SNCF embarking on an ambitious, multi-year agenda to drive the complete digital transformation of their business. #DIGITALSNCF comprises several big initiatives focused on 4 principal areas including Open Data, Big Data, Design and Connected Objects. Some of the key initiatives include using tablets for maintenance of their train system, partnering with startups to develop and launch new mobile applications, and launching an effort to open up even more to the tech ecosystem with their Open Data, Open API and Open Innovation programs. Their objective is for these initiatives to fruition over the next 18 months.
One of the standout new initiatives for SNCF, particularly over the next 6 months, will be their increased focus on connected objects and robotics which they see as important future drivers of growth. They’re even working on ways to integrate augmented reality into the maintenance and servicing of their train system which they believe will lead to better results and lower costs.
Finally, and perhaps their biggest announcement, was that they will soon be launching 30 million euro fund over the next three years. From the fund they’ll invest in 12 to 15 startups focusing on digital innovation of transportation.
SNCF’s digital journey has been a long one. In 2000 they kicked off their focus on ecommerce, beginning to shift many ticket purchases from physical locations to online, in 2005 they launched their iDTGV train service for which all ticket purchases are transacted online, 2006 they launched their blog, in 2010, they began to shift their focus to mobile and in 2011 they rolled-out their well-known Hack Days hackathons. Their mobile strategy has been working exceptionally well as they sell one ticket via mobile every 3 seconds.
Finally, they also have some big plans for the area that is perhaps most important to travellers, wifi access. Last fall, SNCF announced some big steps to continue their journey of upgrading significantly the digital experience for their users, including equipping SNCF stations and some lines with 3G/4G. Travellers will finally see big results on this as they plan to equip all TGV trains with free wifi by end 2016.