In brief

In brief

  • Each year, Accenture assesses the IT landscape to identify trends that will have the greatest impact on organizations in the years ahead.
  • Accenture’s 2019 Technology Vision study included a survey of 130 leaders in the passenger transportation sector from 12 countries.
  • We found that 94 percent of transportation executives are experimenting with new technologies to unlock growth in the post-digital age.
  • Four opportunities, in particular, hold tremendous potential.

The future is closer than you think

What distinguishes winners in the transportation sector today is not their technologies, but how they use their technologies to meet the needs and expectations of customers, employees and business partners. In this regard, technologies of the past—social, mobility, analytics and cloud—still play a critical role. But new technologies—artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and augmented reality, to name a few—are gaining ground. Fast.

When these technologies are applied in innovative and combinatorial ways, we will see a fundamental shift—not only in how transportation services are managed and secured, but also in how travelers experience and navigate the world.

Four opportunities hold particular potential.

Opportunity 1: First-to-last-mile service

New technologies can unlock the potential value of Mobility-as-a-Service solutions that cover passengers’ end-to-end travel needs. AI opens up opportunities in multiple areas—from route optimization to congestion mitigation. Extended reality can help trip planners visualize alternate routes. And autonomous vehicles—built on Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, AI and augmented reality solutions—will one day soon provide economical and convenient transportation services for passengers looking to travel to and from transit hubs.

Opportunity 2: Seamless convenience

When customers use public transportation, they are more than just passengers. They are unique markets of one—individuals looking to enhance their travel experience. With advances in technology, transportation companies can make traveling more convenient and less disruptive. Digital payments, chatbot-based customer service, enhanced loyalty programs and in-transit services are now possible.

Transportation leaders provide experiences that not only make transit journeys more enjoyable, but keep passengers coming back again and again.

Emerging technologies are creating new opportunities for transportation organizations looking to improve their operations, business performance and customer experiences.


Of transportation executives agree that integrating customized services and real-time delivery will usher in the next wave of competitive advantage.


Believe the combination of new technologies will lead to extensive or transformational change in their organizations over the next three years.

Opportunity 3: Passenger safety and data/network security

In transportation, the issue of security has two facets. There is the security and safety of passengers during their journey. Then there is the security of customer data, as well as the operational and network data that is the lifeblood of a transit organization’s operations. Transportation organizations must industrialize both.

For passenger safety, video analytics, computer vision, virtual reality and AI can be combined to monitor transportation environments as never before. In the area of data security, AI can be applied to detect cyberattacks, malware and suspicious user identities. Network security is more challenging and requires the security of every digital asset—and every connection between that asset and the network ecosystem.

Opportunity 4: Asset management and optimization

New technologies make it possible for transportation companies to rethink how they manage and maintain their assets and operations. AI, big data analytics, machine learning and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) can be combined to optimize transit schedules and, equally important, recalibrate schedules and routes if a disruption occurs. Extended reality solutions can optimize maintenance outcomes by allowing employees to practice repairs in virtual surroundings and even receive real-time, virtual instructions. Quantum computing, still in its infancy, will give operators even more capacity to process millions, if not billions, of sensor readings and data inputs every second.

All aboard!

To take advantage of these opportunities, companies must:

  • Carefully choose the opportunities to target—and, just as important, the ones not to target. Start by defining the outcomes that would benefit the organization and passengers most.
  • Define what it means to be post-digital—and then bypass the competition by changing the way mobility solutions and transportation operations are designed and delivered.
  • Embrace new technologies that will drive the post-digital wave of innovation and breakthrough business outcomes.

Companies that set their course for the post-digital future today will be the first to arrive. They will be the first to experience and benefit from the future vision of transportation.

About the Authors

Alden Cuddihey

Managing Director – Rail and Transit Global

Michael English

Managing Director – Rail and Transit, North America Lead

Pierre-Olivier Desmurs

Managing Director – Rail and Transit Global Lead

Claudio Bacalhau

Managing Director – Rail and Transit AAPAC

Theo Forbath

Managing Director - Technology Advisory Products Lead


Technology Vision 2019
Rail and transit: Enterprise security strategies
Rail transport is reinventing for the digital age

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