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What is a Chief Transformation Officer?

Published on  13 July by Jappe Blaauw , Chief Transformation Officer, KLM & President, SITA Council
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What is a Chief Transformation Officer? I’m glad you asked.

For long-established companies like KLM, being agile enough to tackle rapidly evolving airline and IT market dynamics is a major challenge. KLM is 95 years old. We have a great history and an impressive track-record of innovation in areas such as check-in, digitized aircraft, social media, and more. But as the pace of change has increased – both in the air transport industry and in our daily lives – the need for a transformation office became clear.

When I was Chief Information Officer, I said that next to our people, IT is a crucial area where KLM can make a real difference in improving efficiencies and proximity to the customer. In my new role as Chief Transformation Officer, I’m focused on breaking down barriers and removing silos – between our people and IT systems. To do this, it’s vital that the transformation team be light and agile or we’ll run the risk of doing just the opposite: creating another silo instead of breaking down existing ones.

One of our top priorities is to examine the value-chain for customers and understand how to best optimize processes there. This highlights the need for us to work across the organization. We need staff to be constantly in touch and informed. And we need the same information to flow through the whole value-chain.

This requires better mobility, intelligence and analytics. And not just for front-line staff. We want to empower our ground engineers, for example, to take care of our aircraft in the hangar. We call it “keeping their hands on the metal.”

We’re also investing in collaborative tools so that we can capitalize on the knowledge we already have. This all goes back to silo busting – customers couldn’t care less about silos; they just want to fly and be served well along the way.

KLM has a long history of working collaboratively with external partners, giving us fresh insights and enabling us to ramp up teams quickly for new developments. We collaborate with other stakeholders as well, such as airports and air traffic control.

I see even more collaboration, internally and externally, in our future. Indeed, in my new role as Chief Transformation Officer, I will count on it.

To learn more about KLM’s transformation – and Jappe’s role as President of the SITA Council – don’t miss his interview “It’s about working together” in the latest issue of the Air Transport IT Review.

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