Wolfgang Gruel and Frank Piller say that transportation customers are on the cusp of having seamless travel experiences that synchronize all transit options. But making this vision a reality requires knitting together previously independent systems — in part through smart data and the Internet of Things.

“Intermodal routing is nothing new,” write Wolfgang Gruel and Frank Piller in “A New Vision for Personal Transportation,” their article in the Winter 2016 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review. “It simply means you’re using more than one mode of transportation — car, bus, bike, walking, train, subway, plane, or anything else — on a given route.”

What is new, though, are advancements that enable intermodal routing on a large scale and in real time.

On February 5, 2016, MIT Sloan Management Review hosted a webinar where Gruel and Piller detailed the examples and themes set forth in their article. They explained that to provide transportation customers with a seamless experience that includes not just planning, but traveling itself, independent systems are beginning to work together in more holistic ways. Integrated smart data ecosystems are crossing corporate boundaries thanks to standards in collecting and sharing data and data-gathering capabilities brought on by the Internet of Things.

Wolfgang Gruel, a former visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab, is a manager at the route-planning service moovel GmbH, a Daimler AG subsidiary that produces a smartphone app for users to organize travel routes. Frank Piller is co-director of the MIT Smart Customization Group and a professor of technology and innovation management at RWTH Aachen University in Aachen, Germany.

During the session, Gruel and Piller discussed smart data, the Internet of Things, and mass customization, with insights into how they are all working together in the transportation industry, particularly in Germany. The webinar was moderated by Michael Fitzgerald, a contributing editor at MIT SMR. The conversation was highlighted on Twitter at the hashtag #MITSMRevent.