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Airlines are beginning to invest heavily in IoT to reap the benefits

The Indian aviation sector has ushered in a new wave of expansion and rapid growth by banking on cutting edge Information Technology solutions. Dataquest interacted with Mitesh Agarwal, Vice President - Sales Consulting, Oracle India, and got more insights on some of the mobility trends impacting passenger experience in the aviation industry and the benefits that airline operation can gain from smart mobility. Excerpts

What are the benefits that airline operation can gain from smart mobility?
The ubiquity of mobile is fundamentally changing how airlines operate and serve their customers. Its enabling operators provide real time, personalized touch point to customers through every step of their journey. Nearly every airline today has a mobile application to help customers book tickets, do self-service check-in, assign seats, track baggage, give real-time information on flight arrival and departure times as well as weather and traffic conditions.

Airlines are also using mobile solutions to empower on-ground and in-flight staff to provide seamless personalized service to guests. Apps are being used by ground staff to offer one-on-one customer service, support faster guest recognition and issue resolution. With International Air Transport Association approving in-flight use of iPads, some airlines have enhanced their competitive advantage by enabling cabin crew rapidly access and update passenger information, including in-flight preferences, such as meal and beverage choices on a mobile device. They also complete routine reports in-flight, such as performance reviews and safety forms, instead of using paper forms. This enhances data accuracy and the information is transferred to ground staff instantly giving them more time to focus on customer service and safety.

How is the airline sector in India leveraging technology?
The Indian aviation sector has ushered in a new wave of expansion and rapid growth by banking on cutting edge Information Technology solutions like cloud, mobility, big data analytics, etc. In fact IT is seen as a strategic investment to expand business and improve operational efficiency rather than as an infrastructure cost. Communication solutions are being deployed to share accurate, real‐time data between Air traffic, ground staff, terminal staff and aircraft to ensure seamless operations, reduce cost, ensure adherence to regulations and safety and convenience of passengers.

This is especially true of new age private airlines who have in the recent past automated and digitized a number of processes to enable Passenger self-service. Today consumers can check-in online or using a kiosk. They receive timely intimation if their flight is delayed or re-scheduled. There are apps that help passengers navigate through an airport. Airlines are using customer experience solutions to track customer engagement and identify, manage and reward high value customers. Even public airline with legacy systems are investing in IT modernization. Last year, Air India announced its decision to move its applications to cloud and introduce the use of ipads at work.

How can IoT benefit airlines and aviation sector?
IoT is a web of sensors and devices [including a consumer’s smart phone] connected and communicating to each other in real time through Internet. While adoption of IoT is at a nascent stage in the aviation space, it offers multiple opportunities for the industry to improve operational efficiency and enhance customer loyalty by personalizing and differentiating the customer experience. For example sensors embedded in aircraft engines can notify maintenance and operations centers of performance issues while the plane is still in the air, and request that a replacement part be waiting when it lands. Such measures can reduce downtime and greatly improve performance, bring down costs while also bolstering passenger satisfaction through more frequent on-time arrivals and departures.

Other use cases include sensors on flight that can track temperature, light, air quality, and automatically adjust the same to ensure passenger comfort. On ground, RFID tags on baggage can help passengers track luggage when they land, using a mobile app. Smartphones can geo-locate passengers and guide them towards boarding gates or alert them if they are too far away or late to reach boarding. The possibilities are endless and airlines are beginning to invest heavily in IoT to reap the benefits.

Please highlight some of the mobility trends impacting passenger experience in the aviation industry.
Today, Mobiles are the first and the closest touchpoint between a service provider and the customer and it’s no different in the airline space. As a result the aviation sector is investing heavily in mobile technologies to provide a seamless experience to the passenger during pre-travel, in-flight and post-travel.  Almost every airline has a mobile app and passengers are increasingly using them to complete pre-flight formalities. Airlines on the other hand are tracking customer location and transaction history to give passengers customized offers and discounts.

Smart phones have almost become personal assistants. Intelligent apps track emails, location, and local traffic to give travelers a heads up on the estimated time it will take to reach the airport or the weather at the destination. Airlines are also looking at ancillary revenue generation by tying up with partners to send discount offers via their apps for eating joints, retail outlets, etc. As the availability of Wi-Fi on flights becomes a norm, mobile will become the screen for content consumption and by tying up with right partners airlines can ensure they offer personalized entertainment on mobiles to each passenger on-board after identifying their preferences.

What is Oracle’s role in the mobile makeover trend in the airlines sector and who are your clients?
We help some of the world’s leading Airlines simplify mobility with comprehensive mobile solutions available in the cloud. This includes dozens of pre-built mobile apps. In addition, we provide secure mobile access to Oracle cloud applications including human capital management, talent management, customer service & support and others, to empower users to connect, analyze, and work when and how they want, on the devices of their choosing. This portfolio of mobile apps continues to grow as Oracle and our partners continue to develop new apps.

Oracle Mobile Platform also supports a multi-channel, multi-device framework that allow airlines to build apps once and deploy them on iOS, Android and other platforms—with web, native and hybrid delivery. Integration is one of the leading challenges of mobile application development. Oracle Fusion Middleware and service oriented architecture (SOA) helps airlines integrate mobile with various legacy, back-end systems, including reservations, departure control, customer relationship management, and crew scheduling and operations to enrich passenger manifests with personal details, such as loyalty information and customer preferences; improve customer service; and gain competitive advantage.

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