Dialing Into Digital Tickets

Over the last few years, smartphone adoption–and sophistication–has reached a tipping point. These devices are now leading to rapid and radical changes in behavior. For example, according to a just-released report from Jupiter Research, Ticketing Takes Off, global ticket purchases via mobile handsets will account for one-half of all digital tickets purchased by 2019. Overall, purchases from mobile and desktop devices including smartphones, tablets and PCs will double to 32 billion tickets over the next four years.

Jupiter found that in almost every market, metro and bus ticketing was driven by mobile phone usage. The low price, high frequency and high-volume nature of metro and bus ticketing was found to be particularly suited for mobile payments. Moreover, the emergence of “wearable ticketing” is emerging though smart watches and other wearable devices. “Integrating new devices and wearables should be a key strategic directive for all players across the ticketing value chain,” noted research author Nitin Bhas.

Over the last couple of years, my preference has shifted from paper tickets to e-tickets. Fortunately, a growing number of airlines, hotels, merchants and others are accommodating by generating vouchers and tickets that land in my iPhone’s Passbook app. Yet, even a text message with a barcode can work, and it’s better than paper. Right now, I’m holding e-tickets to a rock concert, a speaking engagement, a theater performance and a day tour in Rome, Italy. When I am out and about, I would much rather hold a train pass or subway ticket in my phone as well. I’d much rather pay for parking with my phone.

CIOs shouldn’t underestimate the speed at which ticketing is changing. But it isn’t only the transportation and travel industries that need to adopt digital systems. Retailers should also take note because many stores still can’t accommodate digital coupons and loyalty cards. Some can’t even read barcodes generated from their own apps! To be sure, there’s a need to update scanners and deploy NFC capabilities so that customers can use mobile payment systems such as Apple pay and Google Wallet via smartphone or smart watch and receive an e-ticket immediately.

Today, consumers increasingly judge companies by how innovative they are–particularly in the mobile app space. Digital ticketing is ready for prime time. And be warned: those that lag too far behind may earn a one-way ticket to obsolescence.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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