Friday, 17 July 2009

After the Air Transport IT Summit

It was a great experience. The two day event was well organised, with lots of opportunities to meet the IT, airline, and airport executives from around the world, and exchange experiences and views about the future impact of information technology on the improvements in airline operational and cost efficiency.

The majority of speakers focused on innovative solution aimed at functional enhancements in airline operations, passenger services and aircraft emission management (mobile applications, SITA's Aircraft Emissions Manager), with too little time left to cover a wider role of technology in tackling some of the hottest industry issues like quick cost reduction and business simplification. Apart from rhetoric about the need for process simplification and further cost saving heard from several speakers, little was mentioned about the absence of management tools needed to achieve these goals.

Many airlines are struggling to get a basic understanding about where and why the organisation is losing money and what can be done about it. Leaders are left without multidimensional view of their business, essential for strategic as well as for the ongoing decision making. Current Enterprise Information Systems designed to provide this information continue to be a major headache for airline leaders, mainly because they are costly, take great deal of time to implement and then become legacy from the day they go live. In general, things like poorly designed information systems, or unanticipated difficulties in creation of common IT systems following the airline mergers are usually hidden loss generators that cannot be easily identified and eliminated. Useful insights about some of these issues and future IT trends could be found in the latest Airline Business / SITA Airline IT Trends Survey launched during the Summit.

I may have expected too much from the event, but still feel a bit disappointed that such a rare cross-industry gathering hasn’t been better used as a launch-pad for innovative IT solutions related to system, and not just functional improvements.

If you want to know what several of the key speakers said about the Summit, here is the video interview.

I will be occasionally blogging about the impact of various IT issues on airline operational disruptiveness and cost efficiency.