“Mobility is a sexy space”
John Saffrett, COO at ALD, apologised for appearing in suit and tie at the Start-Up Lab: “Not the right get-up to appear before a group of disruptors, but I have to go on stage later today”. But in a way, it was an excellent introduction for the efforts of ALD to attune itself to the agility and creativity of the disruptors the big multinational is eager to court.
“Our job is to navigate how the disruptive changes happening now will affect our industry”, Mr. Saffrett said. And he admitted that it is very difficult for the fleet industry – typically large companies with top-down decision making structures – to change its thinking away from the car-centric model.
But ALD is making an impressive effort, as evidenced by the comprehensive overview Saffrett gave of his company's reorientation from a product-centric to a competence-centric approach. An essential part of which is the disarming, and simultaneously empowering attitude towards change - much of which is as yet unknown, but nevertheless must be anticipated in order to mould the solutions of the future.
What the lease company does know, though, is that the best way to be prepared is to have a structure in place that can make the best of the changes as they happen, trend and change the industry. A structure that is able to capture the best of what start-ups can bring to the industry: “You bring to the table the ability to accelerate our learning”, he told the audience.
Specifically, there are five areas in which ALD is developing relationships – in various shapes and to differing degrees – with start-ups: sharing, multimodal & e-mobility, flexibility, travel & payments and digital & data.
The ALD Start-Up Challenge is a very visible outreach to the start-up world. And a very effective one: “This year's challenge was centred on parking solutions. The winner, ParkBob, went live with our Austrian subsidiary within four months of winning the Challenge”.
“All of us – leasing and rental companies, OEM captives, tech companies, internet aggregators and others – are going after the Holy Grail in this space called mobility. And mobility is a sexy space. None of us knows what the winning formula is, but we're all going after the same thing”.