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“Customers who use WILSON do not simply buy software, but benefit from a growing community and constant improvements,” says Fabian Stöffler

“Customers who use WILSON do not simply buy software, but benefit from a growing community and constant improvements,” says Fabian Stöffler
photo: Fabian Stöffler/“Customers who use WILSON do not simply buy software, but benefit from a growing community and constant improvements,” says Fabian Stöffler
28 / 03 / 2023

In our latest RAILTARGET exclusive, we had the opportunity to talk with Fabian Stöffler, Co-Founder & CEO of Menlo79 GmbH, the company behind the innovative staff dispatching solution, WILSON. During our fascinating conversation, Fabian shared insights into how WILSON's AI and SmartScore intelligence can improve productivity by up to 25% and reduce the administrative effort for rail operations. We also delved into the software's ability to handle unexpected changes by providing intelligent dispatching functions, as well as the company's commitment to data security and its vision for the rail industry's future.

How has the adoption of WILSON improved the performance of rail operations for your clients? Are there any success stories you can share about the impact of WILSON on employee productivity, and what are the most relevant features?

Our staff dispatching solution WILSON is still young but is attracting more and more fans in our community. Our customer and user base is growing constantly and gaining more momentum as we add more innovative features to the software. 

Some tangible benefits our customers have from using our intelligent SmartScore and AI functions is, that productivity can be increased by up to 25% because urgent staffing decisions can be made much faster than before respecting all constraints. This goes especially in unstable environments like rail freight but has a benefit in all other areas like mobile maintenance or shunting management. It goes along with a huge reduction of administrative effort since WILSON automatically identifies if staff is suitable for a shift based on qualifications and tariff restrictions as well as the personal preferences of the users. 

One example: We are very proud that we were able to reduce the total time for shift plan creation for one of our customers by more than 60% in just a couple of months by constantly optimizing the UX and handling of our solution. 

A recent success is the smooth go-live of our payroll module with more than 150 staff, which was developed together with a key customer and finally proved that WILSON can easily be integrated with other legacy systems.

That being said, we are working hard to constantly improve the solution and the benefits for our customers. Customers who use WILSON do not simply buy the solution, but they also benefit from the constant improvements that are released every two weeks.

WILSON Software

How does the software handle unexpected or last-minute changes in employee availability or train delays? Can you walk us through a specific example of how WILSON's intelligent dispatching feature helps rail operators optimize their operations in real time? 

Unlike many other workforce planning tools, WILSON focuses on short-term scheduling and offers a variety of intelligent features. If there are any last-minute deviations such as train delays or employee absences, WILSON immediately alerts the dispatcher that a shift is no longer functioning or at least is at risk. With one click, the problem can usually be resolved directly. 

Potential new employees with the appropriate qualifications and tariff rules are displayed and ranked by our SmartScore and evaluated by WILSON.AI. The best matching staff can then be assigned directly to the shift by the scheduler. Additionally, the employees' personal preferences can be taken into account through the PrefScore which is a must in an increasingly competitive job market with a shortage of skilled workers.

Last but not least, the respective worker will be notified in their mobile WILSON app with the new tasks to be covered. Any open questions can be clarified quickly with the integrated multilingual chat, and the staff can jump on the shift.

How do you ensure the security of employee data and communications within the WILSON app? What measures are in place to protect sensitive information from cyber threats or data breaches? 

All staff data is stored securely in a cloud-based web container by our provider AWS. We also limit sensitive data to an absolute minimum and only store what is really required for staff dispatching. We also have a strict permission service in place that ensures that only users with the right credentials are allowed to see certain types of data. For example, any personal data but the name is only visible to users with the HR-admin role. Of course, any WILSON account is required to change passwords on a regular basis.

What are some other examples of the digital solutions you've developed for railway and logistics companies in the past? Can you discuss a specific project and the outcomes achieved through your product development process? 

We have an extensive background in rail and have developed a variety of digital solutions also before founding Menlo79.

To give you a specific example: Besides WILSON, we have also developed an asset tracking solution that allows a quick search of rail assets which also consists of a smart algorithm for smooth track & trace of rail assets along tracks. I emphasize this, because during my time at Deutsche Bahn, we never really got the riddle solved, to present a smoothly moving rail vehicle similar to what Uber offers for the public transport experience. With our new algorithm, we finally solved the problem at M79 and can offer our customers a best-in-class experience to present moving rail assets using GPS. 

In general, at M79, we also used our product knowledge to help companies develop seamless digital solutions for a series of topics ranging from operations management of trains all the way to maintenance, ordering and fleet steering processes.

In light of the various economic, political, and social changes happening around the world, what do you see as the biggest challenges facing your company at this time, and how are you working to overcome them?

Our biggest challenge is definitely the slow pace at which the rail sector opens up to modern and innovative digital solutions such as our WILSON software. It usually takes very long discussions and up to months, until decision-makers understand, that in the future only companies with a digital mindset at the core will be able to stay ahead of the competition and provide great services.

This lack of action is further driven by the current global awareness of keeping the status quo and securing what you have when actually we should all be looking to transform faster into the new era. ChatGPT, modern AI and many other innovations will be there to help your workforce to be more productive while everyone will also enjoy less stress in their jobs. 

We facilitate this mindset change with our RAILTALKS, a partner network where already more than 30 partners are collaborating closely to drive innovation at a quicker pace. The network proves to be a very valuable asset not just for us but for all partners because questions can be answered faster, and solutions can be found easier. We strongly recommend all companies to be part of such a mastermind initiative in order to overcome the challenges ahead.