4th October 2017

Developing a sustainable commercial approach

Matt Goodstadt, Managing Director for Transport at Civica, discusses the future of public sector transport and the commercial opportunities which lie ahead

What particular trends are you seeing in the current fleet market?
The pace of change is really accelerating with new technologies having a huge impact on the future of UK transportation. We are now seeing the widespread use of telematics information; for example from insurance companies to manage premiums, electric vehicles hitting the mainstream, the idea of autonomous HGV’s for trunk haulage and huge retailers such as Amazon considering robot carts and drones for local deliveries. As a technology supplier within the fleet sector, it’s certainly an exciting time for Civica to be developing the automated technology and software our customers need to remain competitive in the future.

How are your public sector transport customers faring in today’s climate? 
The constant challenge to ‘do more with less’ is pushing some to the limit. In fact a recent report from the Local Government Information Unit, surveying councils in England and Wales, found that more than 40% anticipate making frontline services cuts which will be evident to the public, while three quarters had little or no confidence in the sustainability of local government finances. 

While simply maintaining frontline services is an achievement in itself, the majority of public sector organisations are already embracing more commercial ways of working, and intensifying their endeavours beyond cost cutting to also commercialise certain services as part of a drive to increase revenues. In my opinion, transport is, and will continue to be, a key area for commercialisation, generating new income and helping to plug this funding gap. Today’s transport departments have the necessary infrastructure and technical skills in place to operate within a range of commercial ventures.

What would be the strongest approach to new services and income generation?
It’s paramount that public sector organisations find the right strategy which will deliver genuine and reliable returns while supporting community priorities. Organisations must think innovatively, consider the role of trading and make the most of existing assets and partnerships. They should also review opportunities to share and sell services amongst peers as well as how digital technology can drive efficiencies and new revenue streams.

Local transport departments have the skills and infrastructure to offer a range of complex services to businesses and citizens alike. They can handle most types of vehicle and plant repair and are used to delivering complex agreements. They also have vast experience within specifying and procuring vehicles and can offer a full fleet-managed service to other public and private organisations. Local authorities could also take away the administrative pain of driver licence checks, as well as opening their pool fleets for short rentals, especially if located in busy urban areas. 

It’s vital to conduct a full review of existing technology within any transport department, to see what development is needed to deliver better services, such as online quotes, cashless payments, and, more importantly, market services in our mobile-first, social-media driven world.

What do you most enjoy about working at Civica in the transport industry?
The transport industry is fast-paced and constantly changing in this digital era and it’s really exciting to be at the forefront of driving digital innovation for the sector. At Civica, I get the opportunity to working with a diverse range of transport customers to develop new software and products which meet their needs – both now and for the future – alongside supporting their continuous journey towards ever-more sustainable commercial models. Ultimately, those with a healthy appetite for risk and attitude to change, while setting a clear commercial vision and resourcing for growth, will fare the best in our future public sector landscape.