Find the right formula

Finding the right formula is crucial to our airports’ digital transformation, says Aéroports de Paris’ Group CIO Gilles Lévêque.

Where did AdP’s transformation program start?

With our strategic vision. A successful transformation begins by aligning everything to this. For Aéroports de Paris (AdP), our aim is to be a leading group in airport design, construction and operations. This may sound easy to achieve, but it’s far from it.

Many factors play a part – from leveraging digital transformation, to implementing our vision, to being customer centric in everything we do, and finally, to encouraging open innovation and collaboration while obtaining executive buy-in.

So you see customer centricity in ‘everything’? 

Gilles LévêqueYes, and it’s not just related to passengers. We see our customers as being across the whole air travel ecosystem, from shareholders, to passengers, airlines and employees. So whatever we do, all areas of this ecosystem must have customer centricity as the focal point.

Consider a smart airport focusing on the passenger experience. The objective is all about fast travel, a digital journey and the movement of passengers from A to B in the most efficient manner, in a way which enhances the individual experience.

Integral to success in achieving this is the need to equip staff with mobile tools providing augmented information, ensuring they’re well-informed and able to respond to passengers’ needs in an efficient manner. Viewing the customer from a broader perspective is key.

How important is innovation to your success?

For Aéroports de Paris, we’re putting a lot of effort into innovation. This is focused on collaboration and generation of ideas for the air travel ecosystem, to help us build ‘digital native’ airports.

As we look to the next 10 or 20 years, we see technology and innovation as supporting us and enabling us. So much so that two and a half years ago we decided we needed a central point for innovation at corporate level to enable it to grow and accelerate the organization into new directions. 

For this reason, we created our ‘Innovation Hub’. It rises to the challenges of transformation and competitiveness with an open innovation approach.

Our Innovation Hub is based on three complementary drivers: open, connect and invest. Open’ is to ensure the culture of innovation is spread internally and with the ecosystem by means of conferences, immersion programs, challenges, and so on.

‘Connect’ is a program dedicated to young innovative businesses. It provides support, gives visibility and accelerates the implementation of experimental projects.

‘Invest’ is a dedicated internal investment-fund-style budget to support the financing needs of start-ups, in keeping with co-development. 

Where are your investments? 

Currently, we’re investing in three start-ups and areas that will provide us with a broader view of what’s going on in the industry. Our start-up investment process centers around not only selecting key technologies or partners, but also choosing those that we can move to deployment.

It’s no use investing for the sake of it. There has to be real value-making evidence. The team at our Innovation Hub can truly bring out this value from these start-ups.

It’s not just about getting it to work. It’s also about creating something that will transform what we do and bring about positive change for all.

What’s the role of data?  

Data is an incredibly important part of our transformation and remains key to all that we do.

Gilles Lévêque, Aéroports de Paris’ Group CIO

 

Data is an incredibly important part of our transformation and remains key to all that we do. It will continue to grow in importance as we progress.

At Aéroports de Paris, the new technologies we’re implementing are backed by a data-orientated architecture. That could be mobile apps informing passengers of airport services, travel information and airport retail information; or loyalty programs to obtain information on passengers, enabling us to create a seamless experience for them.

It also extends to employees and using data to arm them with information to ensure the smooth running of operations.

This can range from having the ability to determine the state of a runway based on a plane’s slowdown rate, to implementing machine learning into objects around the airport to transmit information on their state of being and whether any action needs to be taken.

It’s clear that data is more important now than it has ever been before. 

So this is truly a ‘digital transformation’? 

There are three core considerations with digital transformation: the role of technology, looking at your customers across the whole air travel ecosystem, and the speed of technological change. We cannot afford to be ‘comfortable’.

Gilles Lévêque, Aéroports de Paris’ Group CIO

 

Yes. There are three core considerations with digital transformation. First, there’s the role of technology. Digital transformation is not only about technology. It’s also about choice and focus, and implementing something with true value – both for the business and for those who will encounter it on a daily basis.

Second, you must see the customer as key. But remember the customer is the whole air travel ecosystem. You can’t digitally transform by focusing on one area of your business. You must view it from the perspective of those who are your paying customers, to employees and shareholders.

This means anyone who has a vested interest, at a given time, with your business. Yes, this makes things more difficult, but once achieved it will be incredibly successful and sustainable.

Third, technological change will continue to accelerate. We can’t get too comfortable because we know that every day something new will come.

We know it's no longer the large who will beat the small. It's the fast who will beat the slow. So we need to be fast, but we must also find a balance between being fast and sticking to the directions we’ve set and embark all the organization in the transformation journey. Finding the right formula is crucial rather than trying to do it all and hoping for the best.

'Digitization'... in a nutshell

So what do we mean by digital transformation, or ‘digitization’, in aviation? In short, it refers to using digital technologies to improve service, operations and efficiency.

Air transport organizations are establishing digital platforms on which to build their operations, develop the passenger experience and determine the journeys of the future. Digitization will have profound effects on the air transport industry over the next 20 years.

Digitization goes ‘hand-in-hand’ with data

Digitization goes hand in hand with data. Data has the potential to add ever more value at every touchpoint and at every interchange between the airlines and their passengers, as well as airports, ground handlers, border agencies and other stakeholders who make the journey happen.

Industry processes are being optimized, if not transformed, by the impact of data-related technologies.

SITA, digitization and data

SITA is deeply involved in digitizing the air transport industry’s ecosystem, working with airline and airport customers, as well as governments, ground handlers and others to evolve their digital infrastructures and programs.

At the same time, it is SITA’s responsibility to ensure the air transport community benefits by encouraging and enabling data sharing.

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