It’s dawn and I’m catching the fast train from Amsterdam to Paris. Three days of meetings and a view of one of the most fantastic cities in the world. While stepping onto the train, I had a déjà vu moment that took me back to being a student when I traveled around Europe with a train ticket in my back pocket.

nic villa blogTrains have not changed much. Same rails, similar seats, just a different color fabric. Even the people are the same—as diverse as always, each with a slightly different reason for stepping onto the train. What has changed is the whole experience around the journey. Waking up in the morning, I consulted my smartphone for the weather forecast in Paris, which by the way, the alarm function also woke me from a deep sleep. Using an app I chose a taxi by the number of people who “liked” that particular driver with the Eastern European look. Then my phone paid the taxi fare and alerted me that the train was going to depart within five minutes, well before the announcer at the station did. Just enough time for a good coffee. I plan to get the same taxi service in Paris – just Michelle instead of Piotr.

Connectivity has become part of our everyday life. A life in which information follows – and sometimes proceeds us. Our smart devices proactively give useful information; in my case, the cheapest and quickest way to get to the office as well as a mechanism to build a personal connection with my taxi driver; all before stepping into the vehicle.

We live in a world in which an algorithm is able to see where we are, where we want to go, what our travel preferences are and helps us get to our destination without the little worries of the past: will the train be on time, will I miss my meeting in Paris, do I have the tickets with me, what is the weather, where will the best coffee be around place de Vendome…

In this case, connectivity enabled lots of very little improvements that once combined, transformed my journey.

Unfortunately the rhythm of connectivity gets stopped at the door of coach number 12, on the way to seat 33. My experience changed to the years gone by; with patchy Wi-Fi connectivity, poor signage and information about why the train is briefly stopping. The overall sense of being out of touch (something I would not mind on my weekend, but not on the way to an important meeting) reminds me of how much remains unconnected. There’s still much data that needs to be mined and used to help us make informed decisions at the right time and in the right place. There are still countless processes still to be digitized. Connecting the unconnected will continue to transform our lives, making it easier, day-by-day.


Cisco Connected Rail and Real-Time Analytics

We live in an increasingly connected world where we expect our experience to be integrated and seamless, whether it be in an app developed in Amsterdam or a web experience with a large government agency in France. It’s an expectation that data is democratized, yet secured, allowing anybody to offer us the best service at the cheapest price. The connected world is a combination of big data, analytics, mobile, cloud, and social media used by governments and businesses to help us make more informed decisions and to improve our journey. Connectivity can transform entire countries. Little by little.   Which communication silos in your journey would you like to break, to get to your destination?



Nicola Villa

Managing Director, Global Analytics Practice

Cisco Consulting Services