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On the hunt for the next big thing

Published on  19 August by Eash Sundaram , Executive Vice President & CIO, JetBlue Airways
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At JetBlue, we have a reputation for innovation and new ways of working. It's something we're proud of. We are proactive in the way we approach innovation - in fact, we're always on the hunt for the next big thing.

Of course, like many airlines, our IT strategy focuses on investments in areas like JetBlue.com or our mobile capabilities, but a big chunk of our focus is on what's coming up five years from now.

One thing we're doing right now is eliminating today's check-in concept - which is really a concept from the 1960s. We assume that, having paid for a ticket, our customers will fly with us. Our policy says if they don't show up, then their ticket goes. Of course, if they want to make changes prior to their flight they can. And, prior to flights, why don't we use intelligence to allocate a passenger a seat and remove the actual check-in steps from the equation?

We're asking the same question in other processes, as well. Do we need this transaction or this step in the process? We can look at things like a permanent boarding pass or a permanent bag tag. We're working on these kinds of things to improve the ground experience.

Technology trends like mobility, social media, intelligence, analytics and so on all come into play. But at the end of the day, it's about making the process as lean as possible. Technology is a huge enabler and you can drive automation, but you have to eliminate or change processes to make them lean. Then you can automate.

Another big change that's going to happen is personalization in-flight. We're looking at profiling people's moods on a real-time basis using social media. So, for example, we could understand from customers' social media profiles whether they're happy, or maybe going to a wedding, or a graduation. Think of a plane full of people with certain categories of profile: we can deliver content that's specific to them, right to their seats.

Learn more in my interview in the latest issue of the Air Transport IT Review.

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