By means of the Job Ticket scheme, many companies already offer their employees the option of using public transport at discounted rates. With the Mobility Budget (German only), Deutsche Bahn now wants to raise the private mobility of employees to the next level. The idea behind this innovative product is relatively simple: Employees receive from their employer a specified monthly mobility budget – paid out on top of their existing salary. Using this, they finance their own completely individual mix of mobility comprising underground and suburban trains, rental bicycles, railcard or – if it should rain again – a car-sharing vehicle.
The required transport link is searched for, booked and paid for via the Mobility Budget app. If the required provider (e.g. a taxi company) cannot yet be booked directly with the app, users can scan in their receipt using the application and settle it using their Mobility Budget. Thanks to the app, employees can always keep an eye on their current budget. The amount of Mobility Budget that is used is paid back to the employee on their payslip at the end of the month. Employers also benefit from this employee incentive, by using a smart product to present themselves as an innovative company when competing for the best talent.
How does the Business Hub now get involved with the Mobility Budget, a joint project between DB Connect and DB Fernverkehr? The Business Hub is the basis for the development of the Mobility Budget app. For this reason, DB Systel is also fully involved in the project and is investing in new services that are suitable for developing the Business Hub and establishing it as a solution platform. This is because the Mobility Budget is an extremely appropriate example for applying the possibilities of the new platform. To some extent, the platform can be imagined as a kind of Lego kit. It contains both standard components, such as a service for matching the address data or displaying points of interest, but also special components for a quite individual purpose.
All the required building blocks can now be rearranged as desired. With Lego, individual parts – without changing in themselves – can be made into a house or an aeroplane. In the Business Hub an application can be created that combines weather data with train information, or – just as in the case of the Mobility Budget – makes various mobility providers available to the employees and offers the possibility of booking and paying for journeys conveniently via the app. In the joint project, working in two teams, DB Systel therefore, on the one hand, implements a cross-platform application (Android and iOS) and all the new services required by the application on the Business Hub. Among other things, this created the “Shared Mobility Information” service. This is a service that combines and delivers all relevant information, from Flinkster and Call a Bike, for example.
When new services are being developed, DB Systel prepares all data and functionalities to be as reusable as possible, in order to make them easily accessible to other interested customers. DB Fernverkehr and DB Connect in turn are concerned with the external impact, the fiscal aspects, as well as the marketing and sales. In addition, DB Connect provides the interfaces to Call a Bike and Flinkster. “In this three-way arrangement for this project we are standing shoulder to shoulder and complement one other wherever we can”, says managing director Sylvia Lier (DB Connect), on the subject of the collaboration with Cornelia Rauh-Lessig (Project Manager for ‘Mobility Budget’ at DB Fernverkehr) and Christa Koenen (Managing Director, DB Systel).
Advise, integrate and make new things possible
DB Systel understands the challenges of the mobility providers, advises them in the design of their specialist visions and can use these platform functions and services set up through the Business Hub efficiently and effectively to implement corresponding digitalisation solutions. And the model of advice and collaboration that is set up around the Business Hub is also accepted by customers and partners. “The Business Hub is one of the best things that could happen to Deutsche Bahn at present”, enthuses Fabian Rothmann, Product Owner (PO) of the “Mobi” case team, which develops the Mobility Budget app. He immediately substantiates his claim: “With the Business Hub we are able to open the silos in the group, let each other participate in our specialist area of knowledge and thus finally exploit the potential of our interfaces.” At present, every group subsidiary is sitting on valuable data, known internally as “DB nuggets”. With the Business Hub this should now change, in line with the self-declared principle of DB Systel to be an “Integrator and Enabler”, in other words, to integrate what already exists in order to facilitate something new. Fabian Rothmann also knows that such a fundamental change does not take place overnight. Nevertheless he is confident: “I personally hope very much that the potential of the hub will be perceived as an enormous opportunity for us as a Group.”
With the Business Hub we are able to open the silos in the group, let each other participate in our specialist areas of knowledge and thus finally exploit the potential of our interfaces.
And the bandwidth of possibilities is vast. For example, we can integrate internal data such as route information, external information on points of interest, but also tools for payment services, into the applications. The speed with which new services and business models are created with agile development is extremely high. The reason: the Business Hub already offers a technical infrastructure that can be used in the development of new projects and services – including, for example, the automatic roll-out of the software or a test environment.
Above all, however, existing services from the connected API Portal can also be attached to new projects. This enables considerable development costs to be saved for all subsequent projects. Initial costs at the start of the project are lower, thanks to the existing environment and, due to the reusability of services, parts of the business logic do not even have to be developed, but merely used. The result: the purchase order for the project was awarded in March. Within less than four months a team had been set up, several services developed, and a prototype for the Mobility Budget app had been designed. This is impressive proof of how fast development has become through the use of the Business Hub and the agile development methodology. “For us, the Business Hub was by far the best opportunity for implementing the Mobility Budget app so quickly and at such high quality”, confirms the client, Sylvia Lier explaining: “Who else but DB Connect uses sharing solutions? We all benefit from existing solutions that can continue to be used – in other words, shared – by many. That’s what I call efficiency!“