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Creating an app prototype in two weeks

Today, digital transformation is already a reality in the rail market. Companies will be at different stages of their own digital transformation journeys. Some, at the beginning and some further advanced. Data is key part of digitisation, you might just be collecting it or already looking at how you can analyse it.  Each stage of the data journey comes with challenges and our rail industry customers will face most of them.

In a recent study by global consultancy company Roland Berger, 92% of rail industry companies stated that they will invest in digitisation in the next 3 years. Digital data is one of the key factors they will consider when looking to digitally transform.  Maximising digital investment will be a strategic priority for all rail operator’s digitalisation.

Nomad's vision - connecting everything

Nomad’s digital train vision is all about collecting data from different sources, storing this data and processing it in a scalable data aggregation platform. Smart data can enable the various over the top services, across the business to realise value.

In the path of making digital trains a reality, there will be some huge opportunities for data to create potential revenue streams and/or efficiencies within the rail market. Investments can be leveraged for operations and maintenance and in areas like analytics. Mobile applications will become more common and will be a big contributor to the reality of a fully connected networked train.

A step into the mobile world

In less than 10 years mobile applications have continued to grow. This growth is mainly driven by the fact that mobile phones became globally adopted (over 1 billion smartphones exist worldwide). Users carry them wherever they go meaning it’s very convenient and easy to download and use a mobile app.

Companies that want to embrace the mobile disruption must consider that mobile apps need to be an integral part of a holistic digital strategy. At Nomad, mobile strategy is part of the digital train vision – connecting everything. That’s why we chose to undertake a mobile application discovery project and develop an application prototype.

Today we observe that mobile apps are taking over the world, for example, ‘Angry Birds’ was downloaded 5x more than the ‘Nintendo DS’ was sold. Apps can play a crucial role in digital transformation and are an important enabler for digitalisation – it’s the mobile disruption!

Nomad embrace the future

When Nomad embraced the mobile space, we started by identifying future focus areas for mobile applications and general business efficiencies. Through using design thinking methods, the goal was to understand how we could enhance mobile working using technology.

Design thinking is a method for practical and creative resolution. It’s really an innovative and creative mindset and a very different way to solve problems. Starting with the human factors it helps create business value with a human-centred design approach.

Nomad decided to engage by applying design thinking in two one-week phases: Initial analysis and deep dive.

Week one phase - empathise, define and ideate

The first week initial analysis, started with empathising with the users – our internal and field engineering teams. By interviewing them, understanding their working process and pains, while shadowing their activities we could then define the application eco-system, create personas and draw journey maps. Engaging into ideating with what was observed, we brainstormed around the capabilities and opportunities, finishing the week by identifying and enumerating five concrete portfolio opportunities that would become business propositions.

From the five portfolio opportunity areas identified, we prioritised and selected the one where mobile technology had a higher impact, could be deployed in the short/medium term and that would be most likely to return on investment. The selected proposal progressed by moving into the deep dive phase.

light bulb moment

Week two phase – exploration, patterns and testing

The second week, deep dive, was about further exploration of solutions to pain points discovered in phase one. Using service and experience design we were able to understand and discuss how to solve some of these pains and identified patterns in terms of the user experience. Applying UX Design methodology, these patterns were then transformed and designed into a friendly user interface, incorporating brand, design, usability, and functionality.

working at coffee shop

The final phase – the prototype

The created prototype entered user testing sessions to collect feedback in terms of concept, usability and functionality. The sessions with users were crucial, we were able to analyse their feedback, refine the prototype and ensure it was fit for purpose.

At end of the second week we had built a working clickable mobile app prototype. We had validated our approach and created a great basis for moving forward, developing and deploying the real application.

As our engineering teams had continued involvement across this innovative project, everyone was excited to see the finished prototype. We are proud to be making a change and a key contribution to rail technology. Making changes are important to Nomad, we see our app as the first step to smart, simple and enjoyable future technology solutions.

creative working at desk