Getting to the bottom of big data buzzword will help airlines fly higher

‘Big Data’ was a buzzword of choice at the CAPA Asia Aviation Summit in Singapore recently.

A panel, moderated by Stephen Pearse (managing director of CAPA – Centre for Aviation), explored what embracing big data could mean for the aviation industry going forward and anticipated what barriers could stop a new data analytics practice from taking off.

Often a vague term that loosely refers to the endless spools of information that currently sits under-utilised, ‘big data’ represents the infinite insights that airlines (or any company, for that matter) are keen on harnessing to revolutionise and evolve how they conduct their business.

Andrew Cowen (CEO, HK Express) shared that he believed there are two primary benefits arising out of understanding how to harness big data to an airline’s advantage.

Firstly, it would vastly improve basic business efficiency, moving away from legacy systems that still require manual input into spreadsheets.

The second benefit is how it would enable airlines to shape and engage with consumer identities much more holistically. However, he was careful to point out that while big data could reveal unique consumer preferences, it’s a fine line to invading privacy.

Drawing on Cowen’s point that vast pools of data within the airline industry are poorly managed, John Chapman (head of sales & business development, Sabre Airline Solutions APAC) made the case that this is partly because data exists in different silos and are not collated effectively within any company.

“We need to bring it all together and in a single environment, keep it up to date and in real time so that it can be used immediately with individual customers as well as when there is a disruption of services.”

It echoed much of what Cowen had said prior, in that improving operational efficiency was necessary to ensure the data is used optimally.

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