Innovation: our strength drives
public transport efficiency

Interview with the CFO Dr Marco Ferber

You were appointed to the Executive Board in 2023. What was your experience in starting your new job at init?

I joined in March, just before the publication of the annual accounts. This period is particularly challenging for a CFO. I had to quickly familiarise myself with a number of complex topics and make a solid assessment of the company's situation. My team and my colleagues at Board level gave me exemplary support. This meant I was able to help set the course quickly. This includes, among other things, the further development of the financial organisation and sustainability reporting.

What is it that interests you most about INIT's business?

When called upon to outline the various stages of my career, I like to describe the industries in which I have worked as “intelligent infrastructure” services – areas of business that help to make large technical systems more user-friendly, which I find extremely exciting. With the aim of making public transport more attractive and efficient through digitalisation, INIT ticks all the boxes for me. In addition, I think INIT's innovative achievements are enormous. Our industry is undergoing a technological transformation and we are helping our customers take advantage of the new opportunities with highly innovative solutions – from smart ticketing solutions and charge management systems to AI-based optimisation algorithms for planning and operations. I'm extremely excited about all of this.

You previously worked as a consultant and as a member of management at an industrial service provider. What experience from previous jobs will help you most in your new position?

In my professional life so far, I have been able to gain extensive experience in the financial sector and have acquired some very useful tools. This also applies to topics such as project management and the planning of management processes. However I am also used to taking a strategic perspective and can quickly get a handle on new situations. This helps me decide what tasks I can delegate to my team and what I need to take care of myself.

We enable our clients to increase their efficiency. For example, through driving assistance systems or optimisation models.

What priorities do you intend to focus on in your work as a member of the Board in the future?

One important point is preparing for our further growth. To date we have been very successful in the area of ticketing, among other things. In the US alone, we have completed ten major projects. Nonetheless we also need to lay the foundations for further growth. Providing software-as-a-service and, in some cases, even managing operational tasks for our customers will play an important role. This will give rise to new business models that we as a company will need to adapt to.

Let's take a look at the past financial year. How would you sum up performance in 2023?

In its 40th anniversary year, INIT has enjoyed many significant successes. We completed a number of important projects, including the final acceptance of a regional, multimedia e-ticketing system in the metropolitan area of the city of Portland, Oregon in North America. In addition, we worked extensively on new major tenders during 2023, the benefits of which we are now seeing in the first quarter of 2024. One example of this is an order for a new fare management system in Atlanta – INIT’s most extensive ticketing project to date and the first to be hosted completely in the public cloud with cloud-native services. There is also a major order from London to supply a technology system that includes on-board computers for more than 8,000 buses, a background system and support services. These are remarkable successes for our company. In addition, we have further advanced our nextGen innovation offering, underlining our innovative strengths. Our financial results were also satisfactory, although we still have some room for improvement.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities and challenges for the company in the coming years?

Sustainability, digitalisation and global demographic change are megatrends that are leading to growing demands on public transport and associated increasing investments. This offers significant opportunities for INIT, as our portfolio puts us in an ideal position to address this change. Risks for us, on the other hand, arise from the geopolitical situation with supply chains, which remain fragile. However, I see the biggest challenge in managing our growth, which calls for qualified and highly motivated IT staff. Such resources are becoming increasingly difficult to find. That's why we are strengthening our brand as an employer by relieving employees of unnecessary burdens, for example, giving them more freedom for value-adding work.

Why is INIT able to benefit so much from the megatrends of climate protection and digitalisation?

Because these megatrends will have a major impact on passenger transport and consequently also on our industry in the coming years. Our competitive advantage derives from our understanding of public transport processes in combination with our technical expertise. One example of this is the switch to electric vehicles, something that poses major challenges for transport companies. That's why we support them in managing mixed fleets powered by electricity and combustion engines. In addition, there are driving assistance systems that enable savings of up to 40 percent of fuel, while at the same time reducing costs and making a contribution to sustainable management. In the future, our clients will increasingly use optimisation tools controlled by artificial intelligence. These are just a few examples of how we can enable our clients to increase their efficiency.

You have already mentioned the main topic for 2024: “Increasing efficiency. Shaping success.” To what extent do you see INIT as a company also embrace this mission?

Currently, every business has to ask itself how it can save on resources while at the same time increase efficiency. The same goes for INIT. There is no doubt that we have been very successful in recent years. However, in order to cope with future growth, we need to make our processes even more efficient. Digitalisation is also the central starting point here. We need to check what can be omitted, automated or simplified. Where can interfaces be improved? These are topics that are and will remain important – for us and our clients.

Thank you very much for talking with us.