Secure Parking ‘drives’ AI transformation with SnapLogic
Until relatively recently, operating a car-parking company was straightforward. You found a vacant bit of land, installed a gate and had motorists hand a ‘parking fee’ to a car-park attendant or put their card in a machine before leaving the land you owned or leased. (If you did use a machine, it was almost always sourced from a third-party equipment supplier.)
Of course, this low-tech approach had downsides, not least motorists often having to spend significant time and effort ‘finding a park’ or, even worse, being unable to locate a vacant parking space. Many car-parking businesses are now leveraging different types of technology to remove friction from the vehicle-parking process. But few have gone as far as Australia’s Secure Parking, a subsidiary of PARK24 – one of the world’s largest parking operators.
In a recent fireside chat, Rick Chandra, CIO of Secure Parking, spoke with Jeremiah Stone, CTO of SnapLogic about how with the help of cutting-edge technology, Secure Parking is now leading the way in revolutionising the car parking experience.
About the Voyager Program
Discussing the genesis of Voyager, Secure Parking’s “future of parking” initiative, Chandra said, “Understanding the customer journey to its fullest extent is absolutely critical when innovating product lines to take to the market. One of the first things we looked at is, ‘What is the actual journey that a customer takes with Secure Parking?’
“That’s everything from the point of departure all the way right through to the point of entry into our car parks. We looked at everything from the way in which they behave and interact with us as an organisation and at our sites, all the way through to what are some of the key benefits and key capabilities that I wanted to develop within our product line.”
Unsurprisingly, Chandra and his team discovered those busy Australians willing to pay for parking wanted almost everything about parking, especially accessing it, to be more user-friendly and less time-consuming. Many of Secure Parking’s sites now offer benefits that make entering and exiting car parks that little bit smoother and quicker.
“Voyager has been an opportunity for Secure Parking to take its decades of experience, along with all the customer experience information it has, and create our own product line,” Chandra noted. “I’m very proud to say all the Voyager hardware is made from the ground up by an Australian manufacturer.”
Likewise, all the Voyager software was developed with the assistance of SnapLogic’s Australian team. Chandra is delighted SnapLogic exceeded expectations when it came to building an ERP system – including a remote car-park management system, booking and financial platforms, data lake and CRM – from the ground up.
“Car parks look simple, but they are complex environments,” Chandra explained. “And you have the challenge of dealing with legacy technology. Integrating that legacy technology with a new website, new digital platform and new mobile applications, not to mention [third-party apps] like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, was always going to be crucial to the success of Voyager.”
As well as helping build new systems that could play nice with pre-existing ones, SnapLogic helped Secure Parking develop back-office solutions capable of slashing costs and maximising efficiencies. “Voyager has very sophisticated back-office ERP systems, which we’ve developed with SnapLogic to support our customers and also to support our car parks,” Chandra said. “These systems cover everything from customer data to financial data and allow our car parks to be operated remotely.”
AI and the transformative journey
Voyager has proven a great success, but Chandra is now looking at future opportunities rather than resting on his laurels. “We need to finish rolling out Voyager to all of Secure Parking’s Australian sites,” Chandra shared. “After that, our global parent company may roll it out in other regions. All the benefits Voyager brings to our customers here in Australia would be of value to [Park24] customers offshore as well. I’m also interested in what future-proofing capabilities we can build into our platform today that can help support our customers in the future.”
Chandra’s cautiously optimistic about leveraging generative AI to provide Australian motorists with an even more agreeable parking experience. “Secure Parking collects an immense amount of data about our customers’ preferences and behaviours,” he observed. By feeding that treasure trove of customer data into the right AI, Chandra hopes to make getting around town near effortless.
In fact, he sees a future where Secure Parking can potentially use AI predictive models to literally map customer journeys, ascertaining when Secure Parking customers are most likely to enter and exit one or more of its sites. For Chandra, it’s a chance to “redefine the whole experience,” ethical considerations permitting. “It’s about delivering value to customers without sacrificing their security and privacy in the process,” he said.
SnapLogic is also enthusiastic about ethically leveraging data to its fullest extent. As Stone told Chandra, “Something we are working on quite closely with our partners is utilising data in a thoughtful, responsible way that goes beyond the [basic] privacy and security obligations. SnapLogic is particularly interested in how predictive models can be utilised to deliver value to the customer without sacrificing their privacy and security in the process.”
How to win with AI
Many businesses are now faced with the choice of either disrupting themselves or risking being overtaken by external events. Nonetheless, very few businesses manage to disrupt themselves successfully. At least not prior to an existential threat emerging. Aside from being obsessively customer-focused, Chandra has two core pieces of advice for anyone considering embarking on a large-scale digital transformation program before they attract potential disruptors’ attention.
First, pick the right partners – particularly the right technology partners. “Having the right technology partner, one that the Secure Parking team could work well with, was absolutely critical to the successful delivery of the Voyager program,” Chandra said. “Part of the success of Voyager comes down to SnapLogic’s involvement. Everybody involved needs the passion to see a large, complex project through to the end. I certainly saw that passion, not just from my team but across the board, including SnapLogic’s team.”
And part of picking the right partners is choosing ones that can grow with you. The Voyager program is a work in progress, and Chandra is confident SnapLogic can help Secure Parking take advantage of several emerging technologies. “Having a partner like SnapLogic will allow us to manage the integration [of new and legacy technology] going forward,” he said. “And it will continue to help us face the challenge of standardising the architecture with our environment, which is something any CIO appreciates.”
Watch the interview with Rick on demand here.