BIg IT Trends in Air Transport

As Chair of the SITA Board I’ll again be hosting the Air Transport Industry IT Summitin Brussels, which this year takes place on June 18-20. Remarkably, this will be the 14th Summit. I put the endurance of the event down to its focus on the big social and IT trends that air transport CIOs and other industry IT professionals are having to grapple with.  

Of the many trends we’ll be discussing over the course of the event, three in particular promise some exciting developments in air transport and I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about them.

The first is retailing by airlines, or more specifically ‘retail enablement’. Airlines need to become much savvier at retailing when they engage with their customers. They need to look beyond the core task of moving travelers from A to B, as well as beyond their frequent flyer programmes, and focus on the entire customer relationship. IT is essential, but charting the course will not be easy.  

Then there’s the promise of BigData. Airlines, airports, tour operators and others will need to realize this promise and capitalize on the benefits of big data analytics. Again, we need to chart the way forward as an industry and as individual organizations: not just to gain better profiles of customers but also to gain insights from the vast amounts of operational data that our industry generates.

My third trend to watch at this year’s Summit is the so-called ‘mobile explosion’. We’re constantly hearing about the efforts of airline and airports to innovate in mobilizing their workforces and empowering passengers through their smartphones. The potential for mobile to enhance operations and CRM is vast, bringing with it the need for the industry to relook at processes. We will also see a big future impact on air transport coming from other industries, such as banking and retail, as mobility permeates their ways of working.

I think these are transformative times for the air transport industry and IT trends like this are at the very heart of it.

You can join the conversation on the Linked In ‘Air Transport Information Technology’ group.*2_*2_*2_lna_PENDING_*2.gmr_4443272.gde_4443272_member_240648445.gmr_4443272

And you can follow this year’s IT Summit at #ATIS2013 


Closing of the SITA/Airline Business IT Summit 2012

This is my summing up of the Closing of the IT Summit

Key themes that came up were the ones I had highlighted at the start


Big Data

Social Media


I also picked two other key themes that had emerged during the Summit, one a business theme:

How the whole air transport eco-system and community has to join up for customers at the same time as airlines and airports compete intensely with each other

and a techy theme:

How web services will enable the joining up of the industry.

There seemed to me to be remarkable convergence during the day on these six themes.

Joining it all up using technology is of course where SITA comes in.

We need to pull it all together to make it easy to fly.

Opening of the SITA/Airline Business IT Summit

Here is my Opening of IT Summit 2012

I have highlighted 4 Mega IT Trends as the prime movers in shaping tomorrow’s airline industry:

The IT Cloud

Big Data

Social Media


Summing Up the SITA/Airlne Business IT Summit

Every year at the end of the IT Summit, I have both the honour and the challenge of summing up the proceedings. 

It’s a challenge since I have to summarise the contributions of the distinguished speakers, and often the results of some interesting debates, and then draw conclusions from them.  I hope I will be able to post both my introductory challenge and my concluding remarks here as video clips. 

Meanwhile, particularly for those who were there, here is a summary of what I suggested were the conclusions of the Summit.  This year it was easier than most years because the presentations and the discussions converged in a remarkable way.

In my opening I said there were 4 “Mega IT Trends” that would hit the air transport industry in the the next few years.  These were:

* the Cloud

* Big Data

* Social Media and

* Mobility

From Tony Tyler’s Keynote in the morning to Henry Harteveldt at the close these themes DID keep coming back.

But there were two additional themes that also came through, which I felt were the glue which will join up these 4 technological Mega Trends.  One was a techie piece of glue and the other was behavioural glue.  

The techie super-glue was

* Web Services

And the behavioural adhesive was 

* Collaboration across the Air Transport Industry or as we in SITA call it Air Transport Community (ATC)

First, web services which Madame Xiong and Dr Krieg from Beijing and Frankfurt Airports – 2 of the leading airports in the World – and our own Jim Peters SITA CTO talked about.  Smart use of web services, open APIs and Service Oriented Architecture could join up apps, data, social media and mobile devices across the industry.

Second there was Tony’s central theme of how the elements of the whole air transport industry – not just airlines – must work together to provide better service for customers, and indeed to ensure that the industry was sustainable.  

Competition will intensify and should, but there are areas where airlines and airports, GDSs and government agencies need to share information so that the whole air transport eco-system works better.  

This is where SITA can help.   As the commercial co-operative company owned by the ATC, SITA can provide an honest broker role at the interface between the airlines, airports, government agencies and GDSs.  As a provider of technology networks and services to air transport we can help “join up the dots” in the new world of the Cloud, big data, social media and ubiquitous customer and employee connectivity on smart phones and tablets.   This would be an interesting reinvention of SITA’s original mission from 63 years ago. 

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