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MaaS is beer

Originally posted on LinkedIn:

An inspiring debate on MaaS was kicked off by David Zipper recently with all the key players of the ecosystem chiming in and giving their view on the topic. I’ve been reading those post with great interest and feel honoured to be mentioned by Krista as one of the players of the heavy metal MaaS band. It also triggered me to write my own little view on MaaS. I tried extending the analogy of the heavy metal band but even though I love all kinds of music, as a Belgian my strength is in making everything in life-related to beers. So here’s my take on MaaS from a Belgian beer perspective.

One of the things that keep on returning in all the discussions is the various business models which are possible. Just like with beers, MaaS will come in many flavours and tastes depending on the local situation and preference of the user but the basic ingredients are the same: water (PT), hops and malted grains (other modes), yeast (active mobility) and some secret ingredients. Based on these elements, an unlimited number of beers can be made. There’s a lot of knowledge on how the whole logistical flow (data) works to get the ingredients to the MaaS-breweries. We’ve figured out ways to improve the quality of the ingredients along the way even though the farmers in the field are holding on to their old ways of doing things a bit too hard but overall most elements are clear and we know where the opportunities and threads are in our supply chain.

In the MaaS community we’ve been discussing recipes, creating initial brews to test, exchanged knowledge on the various ingredients and made ourselves perfect brewmasters. We’ve even created a couple of wonderful full-flavoured beers that are even ready for the bigger audience but it seems like we’ve collectively forgotten that we haven’t brought the tasteful beer to the longing user. We’ve shown him the label, we’ve talked about how wonderful and great our beer is and he/she is ready to taste it but we haven’t put a lot of thought in how to get it to that user.

Even though there are still many improvements we can make to the recipes we’re creating, it is important to also start a discussion about the glass. The glass is what gives the beer that extra touch, that extra oxygen when poured, that extra feel that makes that beer special but most of all it makes it possible to drink the beer and enjoy its full taste. I think we have to focus on how we can get our wonderful MaaS beer of Trappist quality to the user. Currently the only thing we have is a plastic cup. With Smart Ways to Antwerp we’ve been trying to bring MaaS (B2C, B2B, B2X) to the users in various ways for the past years but the main challenge is the general understanding of what MaaS is and what the MaaS potential is. We need better storytelling, shared user stories and user advocates (waiters?) who bring the beer to the customer. The MaaS-alliance is already doing a great job their to make policy makers more aware of MaaS and bring together all the players but a combined communication strategy towards those consumers is still lacking. I don’t have a clear view on how the glass should look and which labels should be on it yet so I look forward to some of the concept sketches and co-create that set of MaaS glasses.

One last thing that should still be added to this beer analogy is the pub. Even is we get access to the best ingredients, have optimised the logistical flow, creating the best beer in the world in a glass that lifts the beer even higher, a lot of our efforts will be in vain if we don’t have the right environment to consume the beer. The bar is the public domain, the vehicles are the chairs and the tables. If busses don’t run on time or regularly; if vehicles are broken; if cycle paths are non-existing; … If the whole mobility user experience is not of top-level, that wonderful beer we’ve created will be worthless. We can improve the experience by adding some music (like MaaS integrated in a banking app) but it’ll be just some varnish. So, just as with some of the pubs owned by breweries, I believe as a MaaS-community we also have to push hard for better basic infrastructure. MaaS is sometimes uses as “the saviour” for mobility but we have to make sure we’re not getting used as an excuse to not invest more/better in the basics of infrastructure.

I’m happy that I’ve been able to taste a lot of the MaaS-flavors already served in that wonderful glass that is Smart Ways to Antwerp and I look forward shaping this whole beer/MaaS experience with all of you. Let’s push this whole experience forward!