By Rhoderick van der Wyck, global industry practice lead, travel transport & logistics, BT
The internet of things is transforming the way we live and work. From smartphones and tablets to streetlights and connected cars, smart technology and joined up systems are empowering consumers, transforming businesses and creating the foundations of the smart cities of the future.
In the air travel industry, sensors and smart internet-enabled devices generate large amounts of operational and real time data. This “big data” is bringing about a wave of change that hasn’t been seen in the industry for a long time. For example, a jet engine can generate 1TB of data per flight. With the right system in place, airlines can dig into this vast amount of data and use the information to help reduce fuel costs, improve the travel experience and enhance operational efficiency.
We live in an age where customer experience is pivotal. Understanding an individual’s preferences is essential to delivering a personal service, which in turn breeds loyalty. Mobile technology is helping to drive today’s customer-centric business model by pushing the relevant information and processes out to people and putting them in control.
But it’s not just about pumping out endless streams of data, airlines need to add value for the customer at every stage of the journey, from booking, travelling to the airport and checking-in to boarding and disembarkation.
More advanced analytics will help, but technology itself is not enough here; businesses have to rewire their entire organisation to put the customer and customer service at the heart of everything they do.
This means capturing data at every touchpoint – from flight searches and bookings to boarding and in-flight systems to get a full picture of a customer’s preferences and expectations. Pushing this beyond existing loyalty schemes, airlines can get real insights about travel behaviour and choices.
The smart devices that are empowering consumers can also help unleash the full potential of airlines. Smart technology can help improve efficiency by enabling real-time planning. For example, sensors can alert operations centres while the plane is in the air so that any maintenance can be scheduled as soon as it lands. This means less downtime and more flying time for customers, which can translate into bigger profits for airlines.
Providing these services means airlines must have access to the right information in the right format at the right time, regardless of device and location. This requires joined-up systems behind the scenes, something traditional communications networks have so far struggled to deliver.
The spread of connectivity, the computing demands of big data and the need to be able to move quickly and scale operations up and down as required has seen many organisations move from traditional communications networks to embrace the cloud. The power, flexibility and agility of cloud computing enables organisations to deal better with the challenge of finding ways to gather, analyse and act on insight from the information airlines now have access to.
Access to data and insight changes everything. Being able to see what’s happening in real-time, to make informed business decisions and respond instantly offers airlines many advantages.
Data is being generated by almost every aspect of maintaining and running an aircraft and the dynamic between airport and passengers. Sensors and smart internet-enabled devices generate large amounts of operational and real-time data. This data has to be integrated, automated and analysed to convert it into useful information and insights that can transform the business. Security is also an important priority and airlines need to make sure the data on their systems and networks is protected.
By providing access to additional computing resources, flex contact centre support up and down in line with demand, cloud technologies can help transform airlines to meet existing and emerging challenges.
Getting the right connectivity and IT infrastructure in place can be the foundation for a complete transformation of the way the air transport industry operates. The organisations who derive the most value from their data rather than just connecting the most devices to their network will be the ones that succeed.