Lyft’s CIO talks tech trends and sustainability in transport

4 Mar 2022

Amy Farrow. Image: Lyft

The CIO of the ride-sharing company is hoping to change the transportation industry, which is currently a ‘fragmented set of services’.

Amy Farrow is the chief information officer and VP of technical programme management at US ride-hailing company Lyft.

She has more than 15 years’ experience in high-tech positions and has previously worked for major tech brands such as Twitter and Salesforce. She has a degree in management science and information systems from Pennsylvania State University.

Future Human

At Lyft, Farrow leads a team of product managers, engineers and IT managers responsible for LyftOS, the company’s productivity tool. She also leads the technical programme management team responsible for cross-functional initiatives across the company.

‘The future of transportation is digital, sustainable, autonomous and shared’

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing in the current IT landscape?

We are all facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the pandemic. Among the most pressing include supporting both remote and essential work, securing and protecting our assets, mitigating the risks of global supply chain threats and retaining and attracting talent.

We prioritise being very open and honest about the challenges and uncertainties we are facing, the decisions we are making, the risks we are mitigating, and I believe it is crucial to collaborate closely with business leaders on all key technology decisions.

Too often, IT operates in a silo or vacuum when it is inextricably responsible for providing the air, food and water for the company and its employees to do their best work. We’re focused on return on investment and the impact of technology to shape and frame our toughest decisions and investments.

On the talent front, we are investing in people development programmes such as sponsorship, mentorship, feedback coaching, book clubs and external development programmes and certifications.

Beyond that, we’ve instituted a very strong customer-centric focus in corporate engineering and have a strong bias to action and impact, which provides growth opportunities at all levels but also makes doing the work fun.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation?

Digital transformation is a means not an end. Technology at its best makes things easier and simpler and removes unnecessary friction.

Lyft is reshaping the transportation industry by making it simpler. Transportation today is a fragmented set of services, which is why Lyft is reimagining and transforming the future of transportation into an intelligent and integrated transportation network.

We’re driving this technology transformation by bringing together ride-sharing, micromobility and personal car services into one integrated experience.

In effect, we’re giving people crucial time back and working to create a world where cities are designed around people, not cars. Lyft represents the future of transportation and I couldn’t be more excited about the impact this will have on the environment, my children and how we all experience our cities.

What are your thoughts on how sustainability can be addressed from an IT perspective?

Lyft is building a transportation network that provides easy access to low-carbon mobility solutions. Core to our network is our integration with transit and our micromobility offerings such as bikes and scooters.

As a result, we’re making it easy for people to minimise their carbon footprint through simple, reliable access to low-carbon rides directly in the Lyft app. Millions of people use our solutions, and we are the largest bike-share operator in the US.

We’re also heavily invested in equitable access to EVs and low-carbon transportation and announced our commitment to reach 100pc EVs on the Lyft platform by 2030.

During the pandemic, we needed to ensure Covid protocols were a priority above sustainability – thus we disabled shared rides but were able to re-introduce them in select cities starting in the summer of 2021.

Specifically related to corporate engineering, we focus on a few ways to prioritise sustainability. First, while everyone wants the latest technology, we truly believe in ensuring team members have the necessary equipment to do their job. As such, we have a refresh cycle for corporate laptops at the three-year mark, balancing productivity and sustainability.

Second, we are heavily invested in the cloud for all business applications. Third, we recycle all of our equipment and provide it to organisations that can use outdated equipment.

Finally, we work with suppliers in regions we operate in to minimise the carbon footprint, especially while we continue to operate in a remote working, flexible environment.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world?

Our mission is to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation and our worldview is that the future of transportation is digital, sustainable, autonomous and shared.

With regards to innovation in tech, we’re using our tech expertise to solve some of transportation’s biggest challenges creating simple and reliable experiences whether booking a ride, renting a car or finding vehicle services.

We take the consumer tech experience we have in one vertical to reinvent the customer experience in others. Our deep investment in technology and seamless integration shows our commitment to creating the best customer experience.

The trends I’m watching and are excited about are Web3, crypto and, while there is a lot to be figured out, it’s clear that the internet itself is going through its own transformation.

What are your thoughts on how we can address the security challenges currently facing your industry?

While it may seem that a defensive approach should be the norm, I strongly believe that the most important strategic approach to security is one that is proactive and predictive.

At Lyft, we continue to invest in security and privacy so that we can continue to stay ahead of the evolving threat landscape.

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