Driving a business model with user needs

We're approaching the end of a very successful project and in this post we want to share some of the high level drivers for our future business model. Our underpinning rationale comes from unmet user needs which in turn indicate an opportunity still exists in the public transport information market which we're keen to exploit. 

Our research found that current mobile device Apps for public transport information do not meet diverse user needs nor are they flexible enough for many new commercial opportunities. On analysis we found this is caused by the dominance of two ubiquitous contemporary design approaches. 

The first is where constraints that undermine the user experience have been introduced by design for either technical or commercial reasons, one very common example being limiting public transport information by a specific geographic area or region. Another is only covering the timetable and realtime information for one specific transport service operator. Users of public transport don't think in these ways, they don't want to split a single journey into two or more journeys to suit the industry, and they almost never can carry an accurate mental model of a transport operators geographical range of services. 

The second is where transport information is treated as an extension of a global mapping application, for example a specific planning and guidance mode, forcing users to always consider public transport as extension of a mapping problem and to physically interact via a map even when they have no wish to do so.

By taking a user needs-led design approach to providing public transport information with the Commuter mobile App we found that we can redress fundamental design issues such as these. In doing so we address outstanding needs for total personal data privacy, graceful degradation to enable planning while offline, dynamic expansion of geographic regions, and customisation of journey plans.

We also demonstrate flexibility that can drive new business models. With one example we have shown how an Internet of Things (IoT) approach can contribute to driving down costs for local authorities in the provision of high quality transport services. For this Commuter integrated to the oneTRANSPORT platform for analysis of transport user digital survey data showing how organisations can benefit from user feedback through targeted travel surveys via Commuter while fully respecting end user anonymity, and dramatically lowering their costs through a digital replacement for fieldwork surveys.

By grounding the work in user needs we have discovered a solid basis for describing value in a crowded market, this gives us the start of a viable service offering.