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Mobile innovation: fact or fiction?

Published on  08 August by Thomas Knierim , Senior Manager, Market Insight, SITA
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Did you read the article on Tnooz, "Admit it - true innovation in travel is a bit of myth"?

The article suggests that true innovation is when something new completely replaces old ways of doing things, such as online ticket sales replacing brick-and-mortar travel agents. According to the article, recent trends like mobile, cloud and big data are not true innovations because they only refine existing processes instead of replacing them altogether.

Looking at the results of this year's Airline IT Trends Survey 2013 , I can't say I agree with this view!

Yes, mobile sales are an extension of the airline's website, but they are also potential game-changers in many other areas. Mobile is aiding the entire passenger journey from check-in and boarding to providing onboard services and destination help, and much more. The results from our survey support this: almost all airlines are investing in mobile technology to provide different types of services, not just ticket sales.

Also, it's a bit of an unfair comparison. Online shopping started in 1994, today - 19 years later - online ticket sales from airline websites account for a very robust 32% of total sales. The smart phone is only around since 2007, and already 3% of tickets are sold via mobiles today. Let's give it another 13 years and have a look again.

So, does mobile replace old ways of doing things with a completely new way? I think it does and will. It will enable airlines to provide more than a ticket. Airlines can expand the range of services they offer and provide them at a time when the passenger really needs them.

Ultimately, mobile is about offering services relevant to an individual and knowing when it is needed ... and that's the innovation that will change things. It is true: airlines are not (yet) as good as Amazon when it comes to using the customer data to provide more relevant offers to their customers. However, with 100% of airlines investing in Business Intelligence solutions, the time for (more) innovation is not far away. But that's a topic for another day.

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