Beryl, the British micromobility company, has revealed how Google Cloud helped it scale, innovate and tailor its services to each city it operates.
For the organisation, which serves more than 300,000 UK customers, a reliable customer app as well as e-bikes and scooter availability are key when encouraging people to switch to a more sustainable form of transport.
Thanks to Google Cloud, Beryl can now experience rapid horizontal growth, effortlessly adding more bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters to an increasing number of schemes across the UK.
It can also analyse customer demand insights to improve availability and tailor marketing efforts in low adoption areas
Beryl has also benefitted from easy integration and continuous service improvement through data insights.
Sacha Manson-Smith, chief technology officer at Beryl, attributes the company’s success to its home-grown IT ecosystem, which gives freedom to innovate and adapt its offering to each of the cities it serves.
“As soon as we decided to focus on micromobility, we planned the capabilities we would need, such as the systems and architecture of our technology stack. And our blueprint has remained largely unchanged, we continue to build products and services on a solid, reliable Google Cloud foundation,” said Manson-Smith.
Service reliability is a key feature when trying to encourage people to switch to a more sustainable form of transport.
For Beryl this is in the form of a glitch-free customer-facing app, as well as fully functioning bikes and e-scooters in the right places, and at the right times, to meet customer demand.
A tech stack built from scratch on Google Cloud has helped to ensure an optimal customer experience.
The automatic scalability of Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) enabled Beryl to add more bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters to an increasing number of schemes across the UK.
Micromobility is a time-sensitive business, with customer activity spiking at peak periods of the day, as well as during warm spring and summer days.
GKE allows Beryl to expand and contract its microservices according to customer demand, with compute and storage power on tap when required.
During quiet periods, servers can be switched off, reducing expenditure, energy use, and environmental impact.
GKE also keeps systems downtime to a minimum, thanks to the way it can instantly spin up replica microservices in the event of a systems issue.
Manson-Smith added: “The upshot is that GKE is a super-stable cloud platform.
“If you’re going to include bike hire as part of your daily commute, the system needs to be reliable. Our annual systems availability is running at 99.97%, with only a few hours of downtime during the past year.
“Instead of fixing IT we can focus on adding real business value, building new features for customers, improving operational efficiency, and helping to scale the business.”
Customer-centricity, driven by data insight, is another ingredient to Beryl’s growth.
Docking stations, vehicles, users, logistics teams and maintenance crews all generate data, which if managed and analysed correctly, allow continuous service improvement.
Beryl manages its data using BigQuery, a serverless data warehouse which enables scalable analysis of petabytes of data. BigQuery also has machine learning (ML) built in.
Manson-Smith offered an example of how BigQuery can elevate real-world customer experience: “For instance, BigQuery can help you identify customer onboarding issues. Prospects may be dropping out at the credit card entry point, so you may decide to prioritise Google Pay instead.”
When the Beryl team wants to take a deeper data dive, they use Looker, a data analytics tool that enables companies to visualise, explore, and share data. The system can generate a regular report revealing customer demand hot spots, as well as areas where there is a low service uptake.
Extra resources can then be allocated in the hot spots, while the company may decide to ramp up marketing, promotions and engagement in areas of low adoption.
Manson-Smith said: “We didn’t appreciate how interested stakeholders would be interrogating our data.
“There was a real thirst for knowledge. We had to pause using SQL queries internally and get everyone using Looker instead.”
Manson-Smith’s team also uses Cloud IoT Core to connect the firm’s IoT devices and a suite of Google cybersecurity solutions, including Google Cloud Armor, Security Command Center and Cloud IDS (Intrusion Detection System).
It also uses a range of developer tools including Artifact Registry for maintaining images of code and Pub/Sub for internal messaging.
So, what’s next for Beryl? Manson-Smith reveals the company plans lots more growth in the months ahead. That means more strategic partnerships with communities, more bikes and e-scooters, and more sustainable, customer-centric services.
During 2023, the firm plans to increase adoption among customers who don’t have smartphone access.
Manson-Smith’s team is developing a service enabling customers to unlock vehicles by sending an SMS text message. And thanks to Google Cloud Carbon Footprint, the Beryl team can calculate and manage the CO2 emissions associated with this innovation and others as its cloud usage grows, which is vital for a company with sustainability at its heart.