How IT is Revolutionising UK Retail

Here is the short talk I gave to the UKtech50 about how IT is revolutionising IT in the UK, and what we are doing with IT in John Lewis.

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

Cloud

Big Data

Social Media

Mobility

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

Mobility

How Technology will change the World in 2012

I make no claims for originality in these predictions. A characteristic of our connected social media world is that we take our ideas from everyone else – and these are no exception…

  • With “the integration of everything”, apps will work on smartphones, computers and TVs everywhere. You’ll access your email, social media and applications on any device anywhere.
  • The Cloud will turn computing into a utility (at last – after many years of predictions). This will open massive expandable computing power on demand.
  • The Cloud will be not just for businesses but individual consumers. Look at how Facebook – operating in the Cloud – is conquering the world. And Apple’s personal assistant app, Siri – Steve Jobs’ final initiative – will open an infinity of new apps which will learn what you want and, in time, even how you think….
  • Kindle and iPad were the big commercial volume successes of 2011, meaning that Amazon and Apple will be major platforms for – and could also become major publishers for – what we used to call books, films, magazines and newspapers.
  • The TV will be the revolutionary technology device of 2012, with intelligence provided by connectivity from pads and smartphones, no longer presenting just TV channels but everything that is out there on the net and becoming a key element of social media.
  • Social media will continue to grow and will continue to revolutionise  the way we shop, how people remove tyrants, spread our new ideas, connect with friends, family and fellow enthusiasts globally – in short, everything…

SITA/Airline Business IT Summit – Opening Keynote June 2011

I blogged about the SITA/Airline Business IT Summit earlier on 25 June.

You can now see a video of the introduction which talks about the ways that IT is transforming the Air Transport Industry again.

I suggested at the start of the Summit that IT is now central not only to all the back-of-house processes that make airlines and airports function but also – with the Internet and Social Networking – has become the key differentiator front-of-house too, in terms of customer interactions.

Airlines and airports now have customers who expect ease-of-use and connectivity everywhere.

Four ‘Big C’ Megatrends will change the technology and the airline business:

* Convergence

* Communications

* Connectivity

* Cloud

I suggest that the winners will be those companies that use technology to anticipate and solve customer problems.  Speed and agility in adopting new technologies will be critical success factors for the future – and deciding when to adopt new technology will be a key skill for CEOs and CIOs alike.

More on ’50 Things I wish I had known…’

I looked recently through the material Simon LaFosse posted following the Event I did for him back at the end of May.

It was – by some way – the scariest piece of public speaking I have done, on account of the number of CIOs, IT Directors and other IT industry people in the audience.  They know what being a CIO is like.

There is a handy – and quite pacey – summary on Simon’s site of what I said that evening, based around my “50 Things I wish I had known before becoming a CIO”.

Reading that summary through makes me realise I need to take some more of my own medicine.  Or, to put it another way, please don’t anyone think I actually manage to do all of this: the 50 things are what I want to do and am trying to do.  Real life is as ever both more complicated and more interesting!

If you are interested in more, there is the actual “50 Things” booklet I self-published on Lulu .com.

Customer Interaction – the next frontier for Airline IT

The 11th SITA/Airline Business IT Summit held in June in Brussels was, I think, the best yet.

I had the hard task at the end of the Summit – after a string of fascinating and lively speeches and presentations – of summarising those contributions.  This is what I said then.

Our first speaker was Peter Hartman, CEO of KLM, who told us about his team of over 20 members who drive KLM’s social networking strategy.  They were responsible for the ground-breaking initiative at Schiphol where they delighted passengers waiting to Board with small presents, tailored to their destination and their interests (as inferred from their Facebook or other social presence).   As Peter said about social networking, “Do it, don’t talk!”

Peter predicted that in future people will choose the airline they fly on through the recommendations of their social media connections.  After all, most of us use Trip Adviser now to check out hotels in advance.

In response to questions, Peter returned to the basics of what CEOs expect from Airline CIOs – the technology needs to work reliably and to costs must keep going down!

Dr Munir Majid, Chairman of MAS, talked about the convergence of technology in a “flattening World”.  Dr Majid argued that innovation matters for survival – something he illustrated with Malaysian’s innovative use of Facebook for Group bookings.

Jan Albrecht, CEO of the Star Alliance, stressed the importance of doing more IT for less.  He saw it as essential that airline IT departments provided users with modern IT tools and technology that worked with app-like ease.   Fresh thinking was essential these days in the new social-networked world.  He mused on what Steve Jobs would do for airline technology.   He asked how we as an industry could catch up with our customers’ expectations.

Having had a challenging start from the CEOs on both social networking and getting the basics right, the audience of IT Directors and CIOs returned (after a nerve-steadying cup of coffee) to a technical session on Cloud Computing.

This was a double act from Vivek Badrinath and Francesco Violante, the CEOs of OBS and SITA.  They described what I believe is going to be a game-changer for the Air Transport Industry – the Industry’s own private Cloud.  OBS and SITA described how they would provide on-demand services from a network of six data-centres in five Continents to airlines and airports – consistently, securely and cost-effectively.  Francesco pointed to the possibility of savings from virtual CUTE and SSKs, and on-demand apps.

After lunch, we were privileged to hear two industry technology experts who attempted to shock the audience: Philip Wolf, CEO of PhoCusWright, looked at how mobility and connectivity were transforming today’s travel industry. Online booking was continuing to grow and there would be 2billion new travelers by 2030.  “What would the impact of a travel app from Google be?” he asked.  His challenge to the audience was to wake up to the impact of mobility and connectivity – these days, devices know where you are, who you like and what you want.

Then Nawal Taneja, Professor of Aviation at Ohio State University, warmed to this theme and urged airlines to provide genuinely personalized service.  What if Google or Apple could take over the retail distribution of airline services? Then, he warned, the airlines would become simply the ‘manufacturer’ of seats!

Chris Klingenberg, CIO of Lufthansa (and fellow SITA Board member), provided what he termed an antidote to all this very technology-based agenda.  He said airlines would not be so foolish as to give away their “crown jewels” in the form of the link to their customers.  They would remain masters of their own destiny.   He also advanced the refreshing notion that you should be proud of higher IT spend than your competitors since this showed you were innovating ahead of them.   He advocated bringing IT out of the “Techie Corner” and getting the Boardroom to understand how important it was.  Great points, I thought!

We then finished with two excellent contributions, the first from Antoine Rostworowski, of Aeroports de Montreal, who stressed the importance of integrating airports into the new visions for airline passengers.  Then Qiang Li, MD of Information Management at Air China, talked about the challenges of massive growth that they face.  He came up with a tremendous list of the IT initiatives he is leading, which would form a great ‘to do’ list for any airline CIO:

  • Cloud Computing
  • Mobile
  • Social Networking
  • Passenger Service Systems
  • Customer Relationship Management, and
  • In-flight Connectivity.

So then I had to try to summarise what all this adds up to!  I think the most important fact is that there was total agreement between CEOs and CIOs, analysts and suppliers, airlines and airports, that IT really matters in the modern world.

We have heard that before and it is really important.  But there is another new factor: we in IT are now central to the airlines’ and airports’ relationship with customers through game-changing technology – mobility is now ubiquitous and social networking adds a completely new dimension to customer relationships.

So, IT matters – and that’s now widely recognised.

And IT is central to airlines in operations, in selling, in servicing and, now, in customer interaction.

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