How we’re embracing the need for speed in the airline digital game

John Lonergan

Director, Airlines Digital, Amadeus

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One of the first things I set out to do at Amadeus was to organize an internal ‘Airline Digital Tribe’. This tribe, which includes people from different parts of the business aligned by a common purpose, is focused on delivering solutions to our airline customers at breakneck speed.

This was the golden thread of my message at the Amadeus Airline Digital Forum, where we welcomed more than 75 delegates from around the world. I was pleased to discuss the three pillars of our digital strategy to embrace speed, which include open solutions, new ways of working, and an expanded portfolio of digital services. 

Speed to market all starts with implementing an ‘enterprise agile’ way of working. Our developers are already using agile as a principle design philosophy – but we’ve also embraced this at an enterprise level. An enterprise agile mindset enables our people to bring solutions to our customers faster and better aligned to their needs.

Four things we’re doing to ensure Airline Digital Tribe success:

We are opening our systems

We’re building an ecosystem of partners and opening up to third parties, including software solutions that airlines have already invested in. Adobe is a very concrete example of this integration.

We are introducing new ways of working

An agile mindset is at our core. We also have regular hackathons where we can listen to our customers at very early stage of the development cycle and where airlines can test our solutions before they implement them. The key focus for us is to deliver value fast and the new ways of working are already bringing success.

Expanding our portfolio of services with partners

The Accenture-Amadeus Alliance plays a major role in helping airlines innovate by iterating from a problem to a solution in a structured, and timely manner. This was highlighted by Luxair, who benefited from this new approach with an idea it wanted to validate, and where the Alliance innovation center contributed.

As Frederic Barry, Head of Digital Products, from Luxair points out: “Execution is key in digital product management where users have high expectations. Great ideas with a solid business case are not enough anymore, this approach helps companies to invest in software development only when the desirability of a solution is validated by representative users, and allow them to kill early a project. Doing this the other way around is risky and expensive. Can you imagine shipping a product in production that is not used, and having to refactor it 3, 5 or 8 times before it gets adopted? In addition, we really thank the Amadeus and Accenture teams for the work achieved in such a short time!”

This partnership highlights that our combined capabilities cover all relevant areas for airlines, from strategy to operation. And our partnerships do not stop there. We also invited other key players in UX design & retargeting to showcase our openness.

The need for speed in the airline industry

Digital enables the experiences that airlines deliver to their customers through glass screens and consumer devices. In this respect, there is only one thing to focus on: the speed at which we deliver value to our airline customers to create these experiences and services. Why speed to value? The faster we can deliver something of value to our airline customers, the faster they can test it, customize to their needs, and inject some innovation around those deliveries, ensuring that they deliver a superior experience to their customers.

Following best practices and taking advantage of trends

Mobile and chatbots are at top of mind here. We shared insights about the focuses of airline mobile apps per region, in terms of content, marketing capabilities, languages, and user experience. Regarding chatbots, by carrying out a thorough benchmark we’ve seen them becoming conversion enablers and crisis managers for airlines. The payments sector is another example of taking advantage of these trends to transform a weakness into an opportunity. American Airlines exemplified this with great results from adapting forms of payment in a market.

So is this combination of open solutions, new ways of working, and expanded portfolio of digital services working? Yes, I would say so. We ran a hackathon recently for airline developers in Nice using our open Digital Experience Suite. Teams from seven airlines produced working prototypes within two days. One of these teams impressed their airline CEO so much on their arrival home, that they commissioned us to help them to take their prototype into full production. Within three months, their new innovative booking flow was live, from concept to reality. Our next hackathon took place at the end of February in Singapore.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to delivering value for our airline customers and I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future. Stay tuned to this blog for more about what we’re doing in this exciting space.


Airline IT