The growing influence of accessing big data has undoubtedly captured the attention of airline companies, and influenced how they make strategic investments.
According to Dean Bibb, VP Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa at technology solutions provider Sabre, to an airline, one of the most important tasks is managing customers – knowing their profile and habits, then engaging them in conversation in order to retain their loyalty.
The easy access and availability of customer data through technology has made personalisation of customers possible, says Bibb.
Airlines need to understand the key business drivers being derived from the data, and use it to help drive a better customer experience and generate revenue opportunities, he adds.
"They are able to be proactive in their communications with the customer by sending notifications to update them about flight delays and promotions through wearable technology and smartphones.
"Because big data is now available easily, airlines can analyse the data and get to know their customers as individuals. They can become both proactive and reactive in the way they communicate with the customer."
Bibb points out although technology is available to help airlines integrate their system in order to have a "360-degree" view of customers, most airlines have developed separate systems for their various operations, and these often do not communicate with each other.
"The technology is there, but airlines are not adopting it because of the cost. They are running on real-time and therefore, for them to migrate have to an integrated system, it has to be in a very controlled and careful way," says Bibb.
This migration needs a lot of project management and analysis to ensure the functionality the airlines have today will be working in the future, adds Bibb. Also, the new functions they are getting from new technology will give the business benefits in the future.
In most markets where labour is cheap, new technologies are not as quickly adopted as in markets were labour is expensive, says Bibb. "But if an airline business is brave enough to take a leap and embrace new technology, it will gain a competitive edge."
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