First published on 23rd January, 2017
Ai Editorial: Rather than just banking on historical data, airlines also have to assess data emanating from connected devices, and accordingly collect, manage, and analyze real-time data, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta
As a traveller, how would you define your experience – satisfying, extremely annoying, wonderful…? Evaluating such emotional reaction can be an arduous task for an airline.
It’s becoming increasingly important for travel brands to deliver a connected experience, and for this there is a need to integrate touchpoints, context and also refine the ability to optimize workforce and processes.
So how to get closer to knowing the customer as well as the emotion associated with their journey/ lifecycle?
Specialists point out that the answer lies in knowing the data, but it is easier said than done as one needs to bridge the gap between data and human emotion, which is a sum of multiple interactions (emanating from multiple devices, sessions etc.). So how to bridge this gap in the connected consumer journey?
The answer lies in working on a single source of truth about the traveller – it is still a work in progress. But one thing is for sure – one needs to gear up for today’s connected era. An era in which airlines need to count on both historical and real-time data (what is happening now) in their data center, via the cloud.
Here’s how change is taking place:
· Connectivity: “Be your own API,” this statement during one of our conferences in Kuala Lumpur last year is a testament of the fact systems that airlines operate can no longer be “closed”.
APIs are integral part of any data-centric organization as a layer of API paves way for technology integration. It is vital for vendors to gear up for open API to facilitate connectivity or integration with other programs. Airlines are becoming more customer-focused and are attempting to effectively use the customer data which they already have, but the processing of the data and on-request real time usage is definitely a challenge. It is especially a problem of data integration from different systems based on completely different philosophy and aggregation methods. “I would find legacy PSS systems as a major obstacle in getting quick and well aggregated customer view as it requires complicated interfacing which may impact data accuracy and reliability,” says an experienced e-commerce executive. Now evolving from a PSS to a new version isn’t easy, but as shown by the hospitality sector, time has come for systems to be designed for true cloud environment, for instance there are hotel systems with full PMS (property management) functionality as well as API connectivity for other companies to integrate within.
· “Actionable” data: Airlines, just like retailers, need to garner and assess the rising amount of data on a continuous basis, turnaround the same into actionable intelligence in order to improve customer experience as per their booking journey or their respective customer lifecycle.
Airlines have to gear up for various data types and vast volumes of data – manage volume, the response time, structured and unstructured data such as text, sensor data etc. The quality of data lays a strong foundation.
Organizations must consider latest cloud native big data services to tap into for all kinds of common data use cases. Experts say one can start modeling and analyzing data sets in minutes. There are enterprise-level open data platforms that are capable of releasing actionable intelligence from all data: data-in-motion (the process of analyzing data on the fly without storing it) and data-at-rest (data stored on a hard drive, archived etc.). Use cases include algorithms that spot where travellers are in the lifecycle and then evaluate the chance of conversion, defection, or inactivity; geo-relevant shopping recommendations, for instance, a voucher for lounge at the airport depending upon the shopping behavior shown on airline.com or even app post booking etc.; predicted future value for every single traveller etc.
· Cloud: There are questions related to cloud/ platform as well – how to make the most of Hadoop open source programming framework? How to integrate the same with existing enterprise data? How to set up business intelligence applications? The role of a platform can’t be undermined as it allows to connect, secure, mobilize, share data, and get insights across applications. The platforms need to support enterprise-level configurability to meet business needs. Nowadays platforms are being driven by cognitive capabilities to integrate all data sources on one common platform. Companies like IBM have worked on offerings that allow deployment of data assets in an automated manner, and leverage an open ecosystem. To serve customers better, such platforms should facilitate continuous refining of omnichannel customer data profiles and should be handy for all sorts of customer campaign and engagement. This should include all interactions from digital, physical, and mobile channels. And eventually machine learning and predictive models should be able to enhance the relationship.
· New technology: Technology and its use tend to move faster than airlines, hotels etc., so the travel industry needs to respond in a swift manner. For instance, the potential of IoT commerce requires airlines to embrace mobility, connectivity and IoT thought processes and strategies. As highlighted in one of our recent articles, in the airline environment, IoT can connect travellers’ baggage to their mobile device for real-time tracking and updates. It can create verified IDs from distributed documents, speeding the process of passing through security, customs or boarding a plane. It can be used to provide real-time alerts about flight changes, status updates or emergency notifications.
Airlines need to prioritize and re-look at their systems around payments, data collection, data integration, security and other activities. Instead of storing data in separate silos or divisions, the IoT assumes that data can be accessed and acted upon in real time, regardless of where it originates. Are airlines looking at this aspect of their IT infrastructure?
IoT cloud service are being used to streamline management - connect devices to the cloud, analyze data in real time, and integrate data with enterprise applications, web services etc.
Once an organization is in a position to capitalize on data from any source—cloud, on-premises, big data repositories, IoT etc. then only one can think of being in control, and getting closer to knowing the emotional reaction, and possibly the reason behind it.
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