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Enterprise Applications

Anatomy of Google Enterprise Customers: Phil Young, Head of Online at Transport for London

To gain an understanding of why and how many organisations are looking to Google to meet their everyday commercial needs, Martin Veitch talks to three customers: Pearson, TfL and Rentokil Initial.

Mapping the Future

Phil Young is head of online at Transport for London, the local government body responsible for most of the UK capital’s transport system. About 5,000 developers use TfL’s open data platform and its websites receive visits from about eight million users per month. Young is also responsible for the intranet and extranet sites TfL runs.

TfL has accreted an unwieldy assembly of about 70 sites and it needs to consolidate down to a fraction of that number.

Says Young: “2007 was the last website refresh and [our services are] looking aged. The mobile and desktop experiences are not integrated and services are not integrated, so you have issues with things like multiple logins. If we get the pillars right, that adds up to trust and people say nice things about us when we‘re not in the room… and we want them to say nice things. We have to change and that’s the transformation process we’ve embarked upon.”

A new public beta of the TfL site will go up inside two months with better mapping, upgraded journey planners with fares and ticketing integrated, and extensive use of HTML5 to create a consistent look and feel across devices and platforms.

“Mapping is huge in transport,” Young says. “When people are planning a journey, their walk, interchanges and endpoints are all important to them.”

To that end, TfL is moving wholesale to the Google Maps API to drive more integrated user experiences. A ‘Nearby’ feature will show local information, buses, bike rental availability and so on, and will integrate with Google’s Street View “so you can see the front door of your destination”.

“Some of [the discarded mapping technologies and services] are not bad in themselves but having the consistency of user experience and freedom to do what we want with the API and at reasonable cost are appealing. We want to integrate everything users do: [help them] plan their journey, give them a fare and sell them a ticket.”

Admitting to “playing catch-up”, Young says that his team will push two-week sprints of development based on multidisciplinary teams that take advantage of core Google technologies.

“We’re innovating on top of innovation and we’ve got novelty on top of novelty. But at the same time we have to be bullet-proof all the time: at 2am just as at 9am.”

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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