Data is the new gold, according to Mario Hardy, CEO, Pacific Asia Travel Association. Speaking at IATA’s 74th AGM and World Air Transport Summit, Hardy noted that every day, some 2.5 quintillion bytes of information are produced.
The global data economy is valued at $3 trillion and will doubtless soar given that 75.4 billion devices are predicted to be connected to the Internet of Things – the network of physical devices embedded with electronics and software, allowing them to connect to one another and exchange information and data – by 2025.
Getting data is not airlines’ problem; a single flight is a significant contributor to a mass of daily data. But using data effectively is an issue, experts agree. The problem for many carriers, especially legacy airlines that have grown organically, is systems not 'speaking' to each other and a lack of data analysis.
Airlines need to harness the power of data to provide customers with the personalized product they crave
Airlines must harness the power of data to provide customers with the personalized product they crave, and partnership will be vital to success in this regard, said Hardy. Collaborating across the value chain provides access to different data sets and a different perspective. The insights this generates can be the difference between success and failure.
Hardy urged caution, however. Privacy laws must be obeyed. The General Data Protection Regulation, which has come into effect in Europe recently, provides a stringent baseline on data privacy. It affects companies doing business with European citizens and businesses, regardless of global location, and airlines should be cognizant of their responsibilities.
Cybercrime – estimated to cost close to $2 trillion annually by 2019 – is another concern.
But harnessing data correctly will give airlines the power to correctly answer critical questions about passenger requirements. As Hardy put it: “What airline doesn’t want a higher rate of conversion from look to book on their website?”