The beta version of the ITS Observatory will be presented at the European ITS Congress in Glasgow and the final version of the platform will be launched to the public in October 2016. In order to ensure the long term continuity and sustainability of this platform, the ITS Observatory project started to develop a strategy and explore, establish and implement a business plan that will provide the basis to safeguard the ITS Observatory as an available resource. To this end the project analysed the value proposition for the stakeholders including both suppliers of data and users of the ITS Observatory. Questions of cost of operation over the long term and the relationship to affordability as well as benefits for users also need to be taken into consideration.
The Business Plan
A CANVAS business model approach was used to establish the business plan. This model is based on Business Model Generation written by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. The CANVAS model consists of 9 building blocks which need to be defined in order to offer a sustainable ITS Observatory: 1. Customer segments 2. Value proposition 3. Channels 4. Customer relationships 5. Revenue streams 6. Key resources7. Key activities 8. Key partnerships 9. Cost structure.
The CANVAS business model methodology appeared to suit well the need for a structured approach to building a business case for the ITS Observatory. It leads to a focus on identifying the various kinds of customer, in particular the two main groups: the content providers and the knowledge seekers. This approach will be continued intensively during the next period of the project in order to estimate potential revenues and costs.
The customer segmentation divided potential users of the ITS Observatory into groups according to their sector. This allowed analysis of needs based on each sector, from which a value proposition can be formed. The segments identified as important to the ITS Observatory business plan are: ITS Organisations, EU Commission, Media, Standardisation bodies, Universities & Research, Industry and Government. These are then further broken down into subsets, so as to understand each user group fully.
The multi-sided nature of the ITS Observatory implies that a given customer segment could either be providing content or accessing content. As such, it is important to consider how best to bring these customers together, bearing in mind that coming from different areas, they may not fully understand each other. The ITS Observatory will only be of use to one group of customers provided the other customers are also present. Since value of the platform is in direct relation with the number of the users, the network effect will need to be maximised.
The ITS Observatory features have then been mapped against each customer segment, which allows the needs of the users to be categorised. Some users will be contributing to features, others will be searching for information through features and some users will prefer to promote themselves through particular features. A mapping of how each customer segment wants to interact with the ITS Observatory has been produced and this provides the foundation for the value proposition. By considering user needs for each customer segment, a questionnaire has been developed which will improve the value proposition and business plan by interviewing individuals from different segments.
The questionnaire will provide input into the value proposition and the sustainability strategy. The latter will provide the foundation for the long term stability of the ITS Observatory, setting the basis of the financial model.