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Prashant Shirgur
Global Head – SAP Practice, Enterprise Application Services
26 April 2018

The airline industry has taken off in 2018 with the International Air Transport Association forecasting the number of passengers flying at 4.3 billion and air cargo at 62.5 million tons. Over the next couple of decades, airline passenger traffic is projected to double. However, rising fuel prices, over capacity, labor unrest, load factors, security issues, consolidations, and competition – specifically from low cost carriers, are impacting the smooth cruise of airlines. Consequently, airlines are taking a digital transformation journey to counter such challenges, meet mounting customer demands, while improving customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, and agility. Cloud adoption is leading this digital transformation pursuit by the airline industry. Here’s how:

Cloud ecosystem promises exponential value, scalability, accelerated launches, and enhanced security

Airlines can realize exponential value by leveraging the cloud ecosystem, where SaaS and best of breed apps seamlessly connect their front, middle, and back office operations using API with that of their vendors, partners, and customers. 
Total cost of ownership is significantly reduced as well. Cloud offers state-of-the-art technologies and tools on a pay per use model. This drives major cost reductions for the airlines. Also, by choosing a cloud based platform over an on-premise data center, airlines can avoid capex on IT infrastructure and associated maintenance costs. Not to mention the investment on skilled human resource required to operate an airline’s captive data center.

Scalability is a given with cloud technology. Computing power can be fine-tuned easily in the cloud to suit rapid acceleration (during holiday season) or ramp down needs of airline operations (during adverse weather). Find out more about TCS’ role as a trusted partner in Malaysian Airlines’ cloud transformation journey.

With cloud, airlines can leverage existing technologies or apps to offer new services to customers much ahead of their competitors. There are scenarios where application delivery times can be accelerated from days to hours.

Airlines hold massive and important technical and flight operations data, which is vulnerable to cyber hacks and other security breaches in a legacy system. In the cloud, there are multi-layered security defenses. The cloud service provider monitors for security breaches rigorously and frequently, and provides regular software patches. Automated threat detection is another plus. Airlines can therefore meet compliance requirements easily.

Flexible cloud improves reliability

With cloud technology offering greater flexibility at lower cost, even small and mid-sized airline companies can now afford to build redundancies in their IT infrastructure to avoid operational outages. Typically, airlines are required to swap their IT infrastructure every three to five years. Due to the high cost, airlines side step building redundancies and institute backup processes instead. Disaster Recovery as a Service option offered by cloud service providers can minimize system downtime for airlines and help them embrace risk. This translates to improved reliability and better customer satisfaction for airlines at a much lesser cost.

Cloud based customer data enables mass personalization

By having a single source of availability data on the cloud, airlines can replicate real-time availability in multiple cloud instances, across various continents, to cater to demand in those geographies. Airline customers can search this real-time inventory more efficiently, get faster responses, highly accurate results matching their personalized needs, and experience better satisfaction.

If airlines integrate their booking and reservation systems, along with every customer’s immigration and security clearance details in the cloud, they can eliminate long boarding queues at the gates through a self-boarding process, resulting in high customer satisfaction. Additionally, customer data being cloud based, airlines can glean insights about their customers’ preferences and offer hyper-personalized services for seating preferences, in-flight entertainment, and duty free shopping

Cloud technology enables airlines to leverage its ecosystem and gain exponential value by helping them embrace risk, adapt better, and deliver superior customer satisfaction. Airlines are flying high in the “clouds” as they take on their own digital transformation journey towards becoming future ready with Business 4.0.

About the author(s)
Prashant Shirgur
Global Head – SAP Practice, Enterprise Application Services

Prashant Shirgur is the Global Head of SAP Practice at TCS. He takes keen interest in enabling Business 4.0 journeys for enterprises and business ecosystems globally, using SAP technologies. He guides a global team of business consultants and technology experts to solve business problems and lead digital transformations across industry segments and lines of business. He engages extensively with leadership at SAP and CxOs towards shaping and enabling business transformation.