your current career path, and what does your new position as Chief Technology Officer entail?
I’ve always been interested in computers -- I had my first job in IT while I was still at university as a system administrator for a small business, managing their FreeBSD based server, and later in my career I started working for a company which was trading on the New York Stock Exchange. It was there I had my first experience as a software engineer, writing different tools to help traders with their daily tasks.
I see my new position as Chief Technology Officer at GoMedia as a real opportunity to impact how we use technology, as well as build our engineering teams. I am also excited about our transition to the cloud and our cloud native development approach -- by adopting future-proof cloud technologies, we can bring onboard entertainment and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) capabilities to rail passengers worldwide.
How has the rail industry changed since you started working in it?
For rail, the main trend I have seen is a steady increase in the connectivity speed of local networks onboard, with more storage and computing power. Train companies increasingly want to invest in onboard hardware so they can provide additional value to their passengers, be that in the form of infotainment, personalised passenger information services, or in-seat ordering.
I believe this trend will continue and onboard wifi will become a key part of the core customer engagement strategy for train operators. They’ll also be able to request relevant usage data from their passengers in order to tailor and develop their onboard offering.
Are there any past projects you're proud of? Are there any upcoming ones you're excited about?
I am incredibly proud of our Transport DRM (Digital Rights Management) product, which offers offline streaming of premium content to the UK rail industry. This enables our customers to provide their passengers with Hollywood content on their smart device without expensive investment into in-seat screens.
Looking ahead, I am excited about the continuing integration of PPIS (Personalised Passenger Information Service) in our core product offering. PPIS is the UK rail industry’s first real-time customer information solution, using live data to update customers on the status of their journeys, including accurate arrival and departure times, relevant platform numbers, and onward travel options.
How does GoMedia plan to further its plans regarding MaaS?
We recognise the real benefits of MaaS -- both for the industry and for passengers -- and are currently working with several private hire companies to integrate first-and-last mile options into our platform. It is our vision for passengers to require one single point of contact for the whole of their journey: using technology to first establish the quickest or quietest route for them, access entertainment, and track their journey live whilst onboard the train, and finally book a taxi or check bus/coach times to their final destination.
What industry challenges do you identify as the most pressing ones, and how can GoMedia help the sector overcome it?
The price of distributing high-quality content to large transport fleets certainly presents cost challenges for the industry. At GoMedia, we are building solutions to overcome this issue, including providing edge-services at stations and secure content delivery via encrypted USB memory sticks.
What's the biggest professional challenge you've ever faced?
One of the biggest challenges was the transition in my career from spending the majority of my day writing code, to managing people and meeting customers. When you are writing code you can see results very quickly, but when you are managing people, projects often have a longer timeframe and the goals can often change. You may not see results for a considerable amount of time, but it’s incredibly rewarding when the team comes together to find a solution.
Finally, a question we ask all our interviewees: what's your favourite rail journey in the world, and why?
My favourite rail journey is the Eurostar between London and Paris. A few years ago, I watched a documentary on how the Eurotunnel was built and how it created a direct physical connection between the UK and France. Every time I travel on this route, I know I am enjoying a journey made possible by great feats of engineering. I wish there were more engineering projects like this which connect countries.
To find out more about the latest developments on MaaS, journey updates, onboard entertainment, and more, book your ticket now and join us at SmartTransit LA, on October 28-30th.