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Jul 12, 2023

The Future of Emerging Tech: Driving Businesses, Projects, and Processes

The Future of Emerging Tech: Driving Businesses, Projects, and Processes

Harnessing the power of intentionality and data analysis in emerging technologies at IoT World & The AI Summit Austin.

Bringing together three speakers whose roles are at the intersection of community, technology, and emerging technologies, the below recording showcases one of the most popular panel discussions at IoT World & The AI Summit Austin, now Applied Intelligence Live! Austin.

Touching on themes related to smart city technology, transportation, and data analysis – as well as Austin’s controversial e-scooters - the discussion highlights the intersection of community and emerging technology when discussing transportation.

Whilst also diving into the importance of intentional decision-making, balancing infrastructure, and improving safety in cities is emphasized with use cases from both speakers.

Thanks to our panelists:

  • Jason JonMichael, Assistant Director, Austin Transportation - City of Austin
  • Andy Brown, Practice Lead, IoT - OMDIA
  • Jhonatan Mateus, Senior Manager, Customer Analytics - American Airlines


The Transcript


00:00 Andy

So, I want to introduce, I’ve got a couple of great speakers. We're gonna run a panel now. So just to introduce myself, I'm Andy Brown, I head up the IT Practice at Omdia. We're part of this great Informa Tech event today. I've got two good speakers coming up now. The first is Jason John Michael. Jason is the Assistant Director in Austin Transportation, where he oversees smart mobility, P3, placemaking mobility services, parking enterprise and travel demand management. He leads a cross functional team of community mobility technology, policy, data and user experience experience specialists to deliver outcomes and improve mobility, safety and access to Austin residents. It's also a leader in subject matter expert in smart cities. And Jason is also an executive board member and past chairman of Omni Air, the global certification organization for vehicle communications. So Jason, if I could ask you to come out and say hi to everyone.

 

01:11 Andy

Our other panelist is Jonathan Mateus. Jonathan is a senior manager of customer analytics at American Airlines. And in that capacity, he leads a team of data scientists and customer insights analysts with the aim of leveraging the power of advanced analytics machine learning and AI to create value for customers. His team has been behind the revamping of the American Airlines loyalty program, and developing customer centric contribution metrics for more than 100 million unique customers. Previously had other roles at American Airlines in commercial strategy, and leading fleet and airport infrastructure projects. So Jonathan, come on out, please.

 

02:05 Andy

Technology today is evolving at a rapid pace, enabling faster change in progress and causing acceleration in the rate of change. Obviously, since COVID, we've seen a rapid increase in digitalization. And it is show we've seen some of the key trends that we're expecting to see at Omdia over the next few years. And they've really been highlighted here today. And in the sessions this morning, for example, increases in computing power, artificial intelligence and machine learning. So we'll talk a little bit about that this morning. edge computing, for example, bringing intelligence closer to the edge, and the micro edge in order to dry it to do more intelligent processing at the edge of the network. And even things like robotic process automation to automate a lot of mundane and also dangerous processes. Now, obviously, at the center of this also things such as digital trust, in addition to human beings, and actually humans at the center of this whole process. So what I really want to talk about this morning, both these gentlemen are very much involved in, in transportation, smart cities, in Jason's case. And I really want to talk a little bit about, find a little bit about how technologies can work in conjunction with people and how they can make people's processes and people's lives better. So I want to start off, Jason, I'll start with you. Could you tell everyone a little about about what you're doing at Austin, and the city in terms of enabling users and processes around emerging technologies?

 

03:55 Jason

Sir, thank thank you very much, Andy, first of all, thank you, everyone. Thank you for coming to Austin. Thank you for coming here. And being a part of our great culture and everything that we have here. It's very lively city. Hopefully, you're out enjoying it as much as possible. I know I have is and I'm very grateful for our Informa Tech partners and in everything that that this conference entails here in Austin. So my job is really focused at the intersection of of our community and technology and more importantly, emerging technologies, technologies that are yet to be commoditized into the market. This would be a lot of things in AI and machine learning, then the least of which would be self driving vehicles. And so just to throw out one little thing real quick to kind of get something out in the audience. You know, my office helps oversee the partnerships with the different autonomous vehicle companies in town. Most recently, that is GM cruise, and then to bot companies that are operating and I'm sure everyone's aware of some of the other news that's out there. So as we as we continue to be the Kitty Hawk of new mobility, who We'll continue to see new reference implementations come related to how we connect more people and move more people with in a more balanced approach. So one of the things you might notice is that Austin's a huge active transportation community, you can walk around, it's a very walkable downtown, it's a very bikeable downtown. And you can get pretty much anywhere within the city core without having to get in your car. And that is something that we've been working on for quite a while to make sure that we can help balance our ecosystem help balance the infrastructure out there, and that with, with the bill and IRA monies that are now out there, that's going to help also just further accelerate to what you're saying earlier. And that that opportunity for us to deliver more service to more people and help more people move around more freely.

 

05:49 Andy

Yeah, actually, it's quite a novelty come coming to Texas as a Brit, and actually be able to walk around a city without kind of having to drive everywhere, like you do in a lot of East Coast cities. So I definitely noticed some some changes there since I was last year. And Jonathan, you know, How about how about American Airlines and what you're doing there in terms of I mean, you're in charge of looking after the kind of customer loyalty and from a customer centric standpoint, what are you doing with AI, that's helping using emerging technologies to?

 

06:17 Jonathan

Absolutely and first of all, also, thanks for the invitation. Right. And, you know, this is probably my third or fourth time in Austin, this is a this is a great experience for me. And yes, what we do in America and what I do, specifically, the team that tries to leverage the power of analytics, right, and big data, to drive customer centricity, right. And what we mean by that is like, we're an industry that are very good, very, very powerful about transactions, right? Like moving people connecting people. Imagine that other transactions, talk about tickets, you can talk about reservations, you can talk about many different things that talk about just the transaction in particular, but like, we want to integrate all the customer behavior that represented, those are the transactions that are behavior into customer centricity and combine those things. And just to throw an example of some of the things that we're doing, we are in charge of identifying nutrients. And the data tells it that, you know, COVID was an opportunity for us to understand that people are traveling in different right now, that, you know, for the last 20 or 30 years, this industry has been focused on business passengers, right, or people that travel for businesses, and people are trying for leisure, right. And we create products and services for those two distinct types of travels, right. And for instance, when you are traveling for business, you care about flexibility, you care about busiest schedule, having good options, hopefully not trying to connect right. In some cases, having a room at the airport to meet right or to spend your connection time. And when you're traveling for leisure, you care about all the things right, you may be one screen on the back and on the seat, right to watch movie, you care about, you know, some amenities for your kids, right? You care about other things. And when we come to realize looking at data trends, and customer behavior is like people nowadays makes more business with leisure travel. So you have more people that travel for what we call blended, intense, right? So you have people that now have the flexibility to go to a meeting right? From Monday through Thursday, got visited quarters, right and extended trip to visit, visit the place and combine business with leisure. You have people that now work with like the flexibility that technology has enabled during the pandemic, like they go to places that were not business destinations to war right there, maybe go to Cancun, you know, they're not looking for, you know, staying at the hotel and relax, they're actually working on that during the flexibility, and they may be working 60% of the time. So it's our job to really understand the latest trends and find ways to create products and services for customers.

 

08:56 Jason

Just real quick, I gotta say, I've been there. And again, I think it's really cool. The fact of like, you know, you always work over an American is not that different than what what I'm having to what we're dealing with in the city. And that idea around customer. centricity is a really interesting term for government, right? I mean, we have a lot of different institutions and silos. And so it's hard for our customers, our community to really engage services in a way that's meaningful to them. Right? Because they weren't they were set up to handle singular stovepipe related issues. So the whole definition of a smart city is, can you create a more community centric and be individualized? right? And so like when you bring up things around, work in play, and being able to have the opportunity to do both, when we look at how things have changed from the pandemic related to our computer patterns, for instance, very similarly, it's interesting that you know, as Andy mentioned, I, I have a an eclectic mix of programs in the Smart Mobility office, right and placemaking is one of those where we, we go in and we create a safer, more comfortable place, for people to be able to stop over in their trip, especially if they're going to switch modes, right? Like, you're going to drive into the city to a certain point, because you live far enough away that you need to, then you park and if we can find ways to connect that, in a really nice, happy ecosystem kind of way, right? A parklet or something like that, or promenade, then that gives us the ability to have those, those customers, right? Safely make that modal switch, right. And it gives them an opportunity if they want to, you know what, I'm gonna have a coffee, and I'm just gonna hang out in the little parklet for a little bit, and maybe take a call there before I go in the rest of the way to my office. And so those are the kinds of ways that we're also looking at how, how we're changing, because we have to change in order to be relevant to the people that rely on our service. Absolutely, absolutely.

 

11:00 Andy

Not. It's interesting. I mean, how do you guys view the sort of technology, technology aspects of that? I mean, you know, from an analyst perspective, you know, you're constantly asked about this technology and technology, of the responses, or as well, it's much more about use cases. And obviously, the most important part of that really is obviously the end user themselves, whether it's a company, whether it's an individual, you know, or citizen, you know, in the Smart Cities case. So, I mean, how do you kind of view appropriate technologies, for doing what you do, and facilitating? Is it? Is it the best use case? Is it cost? Is that pure factor? Is it? Is it likely the revenue stream and future revenue streams? And, you know, especially as well Jason it even in us in a city context, like, you know, how do you know, funding, of course, for this stuff, and where the sources of funding are to to facilitate, you know, these, these, these applications and services? So, I mean, let's go back to you, Jason Stern. And I'll pass it over to John, a bit about that side of thing. So

 

12:06 Jason

yeah, I think it's technology for technology's sake, like we were chatting earlier is just for not right, it's not going to do anything, it's not going to mean anything to anyone, and it won't have necessarily the level of adoption that you're looking for, especially if you're implementing technology to try to make a particular behavioral shift. And that's some of the things that we're challenged with in the city as if everyone drives alone in the work, you know, we're going to continue, we're gonna go back to the same level of congestion that we had before. Yeah, right. So how do we look at technologies is we have a rapid prototyping program at the city, that was the first one of its type in the United States. If you're familiar with automotive testing, the entire city of Austin is a tier three testing environment. It's a live testing environment, we allow everyone to come in and test in that environment. And then we have other tier two and tier one facilities around in the region. If Oh, okay, well, that didn't work. Let's, let's take it back to the lab, so to speak, right. And so being able to be relevant to your private sector partners, as they're trying to derive their technology roadmaps is important because of ultimately most of these technologies require some type of some type of validation testing in the public domain. Yeah, right. And so being able to provide that level of opportunity also generates a unique learning 25 years in the private sector, before I joined the city, usually in the private sector, we get the tech about half right. And then it's when we deploy it with a with a community or with a government that we find out that, oh, we missed a few things. So the in the last I'll say is workforce development, it gives us a great opportunity, not only for us to build new workforce here in Austin, but it gives the staff inside the city the ability to see touch and feel and experience new technologies way before they hit the market.

 

13:55 Jonathan

Absolutely. And, you know, I completely agree with that. And I will add that, for us is like yes, we always have this internal debate, you know, technology is changing all the time, there's always something that you need to catch up on. And there are many things that we can do for our customers, right the maintenance that we can do for our employees, and there are many lucrative business opportunities right. So, what did you do next? What is what is the business of clarity and let us start with something small and see if it was an expanded? Do you do something cool, you try to differentiate yourself and we will have found that is useful is we need to try to bucket things in bigger kind of like groups and bigger categories, like trying to understand a little bit what is our purpose? And what is our big objective, right? And just to give you an example is like you we as a company decide that we want to provide 100% digital service to our customers meaning that like if they have the they have the option to do everything that they need in terms of getting a service making a change in the reservation, getting a new product, right? digitally, right, then it's easier to understand, okay, what are some of the things that I can do to work NP stat and what are some of the options that I have? Because I have that goal in mind. And that allows you several things first is like it narrowed down the inventory of things that you can go on try. It also helps you with a little bit of the financial justification, which is something that you struggle in this and you know, this is new, I don't have a model to tell me, what is it? What is the value of these? Right? But like, if the concept is the idea, we believe that has value, right? And we can at least track that at a higher level, right? Then going doing things that derive a little bit from that easier, right? And you can have debate about what is the right technology? What is the right approach, you can have debate, but at least you you're given a framework to go and think about that.

 

15:42 Andy

Absolutely. And I one thing I wanted to move on to and actually stay with you, Jonathan here is at the heart of what we're talking about, and what we've been talking about at the show is really data. And in many cases, and particularly in your case, you know, you're dealing with customer data, obviously, from a smart city perspective, you're dealing with machine data, but you're dealing with data on citizens and other sorts of thing. So, data is really at the heart of every law that we've been talking about, you know, in terms of processing, whether we're talking about edge, or AI and machine learning in terms of how you can extract more value from the data that you're collecting. On top of that, of course, so there are lots of privacy implications around how you handle data, how you manage data, and that kind of thing. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and talk a bit about the data side of things. And start with you, Jonathan about how you how you guys deal with sort of customer data, how you handle that side of things?

 

16:36 Jonathan

Well, you have different angles. dimensioned. And you need to you need to consider when you look at that, right, because, you know, you have probably, you know, the data scientists view, which is like, you know, I want to get more of everything, right? And I want to see and do this in a more than I see what is cause what works, right? What is what is allowing me to segment or better understand the customers, right. But you also need to have, you had the IT approach to trying to understand how you manage and minister and like, trace on governance about the data, but you also have the regulatory approach, which is like, okay, from the customer perspective, you're getting a lot of data about a customer, how are you using that? What do you intend to use them to use that information? So a little bit of what we tried to do is like to for the internal debate of like, okay, what is what we want for? What do we want to know about our customers, right? And how can we just justify that we can use this info that seems that information to provide value. And again, that helps, you know, obviously, it's not the ideal scenario for someone that likes to look a lot of data and be able to just like, analyze tons of data and say, like, you know, I have these 200 variables. And like, at the end, I get this 10 in the model, because, you know, I'm assuming he's telling me, but at least he helped you narrow down and think about the ultimate purpose. And the ultimate purpose is just deliver value for our customers and our team members. Right. And just to give you an example, right, one of the things that we need to create an industry is to emulate a little bit what like other industries already do, right? Like when you join a loyalty program for the grocery store, you happy to do that, because you get access to a discount, or you get access to products that you wouldn't otherwise get, right. So it creates a virtuous cycle, right, which is like customers, happily giving you information because that enhance their own experience. And at the same time, you're getting to know more about your customers and get to test more things. So but we need to be very synchronized with that, like we, I think we kind of go to this war, we just get a ton of data and like, figure it out later, what we do with the data and you have to be intentional, it's always good to have a little bit more like test the word is working the ages. But you need to have a purpose, right. And like, if, if a customer joins the Advantage Program and download the app, like we can call that customers navigate the trip more easily, right? Maybe, you know, the person goes to a connected place, reconnecting to and this is the first time that they go to the airport, right? But you can go to the app and see a map of the airport and like, hey, now you fly the parts out, okay? 20 something, right is the first time that you got to come to this airport, right? And you have that value, right? Like, and then that customer is gonna be happy. And they're gonna say, Well, I’m happy to be given information to this company, because I'm getting value, right? So that's how you create a virtuous cycle is it's a little bit of like having like, tough and very thoughtful internal debate about what are you going to do with the data? Yeah, totally

 

19:25 Jason

agree with Jonathan there, you know, virtuous cycles don't just happen naturally, right? You have to have a level of intentionality. You got to you've got to understand what's important to you, and then order your organization to then understand exactly how your what your intent will be. Right? And so for cities, it's around driving municipal purpose. It's about making sure that we're providing that level of municipal service ability to the work that we do to the to the residents and visitors that come to Austin. So the way that you've seen some of these virtuous cycles work it's it's how certain things and activating other things in cities like, 2018 is when stand up scooters have hit the marketplace here in Austin, Texas, I happened to be the guy that was in charge of attenuating that disruption. And so, you know, prior to that we had been working on a lot of good bike lanes around the around Austin. But we've gotten to a point where we had built out about as much as we could, and we weren't sure if we were going to be able to continue to, to build at the same pace because we were getting further out into out of the core. And we're starting to get into some other areas that were a little bit more tricky, I would say from a safety perspective of how you accommodate both cars and cyclists and a more high speed environment. And then scooters hit. And we saw the level of active transportation use cases, the number of trips, like exponentially grow, right, we went from, usually in Austin before 2018, you know, roughly about 80, to 90% of all the short trip Mark short trips in Austin. So that's downtown trips between zero and three miles in length, were all being done by cars, we were the birthplace of Cartago. And other cars, use a car as a service kind of approaches, scooters changed all that. And today, most of our business community that's in downtown, they get around on bikes, scooters, and walking around in the wonderful environment that we have. And so, you know, there's a great example of how we've intentionally changed something and it's had this virtuous cycle related to not only how we've balanced the infrastructure, right all modes for all roads for all people, I'd say. But then in addition to that, we've increased safety for our active transportation users, we've reduced speeds. So, we've actually created a safer environment. Because you know, good old physics still prevail, I would rather have two people in a scooter or two people, or a person in a scooter. And something else that's small weight and small speed crash into one another than a car. Right. And so getting back to what is what is the important thing for us in cities, it's making sure that we're maintaining a level of safety first. And then of course, past safety. How do we be intentional about those customer values for US city values of, you know, a healthy place to live and work and play, for instance, and that healthy thing, you can take that in many different directions.

 

22:23 Andy

And I guess, I guess on top of that, you have a good view of who's well, how many trips have been made via the scooters and kind of where they're going. So you're using analytics to center?How that's happening. So you get a good idea of pattern. And of course, he was saying about making it a better place for pedestrians by kind of compartmentalizing to some extent, does make it a sort of safer environment. And you understand and you can validate that with with data. So

 

22:49 Jason

right and over, you know, since scooters happened, we collect all the trips, we have it all on a public website for everybody to see, universities and others use it to research on, you do a quick calculation, when you look at it's about 16 million miles of trips, wow, on scooters since 2018, it's roughly 14 million pounds of carbon that have been sequestered and are no longer because those were all short car trips. Yeah, those are those are tailpipe emissions prior. So that's the kind of stuff that happens when you bring innovation around. Right, and you find a way to connect it to the community.

 

23:24 Andy

Sustainability is obviously a huge question, as we're, we're all under pressure globally, you know, but I mean, also organizations, and a lot of pressure to sort of look at their sustainability initiatives, and also how to save cost, save energy and look for greener ways of doing things. So even just, you know, relatively small changes can actually have a fairly significant difference. And, and coming back to the tech side, I mean, what is it that you look for, from emerging technologies? What is it that you feel is missing? Or what is it you feel that is there right now, that is helping you achieve what you're trying to achieve? And both in American Airlines and actually in the city of Austin as well. I mean,

 

24:05 Jonathan

there are many different challenges, like regarding technology, I mean, that is an immense amount of opportunities out there, right, and a lot of avenues to provide value, but there are also obstacles, right, and like, I think relate in a little bit to what I was discussing in previous panels today is like, it gets to an extra level of difficulty where you need to integrate different players in the equation, right? And, you know, the distribution example in the airline industry is pretty clear, right? Because, you know, one thing is to get and seek internal alignment on the processes and the analysis that you need to run to deliver value to the customer. But one different level of difficulty is when you're integrated with other players, right? So think about when you need to connect customers with other airlines, right or we need to go and put a product in the market that needs to be accessible now, not only in AA.com or AmericanAirlines.com , but also on other platforms when customers go and then purchase hotels and rental cars. So it is kind of like the external difficulty. And sometimes, you know, unfortunately what what may happen is like you need to, you need to kind of like level by the lower standard, right. And this is like a little bit of the frustration what you want? Yeah, I have this reenact technology, but I didn't get any needs to speak the language of like old fashioned technology like legacy technology, and is slowed you down a little bit. So it's like, how do you move together and I and like, kind of like predicate and evangelize with this message of the delivering customer value, when you need to bring other players that don't necessarily have the same incentives? Or like the same speed to market that you have? Absolutely,

 

25:42 Jason

no, I would say the, the ability that the thing that seems to when the tech companies come in and use our pipe, our public private partnership process, and they look to launch a pilot or demonstration in our tier three environment that I mentioned earlier. So one of the things that we're usually having to remind them of is it makes sense, right? I mean, private sector does private sector things, they don't necessarily understand all of the goals and everything that we have in the cities. And so by us, interfacing with them up front, we're able to help help them understand shed light on some of our challenges within the cities, so that they can understand as well as things that we need to change. So with new technology, it gives us the ability to set in new reference implementations, new ways of how we handle data, PII, right, and other things. I look at, you know, most of the autonomy companies out there, they have to make maps, right, they have to make brand new high definition maps in order to have any of their self driving, self automated things work. You know, just to speak about equity you know, old maps, digital maps came from old photography maps. And so therefore, they already had same redlining. We've talked about this at nauseam, right about how we need to get past that digital redlining component. Well, new AI is that opportunity, that's the opportunity we have to act actually changed the status quo to make further changes. And if it's done right, then, it's protected from human manipulation. Yeah, right. If we make the AI right, and so one of the things we have in Austin, we have a really relationship with the University of Texas, it was great to hear events this morning. Yeah. And so we have a contract with a long standing contract with the University of Texas called the, the good systems contract. And so it's where we use the different research analysts at UT to help us assess our different AI's that are looking to come into market, whether that's something we're doing, or the stuff that the private sector is doing in our environment, and it gives us an opportunity to, to really see okay, is that going to is that what kind of good is going to come in at that? And, and more importantly, can we manage any and mitigate any possible risks?

 

27:57 Andy

And that that links into actually, we're running up on time? But we got one last question. It really ties into that, and that is overcoming cultural barriers, or even, you know, company cultural barriers, or, you know, even city council or city barriers, right? And learning what works and what doesn't, so I just kind of, you know, bringing it back to a human level for a minute. How do you deal with how do they deal with change and the challenges? And how do you find what works and what doesn't? I think we'll we'll We'll answer that. And then we'll wrap it up.

 

28:28 Jason

That's awesome. Because that's like a whole panel in of itself, isn't it? Yeah, I would say that change. Change is an entity that happens on its own. Yeah. The how you react, adopt or adapt to change is a personal thing. So for my role at the city, it's about working with Mayor and council as well as other executives in the city so that they understand what the implications of this change is, so that they can better begin to internalize it themselves as their own executive sort of perceptions are so they can begin empathizing with that change and understanding it a little differently.

 

29:04 Jonathan

Absolutely. I completely agree with that. And just agree like, you need to have what is in the title of the panel, you need to have a business, right? You need to have a project and you need to have good processes to do the right because part of part of the challenge, right? When you have this many ideas and conflicting interest is like how do you get people to align towards that? So you need to be consistent with your view, analytical approach with your process with your rigor, and communicate, communicate and communicate.

 

29:30 Andy

Absolutely. Well, gentleman, I'd like to thank you very much. We're running up on time now. I don't think we've got time for questions. We're over running a little bit this morning. But I'd like to thank you very much for your time. It was very insightful. And thank you all for attending as well. Thank you very much.

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