Are mobility robots here to stay?

Jul 06 | 2016

Uber mobility is becoming a new catchphrase in the world of global mobility as technology and innovation continues to inspire change. But are apps, virtual reality and even robots the future of the industry - or just a temporary fad? Lisa Johnson, Global Practice Leader, Consulting Services, at Crown World Mobility offers her opinion.

Uber-mobility is a concept or metaphor for ultra-modern techniques being used in global mobility. The concept is based around how technology is changing, how people access information and how they make purchases. There is in an increasing trend towards people using apps and of transactions taking place in real time.

Millennials are at the core of the trend, they demand real time data and mobile services and like to be more hands-on than assignees of the past. But there is a business aspect too, with companies keen to provide low-cost solutions – especially for early career employees, new hires and self-initiated moves. The evidence at the moment is uber mobility is catching on quickly with assignees of all generations.

Apps such as Uber, Airbnb and Dolly are helping to define uber mobility and driving the industry forward with global mobility programmes and global mobility experts attempting to offer services which compete with those apps. Millennial assignees have a ‘do it yourself’ mentality and see using apps to plan their move as part of the experience. They feel more in control of the process and feel the programme becomes more personalised when they have options in their grasp.

For global corporations it’s all about saving money and increased flexibility. But it’s also good for recruitment. It can be very hard to recruit millennials in locations outside of main cities and employers must think outside of the box and provide enticing benefits to attract millennials. Technology can be a big draw.

There are downsides.  For assignees it can mean no vetted experts to talk to and no personal touch. Apps are not designed to work around people with families, are not interactive and lack the ‘human’ element. For corporations, these apps are not made by mobility companies, therefore they lack expertise. There are also debates around how far duty of care extends. Should businesses be tracking employees using GPS? Or is this infringing the privacy of employees? So there are some challenges ahead.

So how will uber mobility develop - what technology could further impact global mobility in future? Could we see the use of virtual reality technology? Virtual reality will almost definitely play a role in the future of uber mobility in future. There is already existing technology in the gaming industry and this type of virtual reality could be used as a means of providing virtual reality tours when it comes to decision making for assignees. For example, looking at property and local amenities.

So far there is no evidence that uber mobility is effective in lowering the number of 'failed' assignments although this may become apparent if there is a shift in the industry caused by technological changes. With regards to safety and security – there may be some horror stories arising out of ‘DIY’ assignments lacking professional mobility input. However there will come a time when the desire of millennials to do everything themselves changes this.  It’s a cheaper way to move young people without the need for ‘hand-holding’ throughout the experience.

In the next five years it is likely that the traditional method will become a ‘VIP’ experience and the new, cost-saving methods will become normal.

Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson is Global Practice Leader, Consulting Services, at Crown World Mobility, a global company which helps corporations manage global talent. She has more than 18 years of experience in the industry and has been with Crown since 2012. www.crownworldmobilitycom