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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.

"Look at the West End for example. Shoreditch has now taken over. We're watching those changing patterns and sending messages to drivers so they're available where we need them."

The team use a variety of in-house analytics tools and SAP Business Objects to crunch the "millions of bits of data we have", including a ten-year historical data pool.

Customer data
The firm knows an awful lot about its customers, from where they live, to the approximate price of their house and if they work for a corporate firm or not.

"We have good demographics and quite a lot of data that could be tapped into. We're using it for our own purposes but there is no reason why someone could not tap into it in the future."

So far, several universities have used anonymised information to analyse traffic flow within London - which could prove particularly useful for city planning, or the emerging driverless car projects that have been funded by government backed Innovate UK.

Additionally, it has rolled out wi-fi to 3,000 of its 5,000 fleet in the UK already. Not only does this keep the driver and customer happy, Ingram explains, but it opens up a new advertising revenue stream for Addison Lee.

"If you're driving along Oxford Street we could send you push notification for an offer in Selfridges", Ingram says.

Behind the scenes, there is a host of APIs, algorithms and control centre staff who are watching routes, customer interactions and anomalies in services to predict problems before they occur and give a courtesy call.

It has 110 seats in a call centre in Euston and 80 people working from home, as well as a central control hub with 30 employees monitoring "red bars" onscreen for anomalies.

Addison Lee runs its business systems on a three tier SAP Sybase database, running on IBM Power Series boxes on the application layer and Linux servers. Its app is written in Java and it uses MuleSoft to integrate its APIs with taxi firms in the UK and abroad where Addison Lee doesn't have its own fleet but wants to provide cars for its customers.

With a new loyalty scheme that went live last week, Addison Lee will continue to push out digital offers to its customers, but it says it won't be taking a leaf out of Uber's book in regards to price surging. Instead, its only price differentiation is if a customer books online - offering a cheaper deal to get more people using its app.


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