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By Joshua Norrid, Industry VP, Travel and Leisure, Progress Software
It was a pleasure to attend the SITA Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels and to see more than 300 delegates taking part in a lively, energetic discussion on a wide range of issues affecting the Travel and Leisure industry. Interestingly, of all the topics of conversation we saw during the two-day summit, the one that delegates kept coming back to was the extent to which technology was helping to bring them closer to their customers. But how prevalent is the travel technology revolution in the airline industry – and can it really add value?
It’s clear that the industry today finds itself is in a period of significant transition. With more congestion on the ground, and more complicated systems and processes in place, there’s an increased likelihood of things going wrong, meaning that for many, irregular operations are increasingly becoming the new standard. As a result, more organizations are turning to technology to help them predict these irregularities, manage contingencies and add value to their customers.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that today’s customers are very different to those we saw five or ten years ago. Advances in consumer technology in recent years mean that we’ve seen sweeping changes in customer behaviour during the same period, which brings its own set of challenges. Today’s passengers are a new breed of technology-savvy consumer who are ready, willing and able to tell people what is happening at all stages of their journey, using their smartphone or other mobile devices – particularly if they feel something is going wrong.
This, in turn, means that airlines must work even harder to connect the dots for their customers, with many turning to complex event processing (CEP) software which allows them to keep track of everything from reservations to the status of baggage as they strive to be truly responsive to the needs of their passengers.
Another key theme at the summit was the willingness to embrace cloud computing as a solution. In the past, concerns over the feasibility of cloud solutions have dominated, but this year was different. Indeed, most of the people I spoke to seemed to agree that by owning 100% of their assets, they had been missing a significant number of opportunities. As a result of coming to this conclusion, many had been entering into serious discussions around investing in cloud solutions, with some building the infrastructure required to deliver reservation and departure information as well as enhanced customer service across this platform.
Of course, while concerns remain about speed and security of cloud services, it’s perhaps too much of a stretch to argue that widespread adoption of this technology is imminent. But what is clear is the extent to which the industry is waking up to the fact that cloud and other technologies can benefit and enable their customers.
In the twenty-first century, the technology-enabled customer is king, and those in the industry are having to work harder than ever to give them the information they need, and to provide solutions which will increase the overall quality of service. The role that technology can play in bridging this gap should not be overestimated – isn’t it time you asked how prepared your organization is for the technological revolution?
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