Connected Aircraft / Disconnected Airlines Part II: The Strategic Imperative of eEnabled Aircraft
On the heels of “Connected Aircraft / Disconnected Airlines, Part I” comes an additional look at eEnablement’s cross-cutting impact on an airline’s operational and passenger engagement missions. Elevating eEnabled aircraft from a mere technology investment to an enterprise-wide strategic imperative will be critical if airlines and suppliers alike are to succeed in an increasingly connected environment.
As discussed in the May 2015 Closed Loop/Avascent white paper, the advent of eEnablement (eE) is poised to revolutionize the aviation ecosystem by using “data creation, subscription, analysis, consolidation, and value-added capabilities” to help airlines more effectively achieve inherent operational and customer engagement missions.
Furthermore, eE will ensure an airline’s ability to integrate into the broader airline environment, where sharing data is vital to future success. In light of eE’s tremendous impact, it will be critical for airlines and industry to elevate eE as a strategic imperative and devote proper resources and attention to its successful design and implementation.
This is not unlike other critically important investments that have a dual impact on both an airline’s operations and customer engagement strategies, such as the aircraft themselves and cabin interiors.
Many assets and services that are inherently tied only to one mission or the other – not both – remain routine decisions that can be made effectively within the multitude of individual business units. A handful of other investments, however, have cross-cutting impact on both an airline’s operations as well as the customer’s travel experience, and therefore require greater attention by senior leadership given their far-reaching strategic importance.
Airlines and industry alike continue to treat eE as an aircraft-centric technology acquisition, ultimately leading to numerous project difficulties and failures that have been costly for airlines and suppliers alike. In reality, eE is an enterprise-wide strategic investment, because the benefits of eE heavily underpin both operational and customer engagement goals of the airline.
eEnabled Aircraft’s Impact on Operations & Customer Engagement
Integrating the plethora of aviation data ‘touch points’ (such as maintenance teams, flight ops, and airport crews) can provide real-time, actionable intelligence that drives enhanced situational awareness and improves decision-making, which ultimately supports operational efficiency and customer engagement goals. In an eEnabled aircraft environment, touch points that were once stagnant and stovepiped instead become data-driven and dynamic.
Such far-reaching benefits therefore require airlines to elevate eE decision-making processes such that executives develop enterprise-wide eE requirements. Suppliers meanwhile must think beyond just installing boxes on aircraft, and instead look to understand what technical solutions can best meet these cross-cutting airline needs.
For airlines and suppliers’ to remain competitive in a world increasingly defined by constant connectivity, eE must be given a chance to succeed by recognizing its far-reaching impact on airlines’ operational and passenger engagement missions. Just as the aircraft itself and cabin interiors demand significant attention given their tremendous impact on an airline’s success, eE now obligates both airline and suppliers to reconsider how they are allocating both internal resources and external support teams to this transformative investment area.
For airlines, near-term goals begin with developing thorough, enterprise-wide eE requirements that drive clear business outcomes. Similarly, suppliers must assess how their technology solutions can help airlines achieve key eE goals; this begins with a careful evaluation of the airline community’s diverse eE needs and acquiring an understanding of how legacy and upstart competitors alike are jockeying for airlines’ attention.
As outlined here and by other thought leaders in the aviation community, the path to an eEnabled aircraft clearly goes well beyond just installing boxes and antennas to the aircraft alone. In reality, it requires a substantial investment of time and resources to understand how new data streams across the enterprise can support essential airline missions. While this can be a daunting and largely uncharted new area to explore, bringing a measured and dedicated approach can allow the industry to break new ground and usher in the next era of aviation transformation.