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It’s time for airlines to take off into the cloud


11 July 2016

Rhoderick van der Wyck

Blogs by author: Rhoderick van der Wyck, Global Industry Practice Lead — Travel, Transport and Logistics, BT.


The Internet of Things is transforming travel, giving airlines a bird’s-eye view of their operations, and helping to create a better experience for customers.

Connected devices.

From smartphones to streetlights and connected cars, the Internet of Things links more and more areas of our lives. By generating huge amounts of operational and real-time data, these internet-enabled devices have the ability to empower consumers, transform businesses and create the smart airports of the future.

Implications for airlines.

Air travel is a significant part of this revolution. Sensors and smart internet-enabled devices generate huge amounts of operational and real-time data. This Big Data is incredibly valuable to airlines — helping them to reduce fuel costs, enhance operational efficiency and improve customers’ experiences.

Increasing operational efficiency.

Just one example is the use of sensors on aeroplane equipment. These can alert operations centres of any malfunctions while the plane is in the air. The plane then relays this information to its next destination, or most convenient future destination, and maintenance resources can be prepared in anticipation of its arrival. This reduces downtime, meaning more flying hours, improved safety for customers and greater profits.

A better customer experience.

For the airline industry, perhaps the most lucrative aspect of the Internet of Things is the information it can provide about customers. Mobile technology today drives customer-centric business models and puts the consumer in charge. In many industries, customers enjoy a tailored, personal service, thanks in part to the data they generate via smart, connected devices.

To harness customer loyalty, it’s important that airlines focus on their customers, providing a personalised experience, based on individuals’ preferences and independent of the mode of communication. Airlines need to add value at every stage of a customer’s journey, from booking to airport transfers, check-in and in-flight service. But catering to each customer isn’t just about gathering as much data as possible.

It’s time for take off.

To make sure the customer is at the heart of what they do, airlines need to put technology in place to rewire their entire organisation. This means joining up various areas of data capture and making sure the right people have access to the right information, in the right format, at the right time — no matter where they are. Collaborating with all the stakeholders in that customer journey is the key to a more frictionless experience.

Traditional, outdated and complex communications networks struggle to deliver this kind of capability in a secure way. Collapsing these multiple networks into a single one can offer scale and flexibility at a significantly improved price point allowing airlines to focus on the customer journey rather than the supporting IT.

Disruptions to operations is a major source of customer irritation and comes at massive costs for the industry. The ability to scale operations in near real time puts strain on the peak demands of connectivity, computing power and contact centre response which requires cloud based  solutions with the appropriate security. The power, flexibility and agility of cloud solutions lets organisations gather, analyse and act on data more effectively.

A bird’s-eye view from the cloud.

Integrated cloud solutions can help to give airlines a full, bird’s-eye view of their operations. It lets them see what customers want in real-time, alongside information on almost every aspect of maintaining and running a fleet of aircraft. The cloud also helps to integrate, automate and analyse this data — converting it into information and insights that are transformative to businesses. It’s the best way for airlines to structure their operations efficiently and align their offerings with what customers want.

To find out more about how the cloud can revolutionise air travel, check out BT’s airline industry page. And take a look at our white paper: Ready for take-off.