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How Addison Lee, the "40-year-old start up" uses innovative tech to quash Uber

Margi Murphy | May 20, 2015
Addison Lee discusses the dreaded 'U' word, mobile apps and keeping drivers and customers happy with innovative technology.

Addison Lee Apple Watch2
Addison Lee has an app for the Apple Watch to call a cab from your wrist ©Addison Lee

"We're a technology company that enables cabs", jokes Peter Ingram, Addison Lee's chief technology officer.

"We're a forty year-old-startup. We've spent forty years giving this profession a professional image and others are now spending their time undoing it."

The stakes for services firms have never been so high thanks to the prevalence of the sharing economy and popular apps like Uber and Hailo, so Addison Lee is acutely aware it needs to innovate to stay ahead.

"It is very exciting times. We need to be boxing above our weight, innovating and using technology to do that. If you haven't got an Apple Watch, iPhone or Android app - you're out of the equation."

What has it got up its sleeves?
The firm has several tech tools up its sleeves to ensure it can continue to grow internationally: APIs, big data analysis and connected cars to name a few.

What differentiates Addison Lee from Uber is its treatment of its drivers, its "second customer", Ingram says.

"We are seeing small companies suffer due to the Uber affect. For us, the driver is key and critical to the whole system working for us. He is worth a pint of blood. You could have the greatest marketing and app in the world but your driver needs to be good. Some of ours have been with use over 10 or even twenty years and we want to make Addison Lee the best place to work for."

Give drivers better technology to compete with black cabs' knowledge base
Addison Lee is rolling out tablets to all its drivers so they can drive as strategically as black cabs and access apps that provide real-time driver tracking assistance for traffic and route updates that are more effective than the usual sat-nav apps.

Black cabs have had two years cruising the streets of London on a moped to learn hidden routes to cut corners. While Adisson Lee can't offer its drivers this level of training, it has created algorithms and software that will give them the best possible route.

"We send some routing information using algorithms to look at day travel and night travel as well as routes for black cab drivers so the driver isn't just following a sat nav."

It already predicts customer demand to deploy cab drivers to the right areas too.

"We've got a lot of data. Using our data warehouse we analyse metrics, KPIs and customer behaviours to see predictive demand. We use a lot of tools to give us insight for when customers want a car like heatmaps to direct drivers to come out and work at busy times.


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