Don’t hold back! Conduct a trial, build a business case | SITA

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Don’t hold back! Conduct a trial, build a business case

Published on  29 June by Sherry Stein , Senior Manager of Projects & Innovation, SITA Lab
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We operate in a risk-averse industry with high regulatory constraints and limited budget for innovation. There’s so much seeming uncertainty, and there are so many changing regulations and innumerable options. How does an airline, airport or government agency choose a direction or get started?

Take biometrics and identity management. They’re areas of great potential – short and long term. Though often there may appear to be reasons for being cautious and holding back in these areas, my advice is simple: ‘Please don’t do that!’.

The important thing is to start with a trial, or a scientific approach, and then you’ll stand a very good chance of finding the right solution. At the same time, you’ll advance your business as well as the cause of our industry and the seamless passenger journey.

An ideal opportunity

An ideal opportunity exists to explore and trial new self-service biometrics and identity management solutions. As the industry copes with ever more passenger numbers, airports and airlines must focus sharply on ways to streamline the passenger experience.

Four pointers to help make sure of progress with innovations

  • Be sure to have clear key performance indicators (executive top five will do) and approach the project as a scientific hypothesis – define expected results and objectives, what to measure, how to measure – and commit to actively monitor, measure and report progress. This period should be used to define the criteria for developing a business case and support decision-making for future investment.
  • Pick a simple use case, one that is low risk and relatively innovation-strategystraightforward. This is often called the “happy path”, the basic, straight-line flow with no edge cases, exceptions or “extreme” error handling. Edge cases and exceptions can be introduced over time as separate project phases.
  • Run a small experiment during a well-defined, time-boxed period (45 days, 90 days, 6 months, 2 years). Whatever the period that you determine to be right for your environment requires active implementation, support for data collection, monitoring and diagnostics. During this time, the team will collect metrics and information to drive the learning and help solidify the investment business case. Due diligence is critical during this period.
  • Practice adaptive learning. Monitor systems and behavior, conduct objective diagnostic analysis, assess performance, then adapt your approach as you test and acquire new knowledge. Pivot if you identify a new opportunity that you had not initially considered.

The way forward for the seamless journey

For our part, at SITA we have worked with several airlines, airports and border agencies to trial and implement biometrics approaches, using SITA Smart Path™. That includes vital work at the border for JetBlue, BA and Air New Zealand as well as Boston, Brisbane and Orlando airports.

Much of it has grabbed international headlines, like JetBlue’s and the US Customs and Border Protection agency’s testing of SITA’s biometric scanning technology. In a world-first, this pointed the way forward for air travel, providing a paperless and device-less self-boarding process, based on just one quick photo.

Think differently: the power of vision and collaboration

The JetBlue biometric boarding project created tremendous interest in the use of biometrics, and not just across the air transport industry’s global market. The project shows the true potential that can be realized when you dare to think differently, chose a direction and try something new.

And it demonstrates the true power of partnership and collaboration across all stakeholders in moving the industry forwards and bringing the seamless journey ever closer. Of course, that includes a close partnership with SITA in advancing these solutions.

So my advice in a nutshell? Start trialing. Be bold and stop the trial if performance expectations are not met or negatively impact operations, staff or experience. But never let it stop there. Be ready to choose your next direction and keep on exploring.

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