For many of us who sit alone in our car in traffic jams on our work commute, sharing a ride (carpooling) seems like a great idea but, well, just too much hassle to deal with. Sure, it’s sustainable, helps the earth, and all that. But if you work in a big – or even a small – company, how do you find a commuting partner?
That’s the question SAP developers David Sommer and Jens Lehmann asked themselves a few years ago. They dreamed of a way to connect people via a simple and easy to use application. On their own initiative they designed a mobile ride-sharing app and entered it in SAP’s DemoJam contest in 2010. Their prototype took first place, and a month later SAP gave them the green light to work full-time developing their idea. Internal testing was done in various SAP locations, and the end product, TwoGo by SAP, has now been released for public use.
Cloud delivery and mobile access make it easy
Ride-matching software isn’t a new concept, to be sure. But TwoGo is special because it is designed with the enterprise in mind. It’s delivered over the cloud and can be used on the Web or with iOS and Android mobile devices or from within a corporate calendar application. It combines the confidence and security of an enterprise application with the fun and ease of use of a consumer app.
Employees who work at a participating company can sign up online and enter ride-sharing preferences such as whether they own a car, are willing to ride as passengers, and the maximum time they are willing to invest into deviating from their regular route to pick up passengers. TwoGo instantly matches riders and drivers and automatically communicates matches to all involved parties via e-mail or SMS. To help locate desirable matches, it is powered by Nokia’s “HERE” location cloud, which delivers one of the leading map and location experiences across multiple screens and operating systems. And, sophisticated algorithms ensure that employees don’t get stranded at work and are reminded of ride sharing opportunities in the future.
Ride sharing brings people and business closer together
While TwoGo offers financial and environmental benefits for both businesses and employees, including reduced travel expenses and lowered emissions, there’s a bigger and less-obvious benefit, according to Peter Graf, SAP’s chief sustainability officer.
“We expect TwoGo to not only help people and businesses save money and greenhouse gas emissions, but to also connect people more closely with each other and with the company they work for,” said Graf. “While the key driver for people to use TwoGo is to meet great people while commuting to work, we’ve added special capabilities like round trips, viral algorithms to keep adoption high and features that ensure identities can’t be faked. In essence, TwoGo leverages the human network that’s present in a company and enhances it to drive innovation and employee engagement.”
The cost savings of car pooling are clear. In very large U.S. urban areas, for example, the average commuter spends $16 and 52 minutes traveling 32 miles round trip to work each day. What’s more, ride sharing may help employees feel more connected and involved with their peers and better informed overall. This can make a huge difference in today’s fast-paced business climate, where people work in virtual teams and may not even know the people in the cubicles in the next row. It’s a great example of how companies and individuals can work together to both improve efficiency and contribute to a better world.
App flexibility, compatibility supports carpooling beyond company walls
TwoGo is flexible enough for companies of all sizes to use. In fact, to gain critical mass, organizations can decide to allow employees to carpool with people working at nearby companies that also use TwoGo. Unlike current solutions on the market, TwoGo works with any iCalendar-compatible corporate calendar application, such as Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes or Google Calendar. This allows users to create and change rides within the context of their daily work schedule using tools they already know well. It accommodates international time zones, maps, and measurement units and is available on the Web in English, German, Spanish or French.
SAP has used TwoGo internally since July 2011 and estimates that it has generated more than US $5 million in value for the company. Even though the pilot was limited to a few locations, the numbers are impressive. Employees were matched into carpools more than 36,000 times, resulting in 2,200 additional days of networking time among employees. Ride shares eliminated 400,000 miles of driving, equal to a reduction of 88 tons of greenhouse gases.
Other large companies like tour operator Thomas Cook also contributed to the development of TwoGo and continue to do so. “As a member of the beta program and long-time SAP customer, we are happy to work with SAP to develop an application that helps us meet our sustainability targets, reduce costs for our company and employees, and build a more social, connected company,” said Dr. Julian Clemenz, head of sustainability management, Thomas Cook Central Europe.
To learn more, watch “Overview: TwoGo by SAP” and Peter Graf’s TEDx talk “How do you get buy-in on the highest levels to really make change?”. And, consequently, “Can A Ride-Sharing App Change Employee Behavior?” Does it have to? Join the discussion on SAP Business Trends.