B2 Everything and Everybody | SITA

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B2 Everything and Everybody

Published on  29 March by Catherine Mayer , Vice President, SITA
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Another year, another Passenger Terminal Expo! The largest airport conference and exhibition, Passenger Terminal Expo (PTE), just concluded in Stockholm, and with over 7000 participants it is easy to understand why this event offers one of the best opportunities to meet with colleagues from around the world, and hear about the latest trends and projects. It is an exhausting yet exhilarating three days.
Technology was front and center this year with almost every one of the 300 vendors offering a product or service including IT, and every conference session speaking about (leveraging) digital data. Co-chairing the Digital Transformation(DT) track on Day 2 was one of the highlights for me because it provided confirmation that this evolution is no longer just hype; it is real and is impacting every stakeholder in our industry. DT is not about digital technology but rather embracing transformation in this digital world that we live in; a message that was conveyed by almost every speaker. We heard great examples of airports and airlines working together to leverage digital and new technologies, all to improve services, business, and operations.
In the 2017 Airport IT Trends Survey cosponsored by Airports Council International (ACI) and SITA, 70% of the world’s airports said they had either completed or were in the process of completing their own digital strategy and implementing the programs. The survey also revealed that in 2017 airports were allocating just under 16% of their IT budgets to transform the business, further confirmation of our digital journey. This was confirmed during the Airport CIO Panel, Digital Transformation – One Year later, where panelists discussed specific activities being undertaken at airports, the success stories as well as lessons learned. What stood out during these discussions was that for each of the “external” (i.e. passenger, baggage, operations) initiatives, there were just as many “internal” (i.e. cross division sharing of information, business intelligence and analytics of airport wide data) ones, acknowledging the importance of a holistic approach to DT and transforming organizations to embrace a risk taking and experimentation, governance with incentives, agile, fail fast - keep moving forward type of culture. Some key messages that stood out for me were:  airports are no longer just B2B or B2C and need to also be  P2P and P2D (People to People and People to Data)- Michael Zaddach, Senior Vice President IT Munich Airport; data is king so harness, leverage and apply it-Maurice. Jenkins, Director, Information Systems, Miami International Airport); applying BI and AI to data enables real time and strategic decisions within the whole airport ecosystem - Ricardo Cerri Chief,Technology Officer Corporación América Uruguay ;  smart data hubs will become an airport’s greatest asset within five years - Sjoerd Blum, CIO Schiphol Group.

Two other messages that were repeated through many presentations were 1) the need for our industry to embrace Open APIs following industry recommended practices (i.e. ACI ACRIS) as this will ensure real-time information is shared with partners to provide accurate, consistent information to all users; and 2) embracing, promoting innovation throughout the workforce because as Elon Musk (and many speakers said) the best way to avoid failure is to innovate.

Our industry is embracing this digital world and my take away from the event is that airports will soon be B2 Everything and Everybody!  It is an exciting time and makes me wonder where we will be in another year's time. I guess we will all have to go to PTE 2019 in London to find out!

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