Cape Town, South Africa.
Three million commuters use the metro rail on a daily basis in South Africa. The underdeveloped public transportation system has frequent delays, however there are no notifications of cancellations or changes in the schedule due to the fact that there are no sources of real time travel information. The South African startup, GoMetro, provides commuters with mobile services through the mobile web, apps, socials networks and sms-services and thereby they connect transit operators with commuters who are at the center of the platform. Commuters in their turn log on to the platform and share their real time location, stops, delays and any cancelations. In return GoMetro can provide and exchange real-time arrival and departure information, current locations of vehicles, early notifications of operational breakdowns and travel disruptions of the public transportation system. Hereby, GoMetro, transit operators and commuters co-create value through the sharing of real time data information creating a platform using a customer-centric approach.
Although GoMetro started in South African cities with underdeveloped transportation systems, the scope of the business model reaches much further. Personal mobile devices are being used and have changed information distribution paradigms, however they have not yet been used in the public transportation domain (Nunes, Galvao and Cunha, 2014). When consumers interact with service providers, in this case GoMetro, a win-win situations is created. This business model incorporates three different roles for the commuters in the co-creation of value; they need to use the information, provide real time information and validate given information (Nunes, Galvao and Cunha, 2014). This business model can be used in many different countries and cities, as the use of mobile devices has risen substantially over the recent years and will continue to do so (Emarketer.com, 2018).
The three parties involved in the platform of GoMetro are the commuters, the transit companies and GoMetro itself, each creating value with each other as to create joint profitability. The commuters create value through sharing the real time travel data and use the travel data of others, thereby creating value for the platform as a whole. The transit companies can provide incentives such as discounts on travel fares for the commuters, as to incentivize them to share their travel data. GoMetro contributes by the creation of the platform and bringing all users together so they can co-create value, in return they make money through advertisements on the platform. The creation and development is done in cooperation with Intel, who provide technical support and insights. All these elements are linked to the customer-centricity of the platform and the interaction between the parties creates joint profitability for all players involved.
The institutional environment GoMetro faces in South African cities has been positive ever since GoMetro started with the idea. With millions of people commuting each day in South Africa and many cannot afford a car themselves, efficient public transportation could be a lifesaver. GoMetro helps to improve the efficiency and commuters adopt the platform in large numbers, as already near to a million people are registered users. Looking at the support the company is getting from both governmental institutions as well as private companies the platform seems to be beneficial for all. Increasing the use of public transportation in the big South African cities helps to reduce the use of private cars, air pollution and frees up space in the cities, as less cars enter the urban areas. All these elements contribute to a more efficient infrastructure of large cities. Having no legal boundaries or complications, makes the institutional environment even more advantageous for the platform of GoMetro.
One drawback is the issue of privacy concerns. Sharing real time personal travel information reveals where you are at a given moment in time and this captures valuable information which can also be used for undesirable purposes. Consumers have to consider whether sharing their real time travel data is worth the costs of sharing private information with the platform. As long as the benefits outweigh the costs, the platform has a sustainable business model and a bright future (Karwatzki et al., 2017).
The extent to which the business model of co-creating value by customers sharing their real time travel information with a platform can reach is yet to be determined. The need for a more efficient public transportation system and the willingness of commuters to share their real time travel data are the least requirements for the business model to succeed. ‘As cities grow, they are in need of a flexible mobility platform to service their mobility needs’ (Justin Coutzee, Founder of GoMetro, 2016). Big cities in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are likely to adopt such business models as they want to improve the way people move within their urban areas.
Nunes, A., Galvao, T. and Cunha, J. (2014). Urban Public Transport Service Co-creation: Leveraging Passenger’s Knowledge to Enhance Travel Experience. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 111, pp.577-585.
Emarketer.com. (2018). Mobile Phone, Smartphone Usage Varries Globally – eMarketer. [online] Available at: https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Mobile-Phone-Smartphone-Usage-Varies-Globally/1014738 [Accessed 13 Feb. 2018].
Karwatzki, S., Dytynko, O., Trenz, M. and Veit, D. (2017). Beyond the Personalization–Privacy Paradox: Privacy Valuation, Transparency Features, and Service Personalization. Journal of Management Information Systems, 34(2), pp.369-400.