Caledonian MacBrayne prepares for digital transformation roll-out during 2015
Caledonian MacBrayne told a conference today (January 23) how it is among the leading UK transport operators in digital infrastructure transformation.
The Scottish ferry company, which operates the majority of the passenger and freight routes on the Clyde and throughout the Hebridean islands, is taking its lifeline service to a new level - for both staff and customers.
Owned by the Scottish Government, CalMac operates the UK's largest ferry network, carrying 4.65 million passengers, 1.1 million cars and more than 92,000 commercial vehicles in 2014 alone.
In a progressive roll out during 2015, CalMac's customer and company interface will become fully digital the conference 'Public Services as Digital Businesses: Achieving fully accessible digital transformation' in Linlithgow was told. The roll out calendar is currently being developed.
It offers advantages to both employees and customers who will benefit from tailor-made solutions to their various requirements and expectations on all types of device.
For customers, the forward facing part of this revolution will allow them greater freedom to manage their journeys, from searching timetables to e-boarding cards. And, with wifi to be available at all ports and on all ships across the network, it will allow customers to stay connected throughout their journey. Good news for visitors who may wish to share their travel experiences in real time, and a significant benefit to the many business travellers to the islands, who will be able to work with connectivity during their crossing.
Internally, the company's employees - regardless of where they are based - will have access to the internet and corporate systems for everything from timesheets to corporate presentations, safety notices to community forums, email to document generation and storage. Those staff who live on board during a run of shifts will be able to have the freedom to contact family and friends whenever they wish - even in areas where mobile signal has previously been prohibitive.
Caledonian MacBrayne recognises, however, that online services may not suit all customers, and the ability to be able to book and make enquiries by other means, at port offices or by phone, for example, will remain.
It operates out of 50 ports in disparate locations across western Scotland, which has presented a significant communications issue in the past. The roll-out of wi-fi across the network in due course, including on board all the vessels and at each port, however, has presented the company with the opportunity to shape this new future.
CalMac's Group Finance Director, Robbie Drummond, said: "We have been working very closely with IBM, as well as digital services company ATOS, to ensure that the experience both in-house and for our customers will be straightforward, intuitive and, above all, beneficial.
"What we will put in place is not dissimilar to the kind of front-facing customer service offered by the likes of British Airways, for example. We are one of the first passenger transport companies in the UK to achieve this and our phased roll-out will begin in summer.
"Our aspiration was to produce a market-leading solution and we're very close to implementing it. This is cutting edge and will ensure that any customer or member of staff, no matter where they are in the world, can access their required systems from any device at any time.
"Communication with many of our port and ship-based employees has been rather sporadic for number of reasons - not least the lack of connectivity on the ships and limited access to a computer for many staff, and paper-based reporting was often the only option.
"We're removing a lot of time-consuming admin paper trail work from our staff which will allow for greater customer focus. There is, moreover, a real social enterprise element to this, particularly from a staff point of view - the system will allow both social and business content and has the power to connect employees more closely, engendering more of a sense of engagement and community within the network."
The move is in line with CalMac's drive towards achieving the Scottish Government's key transport objectives, including improved safety with access for all staff at all times to relevant documentation, as well as the ability to report any arising health or safety matter instantly throughout the fleet. It will also help with the target for improving social inclusion, particularly with more integrated networks around the islands, and certainly also fulfils the target to be more efficient and co-ordinated - both within the company itself and with the consumer experience.
Fiona Holland, PR Manager, Caledonian MacBrayne
MV Loch Seaforth on sea trials - the ship has been built to be digital-ready
Notes to editors:
1) Further information about CalMac is available at www.calmac.co.uk
2) Caledonian MacBrayne and CalMac are trading names of CalMac Ferries Ltd (CFL). These names are used under licence from Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL). The lion rampant device is used by CFL with the permission of CMAL.