SOURCE: The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group

May 22, 2013 08:00 ET

Cross-Industry Integration and Big Data Will Open a World of Innovations in Global Mobility by 2025

New Research by the World Economic Forum and The Boston Consulting Group Spotlights Key Innovations That Are Expected to Revolutionize How People and Products Traverse the Globe

GENEVA--(Marketwired - May 22, 2013) - By 2025, innovations based on more integrated cross-industry cooperation that capitalizes on mostly existing technologies and preventive data analytics will radically improve how people travel and transport goods, according to a new report by the World Economic Forum, produced in collaboration with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The report, Connected World: Transforming Travel, Transportation and Supply Chains, is being released today.

Based on the Forum's Connected World project, a yearlong research effort involving more than 50 leading companies from the travel, transportation, and information and communications technologies (ICT) industries, the report identifies several innovations that hold great promise for revolutionizing the travel and transportation ecosystem. Some of them have the potential to provide significant business opportunities and societal benefits. From an initial list of 100, the following 4 have been highlighted:

  • An integrated proactive intermodal travel assistant would create one seamless ticket across road, railway, and air. Users would access the solution through voice- or gesture-controlled data glasses (or even contact lenses) that would offer real-time information on travel plans. Big data and artificial intelligence would allow a user confronted by a major flight delay, for example, to select from a variety of travel options -- possibly a flight to an alternative airport and a car rental. Once the user selects the preferred option -- which can be designed to minimize cost, time, and environmental impact -- the system would cancel the old reservation and create one ticket that would cover all aspects of the new travel plan.

  • A condition-based megacity traffic-management system would integrate and process up-to-the-minute information from vehicles, travel infrastructure, individuals, and the environment to manage traffic in the largest cities around the world. Before congestion on a major highway hits problematic levels, for example, the system would automatically reroute drivers or adjust tolls to encourage alternate routes. If real-time monitoring and behavior predictions showed that carbon dioxide levels were projected to exceed limits in the late afternoon of a busy workday, the system would shut the city to combustion engine vehicles or increase tolls and send electric buses to park-and-ride centers to which drivers would be directed.

  • A fully automated check-in, security, border-control, and smart-visa system would harness technology to eliminate the long lines at airport screening points and border crossings, simultaneously enhancing security. Visa applications would be standardized across multiple countries with data available to officials in all participating nations. Check-in for a flight would be expedited by replacing paper documents with an electronic passport, as well as biometric traveler identification through fingerprints, facial recognition, or an iris scan. New sophisticated risk-based screening systems would speed up security checks, allowing luggage to be scanned with liquids still packed. And boarding and customs processing would be made dramatically faster by the same biometric identity checks.

  • A tracking and transparency-based logistics optimizer would solve some of the thorniest "last-mile" challenges associated with product deliveries. Under this system, cheap and ubiquitous radio frequency identification (RFID) chips would be incorporated into product packaging and used to track not only the real-time location of items as they are moved but also factors such as the average temperature during shipping and the CO2 emissions associated with the production and shipping of the product. Such a system would both allow more efficient transportation of products and give consumers valuable information on the quality and environmental impact of the items in their shopping carts.

"These solutions will be game changers, and the technological know-how to make them a reality largely exists," said BCG senior partner Antonella Mei-Pochtler, who is also codirector of the Connected World project. "It is only through an integrated approach across industries and through active support by the public stakeholders that we can realize them. Business leaders need to create the prerequisites; strengthening data analytics is one of them."

The Forum and BCG are currently working with companies, governments, and other stakeholders throughout the world to map out plans for developing these solutions. 

Challenges to Implementation Are Surmountable

Although many of the technologies exist today, successful implementation will depend on surmounting several institutional barriers. The main obstacles, according to the report, are a lack of cooperation across industries and various public agencies. At the same time, the challenges that typically surround hyperconnectivity -- including data ownership, data privacy, and resilience against cyberattacks -- create additional hurdles. The Forum's push to bring corporate and government leaders together to promote development of these solutions is aimed at addressing such challenges.

In addition to the four highlighted solutions, the report notes eight others for their potential to shape the future of travel and transportation. They include: holographic communication platforms, mobile living rooms and virtual offices, integrated intermodal mobility providers, driverless swarm-car service, logistics drones, mobile pop-up hotels, preventive vehicle-maintenance systems, and vehicle operator and passenger health analytics.

The report also outlines different scenarios for how the world may look in 2025, reflecting potential sociopolitical, economic, and environmental developments.

The Connected World project and report are part of the Forum's Hyperconnectivity Initiative, which aims to provide insight into how the increasing prevalence and speed of connections around the globe will impact issues such as security, cybercrime, and privacy.

A copy of the report and video clips illustrating the solutions and scenarios are available on the Connected World homepage.

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact BCG's Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or gregoire.eric@bcg.com or the Forum's Philipp Sayler at +41 22 869 3644 or philipp.sayler@weforum.org.

About The Boston Consulting Group
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 78 offices in 43 countries. For more information, please visit bcg.com.

About the World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation in 1971, and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Forum is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. For more information, please visit weforum.org.

Contact Information

  • The Boston Consulting Group
    Eric Gregoire
    Global Media Relations Manager

    Tel +1 617 850 3783
    Fax +1 617 850 3701
    gregoire.eric@bcg.com