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Creating Successful Partnerships with Customers Powered by Digital Transformation

By Sovan Shatpathy, CTO, Amtrak

Sovan Shatpathy, CTO, Amtrak

Amtrak and its partners help move people, the economy, and the nation forward. We are focused on running an efficient and effective corporation to offer a better way to travel for America. In 2016, we had a record ridership of 31.3 million, the sixth consecutive year we have had ridership of more than 30 million. We keep the economy moving in the Northeast Corridor–carrying 750,000 customers daily in a region that generates 20 percent of the nation’s GDP and houses 17 percent of its population. Our national network is also vital–customers in 500 rural and urban communities rely on us to take them safely to their destination.

Everything we do at Amtrak has three major drivers in terms of moving us forward:

• Customer Focus
• Financial Excellence
• Safety and Security

Digital transformation is the primary driver reshaping our customer and employee experiences across the entire value chain. Let’s view this story from both the customers’ and employees’ lens.

Digital Transformation and the Amtrak Customer

There are multiple channels through which the Amtrak customer interacts with us, including the web, mobile apps, station agents, contact centers, and kiosks among others. Our goal is to harness and enhance the digital capabilities across all these channels to provide a seamless and delightful experience no matter where customers are on their journey with us: planning a trip, buying a ticket, enjoying a ride and finally arriving safely at their destination. Our goal is of course still not complete if we don’t do everything we can to retain customer loyalty and continue to look for opportunities to build our own brand ambassadors within communities across the country.

"Digital transformation is the primary driver reshaping our customer and employee experiences across the entire value chain"

We are well on our path in enabling this vision of engaged, loyal, and valued customers. Technology, as in all other domains of our lives, is playing an increasingly central role in defining the core paradigms of this transformation, including the ability to:

• Interact with Amtrak anytime from anywhere and on any device or channel and still receive a consistent, intuitive, and rich user experience

• Provide personalized and fine-tuned information relevant to the customer

• Simplify and automate all customer-centric business processes

• Leverage analytics and big data to drive data and information-based decisions

• Implement a rich API driven eco-system to consume our information, communicate, and collaborate with us

• Leverage the cloud to rapidly respond to business needs and optimize our total cost of ownership in terms of IT operate and maintain costs.

Digital Transformation and the Amtrak Employee

Amtrak has a large and unique workforce comprising of 20,000 employees across the U.S. They are the heart and soul of a business whose mandate is to transport millions of Americans safely and securely across the nation. There are other additional characteristics unique to the industry including the fact that a clear majority of this workforce is mobile, plying their craft on trains, in stations and remote facilities scattered across the length and breadth of the country. This obviously creates some unique challenges in the way information is consumed and business processes and policies are applied day to day. Technology is a core component in the business of running trains, but it has also created varied eco systems of tools, services, applications and platforms that, while making the employee more productive than ever, has also made the IT operating model quite complex.

Our answer to these challenges has led to the birth of the “Connected Workforce” vision, which is at the heart of our employee digital transformation efforts.

The four- critical pillars driving this vision include:

• Consumerization of Workforce–The average employee has come to expect the same level of simplicity, ease of use and performance at work as they do with their personal interactions with social media, which is fast becoming the baseline against which all interactions are measured.

• Pervasive Mobility–Employees today expect everything to work across all form factors and devices providing the same level of rich, intuitive experience.

• Omni Channel Service Models–Pervasive mobility also means that employees, just like customers, expect to seamlessly transfer their workloads from one channel to another without any loss of continuity.

• Digital Native Workforce–Millennials, the fastest growing workforce, have a far greater comfort and familiarity with using and interacting with digital technologies and have very little patience for manual communication and collaboration techniques.

A critical component of the Connected Workforce is the so-called “Employee Productivity Workspace” or EPW, which places a wide range of digital capabilities at the fingertips of our employees including:

• Social Intranet–One-click site building capabilities that include access to social feeds, instant messaging, forums, discussions boards, and knowledge articles are among a wide range of assets that are critical for any department to work cohesively and productively.

• Unified search–Provides relevant results from a range of sources across Amtrak

• Unified collaboration–Including voice/video chat, one-click web meetings, digital collaboration rooms, forums etc.

• Employee directory–With built-in social features.

• Amtrak business applications–Integrated for workflows, notifications, and approvals.

• Employee communication–Medium with discussion threads.

As we look forward to the future, we are excited about where Amtrak is headed, including our investments in next-generation high-speed rail, other critical supporting transportation technologies and modernizing our stations and infrastructure. Combine that with our internal and external digital transformation initiatives, we are well on our way to being the preferred mode of travel in today’s digital age.