Aviation must embrace digital technology and practices

Airlines and airports are expected to spend $33 billion on IT this year, according to SITA.

Despite the enormous spend, however, the industry must do more to modernize its tools and practices in digital technology.

Eric Leopold, IATA’s Director, Transformation (pictured), noted in his keynote presentation on Tuesday (October 24) that there are three phases in industry change.

From 2018, Leopold says, there must be true industry transformation

Up to 2010, the focus was on automating complexity, such as e-ticketing.

Now, aviation is embarked on digital transformation, with projects like New Distribution Capability (NDC). This is ongoing but from 2018, Leopold says, there must be true industry transformation.

“How do we ‘hyperloop’ or ‘Uberize’ aviation?” he asked.

The question framed a panel discussion, hosted by BBC News Anchor & Presenter, Aaron Heslehurst.  It was agreed that the industry must be broader in scope when exploring innovative ideas.

There are many more ideas outside the industry than there are within it. And connecting with those ideas and adapting them to the aviation value chain may bring surprising results.

It is not only outside influences that will drive the industry toward speedier transformation

Aidan Brogan, CEO of Datalex, felt the consumer would be the true disruptor, bringing to aviation expectations formed by their interactions with companies in other spheres, such as Amazon and Google.

But it is not only outside influences that will drive the industry toward substantial and speedier transformation.

Ultimately, it was suggested, there is the oldest incentive in the book: aviation has everything it needs to be more innovative because everybody in the industry value chain needs to make more money.

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