In our third installment of our ‘2023 year in review’ content series, we spoke to Martin Gleadow, Head of Customer Success at 3Squared.
Martin is a well-known face across the rail industry and continues to play a key role in 3Squared’s journey. We spoke to Martin about how he feels the industry is embracing new technologies, the key trends he foresees in 2024 and more. Read Martin’s thoughts below:
Have there been any interesting themes or insights you have gleaned this year?
2023 has seen the rail industry continue to make progress towards the implementation of Great British Railways as laid out under the ‘Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail’ two years ago.
While progress may be slower through the political process to enable this than many would like, we were happy to see our neighbours in Derby chosen to be the new headquarters and look forward to a parliamentary timeline being set out. The Transition Team have attended events throughout the year, and I recently boiled down the messages I have heard through them and other industry representatives to two key points.
Firstly, no matter how well it already does, rail needs to do even better and recognise where there are opportunities to do things differently to meet changing demands and opportunities.
Secondly, there is a clear pressure to find ways to achieve more with less to ensure rail can rise to the challenges of the future. We have seen the ORR Final Determination for Control Period 7 include targets for improved safety, reliability, sustainability, performance, and customer satisfaction and for the first time ever also include a freight growth target; none of these will be delivered without changes to ways of working. It is important to do those without being limited by availability of employees – therefore, finding ways to grow through increased working efficiency are imperative.
Do you believe the rail industry is becoming more receptive to the adoption and integration of new technologies?
While there are inevitable pockets of resistance to new technology, we also see rail workers asking why rail hasn’t done more to adopt new technologies. The industry is more receptive, but also rightly skeptical of the ability of proposed solutions to deliver the stated benefits and to have fully understood the complexity of working within rail.
Where the benefits are validated, the rail industry is keen to implement technology solutions. The key challenge becomes navigating the change processes that are necessary to maintain a safe railway.
There is an additional challenge in dealing with the ever-present difficulties of integrating with technological solutions that are adopted early in the process of digitalisation, where data interoperability and interchange were not envisaged on the scale we see today. Therefore, the systems were built with human readable output in mind.
How do you see this evolving further in 2024?
I’m hopeful that 2024 will see continued adoption and integration of new technologies to assist in the challenges of doing even better and growth through efficiency, and maybe more political certainty to drive this forward too.
With Great British Railways committed to a simpler, better railway and the 30 recommendations announced last month to achieve this, it feels like there is a desire to make real change and the momentum to make it happen, despite the ongoing uncertainties.
What trends do you see emerging next year?
One area I am seeing an uptake of interest on is how the disparate data sets which have accumulated from multiple different systems, can be combined to provide insight into performance and efficiency.
I think this will be key to achieving noticeable improvements in performance and efficiency. I am keen to understand where there are applications of this approach, which could draw upon or inform our applications to support our customers in their objectives. We have already had multiple conversations with our customers that have spawned ideas and suggestions and developing these further in 2024 could help bolster this trend.
What are you most proud of this year?
It is just over a year now since we set up the Customer Success team and I am so happy with what Becky and I have managed to achieve. The rail industry is full of knowledgeable and passionate people, and it is fantastic to get to work so closely with these people within our customer organisations, It is also great to gain further insights into how our applications interact with their business processes and what we might do together to improve this.
Specific highlights include welcoming Nuclear Transport Solutions to our customer community with our Rostering, Competency Management, and Incident Management software; supporting Alstom in the wider deployment of EDS across all the UK maintenance teams; and deploying our Learning Management System for Merseyrail alongside their recent adoption of EDS. I’m also delighted that we managed to finish the year with a successful EDS focus group for our maintenance customers in our Sheffield office.
Thanks for your reflections, Martin. If you would like to find out more about how 3Squared can support you with your business needs in 2024, get in touch here.