'Do It Yourself' Packages To Transform Flying Experience
Chandrashekhar Nene, VP-IT, Kingfisher Airlines, discusses the significance of 'Do-It-Yourself' Packages for airlines wishing to revolutionise the flying experience for their customers.
Chandrashekhar Nene, VP-IT, Kingfisher Airlines, discusses the significance of 'Do-It-Yourself' Packages for airlines wishing to revolutionise the flying experience for their customers in a detailed discussion with Biztech2.0. Excerpts:
What are some of the mission critical applications in the airline industry?
Any application, which is crucial to revenue generation, is mission critical to the organisation. In the airline industry, the booking application holds utmost importance as it allows customers to make flight reservations. It is absolutely necessary to run this application 24/7, since the airline will not be able to get any guest on board if it becomes dysfunctional. Besides, applications which generate flight plans for particular routes are also very significant for airlines. This flight plan has to be absolutely correct and needs to be generated at a designated time, which is generally 30 to 35 minutes before the flight departure time.
What is your comment on the level of IT adoption in the airline industry?
The airline industry is one of the biggest adopters of IT as most airline operations and aircraft working are heavily IT reliant. Guest satisfaction, for example, is very important in our line of business. Without an efficient IT system, we would never be able to get accurate and detailed guest feedback. With the help of this feedback, which is reported under IT systems, we can tailor our offerings to meet customer requirements more satisfactorily.
Which IT applications according to you will gain significance in the future?
CRM and mobility solutions are the two most powerful tools that the IT industry can lend to the airline industry to improve its operational efficiency. A mobility solution implies that the customer should be able to book his tickets online and should also be able to secure his boarding pass from anywhere. The end target is that the customer should be allowed to control his complete flight experience from the comfort of his home.
As days pass by, it will become imperative to provide an end-to-end experience to customers, whether they are travelling for leisure or business purpose. This basically means that customers will be empowered to completely design their own flight packages on the Web, which is essentially known as DIY or Design Your Package. Even after coming back, guests will be allowed to share their flight experiences through a video streaming portal. This will induce other people also to follow the trend.
How can IT help in offering this package designing service?
Through IT, all possible combinations of online packages can be displayed on the portal, which would otherwise involve a bag full of brochures. It will also enable customers to control the cost of the entire flying experience. The Web is an extremely fast and cost-effective tool, which is completely at the disposal of the traveller. With the growth of the middle class, airlines have experienced growth in leisure and business travel. We are looking forward to adopting systems, which will enable us to combine several experiences in well-designed packages, totally customised to the specific needs of individuals.
What are the applications required for the Design Your Package service?
One simply needs a run-of-the-mill portal, as it is pointless to develop a special application. However, the integration of a booking engine, revenue accounting package and several other components of available applications is a major challenge. Enterprise Application Integration or fusion middleware can be used to put all these components together. An effective fusion middleware like Service Oriented Architecture can also provide the required amount of flexibility in today’s dynamic environment.
When you talk of do-it-yourself or design-your-own-package, there are several factors, which are bound to change. Let’s say a young boy decides to go for adventure tourism and later he opts for leisure tourism as well as religious tourism. It is the same individual who is adapting to different roles. In this dynamic scenario, we should be able to offer him an end-to-end experience through the same application. This can be made possible through flexible middleware architecture.
What are some of the major challenges you face when it comes to running IT systems?
As a country, we are still grappling with infrastructure shortage. We need more airports, parking lots, telecom bandwidth and most importantly, improved reliability of all available facilities. We have not yet been able to achieve 100 percent reliability in communications and power supply. Once these infrastructure challenges are surmounted, then one can actually spend more time on designing better packages.
What kind of transformation do you see in your role as a CIO in the months to come?
One of the most crucial features of the airline industry is that its services are used by several high net-worth individuals. If HNIs take domestic flights, their flight experience will span a maximum of two hours. So the onus lies on us to package a complete flying experience in a short span of two hours. The basic challenge for me is to ensure that this experience is absolutely smooth. I should also be in a position to predict the needs of our customers well in advance.
The CIO is going to be an enabler for this industry, no one else can provide this predictive information, which can be termed as the bloodstream for this industry. Apart from this, CIOs will work very closely with the marketing department in the future. As we go on to offer DIY packages, we will also become effective marketers. Again, CIOs will have all customer and business information on hand, which will enable them to provide intelligence required for the business. These two things will put CIOs among the mainstay of business. So the role of the CIO is going to gain tremendous significance in the future.
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