This interview is part of our Market Movers series powered by Zoba.
Name: Kaitlyn Schiffhauer
Position: Go-To-Market Operations Manager at Zoba
Zoba operations: As one of the largest shared mobility software companies, Zoba has a bird’s eye view of what’s happening in the shared micromobility industry managing approximately 250,000 vehicles across the Americas, Europe and APAC regions
Background: Known as Zoba’s Swiss Army knife, Schiffhauer uses her data science skills developed at Harvard and operational know-how to help teams across the globe turn Zoba’s insights into actionable strategies that grow ridership
Zag Daily: What is one of the biggest challenges operators face today?
KS: “Determining how many vehicles they really need in any one market or location. How do you really know? With our data, we can show that it’s possible to have too much of a good thing and most operators today struggle with oversupply both within specific areas of the market and across the entire region – especially in high volume areas like train stations and shopping districts. Rather than looking at total volume, we encourage operators to think incrementally, asking not where the most rides are but where an additional vehicle will have the biggest impact.”
Zag Daily: What characteristics separate the most successful operators?
KS: “First is a willingness to learn and try something outside the status quo – you have to be willing to experiment to figure out what works. Micromobility is still new and each market is unique. The second characteristic that separates out the truly successful operators is buy-in – the teams are invested in the process and committed to serving their local communities in a sustainable way. All the data and snazzy numbers are worthless if your team can’t convert them into action and don’t trust the insights. One practical way Zoba builds this trust is by taking all the data, converting it into a set of recommendations and then explaining why the recommendation is being generated and what impact teams can expect using Priority Scores.”
Zag Daily: How does Zoba help companies determine where vehicles are needed most?
KS: “We use a concept called Priority Scores that quantifies the relative ratio of supply/demand in any location so that operators can easily identify where they are over and under supplies and focus their efforts to improve ROI.
“Without Priority Scores, Market Managers are largely deploying and moving vehicles around a market using intuition, but it’s nearly impossible to know how well that’s working. You can only see the impact after the fact and can never know what you may have missed had you taken a different path. With Zoba, every recommendation we provide is matched with a score that shows the expected number of rides that a vehicle is likely to generate when placed in a specific spot in the market. The higher the score, the more likely that spot will lead to more rides.”
Zag Daily: How is Priority Scores calculated?
KS: “Priority Scores help city managers understand how many rides or how much revenue they can expect to gain by taking a specific action in their market. There is always more work to be done than time in the day, so knowing which tasks will have the greatest impact is critical to building sustainable, profitable operations.
“To calculate priority scores, Zoba uses its non-linear optimization engine to simulate tens or hundreds of thousands of potential actions and model the impact they would have on ridership or revenue. These actions could be a deployment or a rebalance or battery swap.
“Zoba then calculates a specific score for each task, to help managers understand the impact of a task before it’s taken. This makes it easy for operators to make informed tradeoffs quickly.
“Using Priority Scores, operators can do things like identify the best specific vehicles to rebalance right now, calculate operational impact by shift, and compare demand levels and performance across neighbourhoods.
“In a time when most operators are working on the razor edge of profitability, being able to prioritise actions you know will be profitable can make all the difference.”
Zag Daily: Finally, can you share an example of Priority Scores impact?
KS: “Sure, we see a lot of operators pick and move a lot of vehicles – but very often they are the wrong vehicles. I’ve seen Priority scores have a real impact here, helping operators identify the vehicles unlikely to get a ride and move those vehicles first. One client for instance tripled the number of vehicles that were getting at least one ride per day.
“At scale, this can have a big impact on profitability and ridership, which is the name of the game.”