Contrary to popular belief, airline companies, passengers and travel partners have one thing in common: None of them want a flight to be delayed. That's right, no airline in the world is happy to delay a flight; not only does it cost them a lot of money as penalties and additional charges, but it also makes their customers hate them and trust them less – and that's only what's immediately obvious.
Blockchains, by their very nature, offer transparency, data security and decentralized operation – all of which put together will enable us to solve many of the problems that the cargo industry has been grappling with for a long time. A recent Stanford University study estimates that a good 86% of R&D initiatives around blockchain are solving genuine problems, and 55% of these are expected to make an impact within a year. Around 14% however belonged in the "hype" category according to the study. As part of our rigorous investment in R&D (into which we channel back a good percentage of our company revenue) we have experimented significantly with the operational aspects of air cargo on a blockchain platform and got some very useful insights.
Discounted or free travel privileges of airline employees (and their travel nominees) come with a significant caveat – the tickets are mostly on a 'space available' basis and therefore not confirmed until just before flight closure, and a full fare paying passenger will always be assigned a higher priority when it comes to limited availability of seats. Airline companies have access to a vital resource: data. The distinguishing factor is how well they manage the data, use it to derive insights into the booking patterns, and pass it on as meaningful information to the employee traveler to make appropriate travel decisions.
Recently, the cloud based delivery strategy of IBS received a tremendous boost at the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Warriors event. As a pioneer in deploying mission critical applications on the AWS cloud, our digital travel solution stood out for the innovative architecture, which is cloud native in design. Honestly, a lot of the stakeholders, including prospective customers and current ones who could derive a tremendous amount of value from this, haven't fully grasped the magnitude of what this offers.
Therefore let us explore in some detail the nuances of a cloud based software delivery model as it is today, as well as what it is evolving into in the near future.
Customers have been strongly embracing the new paradigm of experience, made possible through seamlessly blending online and offline channels. This view is endorsed by IATA, which has declared capitalizing on e-commerce as one of the key goals of its StB Cargo transformation program. Instead of pushing for full consolidation, the more practical solution should involve a significant effort invested in creating highly customized cargo products that enable e-commerce companies to improve the value proposition they provide to their customers.
Especially if you work for a very large airline, it is extremely difficult to overcome the inertia and gain sufficient momentum to effect a change as big as an IT system overhaul. This is precisely why there has to be tremendous executive willpower, as well as absolute clarity about the direction necessary for such a change. It is part of a CEO's job description!
IATA has declared a commitment to "deliver enhanced value for the industry by driving a safe, secure, profitable and sustainable air cargo supply chain". IATA has formally identified unregulated supply chain participants as a "threat" to air cargo, while lack of transparency and communication between stakeholders is acknowledged as a "weakness", in their Cargo Strategy document. In today's hyperconnected world, an expectation of "hyper visibility" will quickly become part of expected standards from businesses. The key question is then – are we ready as an industry to deliver? What is the state of the union today in the air cargo industry with its multitude of stakeholders to deliver to this consumer expectation? Are we well and truly in the path towards enabling hyper visibility across the supply chain and to satisfy the growing appetite for data and visibility?
While there is quite some consensus on what constitutes the ideal airline operations management platform – one that is capable of reducing/eliminating the airline's crew rostering issues, there is greater diversity in what the current platforms on the market are offering. It makes sense therefore to list down what may be considered as ideal for airline operations management.