Airlines start down the path of digital transformation

Airlines are gradually embracing a digital transformation which will revolutionise the way they interact with their customers. Airlines in Australia and New Zealand have traditionally been pioneers in digital innovation, giving them a leg up on a trend which is now sweeping across the industry.

For example, Air New Zealand was one of the first airlines to appoint a chief digital officer while Virgin Australia was one of the first airlines to appoint a chief customer officer. Qantas was the first airline to implement Amadeus Schedule Recovery, a new analytics tool that leverages a gamut of available data to reduce delays and improve customer service.

Airlines in Australia and New Zealand have traditionally been pioneers in digital innovation, giving them a leg up on a trend which is now sweeping across the industry.

Amadeus says airlines across the globe are increasingly looking to create chief customer officer and chief digital officer positions as part of a digital innovation trend it refers to as the fourth industrial revolution. For most airlines, this transformation is still in the very early stages.

Jonathon Tong, Amadeus’ head of airline IT solutions for Asia Pacific, Russia, Turkey and the CIS, said at a media briefing in Singapore that airlines generally have the necessary basic core capabilities on their passenger service systems and are just starting to discuss how to move on by enhancing user experience. Enhancing user experience is the crucial first phase and requires investments in artificial intelligence, personalisation, social tracking and merchandising platforms.

Ultimately airlines should be able to leverage artificial intelligence and proactively engage a customer with personalised offers using platforms such as Facebook rather than waiting for the customer to go to the airline’s website. The airline can also leverage the same data and artificial intelligence to provide better customer service when there is a service disruption.

Mr Tong believes the commercial desire to the embrace new digital solutions is there given the current interest level from airlines throughout Asia Pacific. However, it is a long process. “Digital transformation isn’t something you can achieve in a year,” he said.

Amadeus is opening an innovation centre in Dublin in Jun-2017 in partnership with Accenture. Amadeus intends to use the centre to show its airline customers the tools and solutions now available to bring customer service to the next level.

Airlines are becoming increasingly aware of the need to innovate and over the last year several have started down the digital transformation path. Airlines are now in different phases and have various approaches but the general trend is clear.

Amadeus says no region is necessarily ahead of others and would not talk about individual airlines due to customer confidentiality issues. However, it is clear airlines from Australia and New Zealand are well advanced and are seen by many as pioneers in this increasingly important space.