Network Rail has worked with DXC Technology to create a fully mobile workforce that cut administrative costs by 40 percent and is now working with the IT services company to find further ways to digitise rail operations and maintenance.
DXC Technology wants to help modernise the UK's rail industry and find savings that can be invested in future digital projects that improve customer satisfaction and business processes.
"Our agenda is to help them do that but we also have ideas for innovation where, when they make savings, they’ll reinvest that money back, because those savings are not just in better IT, they're actually things that will improve customer satisfaction, business model innovation and business process transformation," Sukhi Gill, chief technology officer at DXC Technology told Computerworld UK at the Hacktrain event this week.
As an ongoing partner of Network Rail, DXC has been working with the industry leader on a broad innovation programme.
“We want to reach out to people with great ideas and take a look at what they've done to combine it with the current projects. We're already demonstrating this with Network Rail to see how we can progress this to a pilot, because that’s ultimately where the challenge is with crossing the line between innovations," said Gill.
In 2017, DXC supported Network Rail's move from paper-based operations to a fully mobile workforce. The transformation has enabled more than 13,000 railway maintenance workers and engineers to use iOS devices for daily tasks.
According to DXC, this led to a 40 percent reduction in administrative costs.
"We are in the business of supporting a customer that is responsible for the railway line, so we try and understand that business to an extent, in an unconstrained way where we can say: 'these are the kind of projects that should be in your portfolio'," Gill said.
Gill explained how efforts are being made to deliver projects with a partner or even startups. DXC often provides a partner with expertise in a particular area depending on the type of project in progress.
The ideas are then piloted to test the maturity of the technology and explore its business value.
"Some of the things that we do are not hi-tech. For instance, there could be a view of what maintenance repair in the railway industry looks like today and we'll turn that into a diagram to show the customer what it could look like," said Gill.
“This is using startup ways of working, lean, rapid prototyping and rapid delivery with enterprise customers."
Supply and demand
DXC’s strategy to transform business operations is not just limited to the rail sector, but also other industries from retail to healthcare.
"We're changing our partnerships. They're no longer the traditional partners you would have expected us to have like Microsoft with Azure,” said Gill.
"We now need to have partners who focus on industry segments, so you now need to have customer experience. And it isn't just customer experience within the customer journey, we're actually interested in connecting things together."
According to DXC, the starting point of transformation is moving towards an industry forum-level that smoothly connects different sectors, such as retail paired with travel and transportation.
"I think the biggest thing we've learnt is that you have to not treat these as big bang transformations," said Gill. "You have to turn these into small projects in a small community and implement them. With Network Rail, we're not chasing big projects; we're just looking for ways to improve on one train line or a set of trains that will better customer experience.
"That's how we determine where to play. We analyse across multiple customers, we look at the trends, we look at the demand signals from customers and then we see if it makes sense to go with it."