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What does your digital transformation look like?

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What does your digital transformation look like?

Published on  09 June by Arthur Calderwood , Senior Vice President, Marketing & Sales Operations
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Notes from the 2017 Air Transport IT Summit

At this year’s SITA Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels, we showcased and discussed the new technologies that are helping, and will help, airlines and airports embrace digital operations to better manage their business and become more agile. These are technologies that help address new challenges, improve the passenger experience and streamline operations.

We showed how we’re improving existing solutions and exploring the potential of emerging technologies; one of our key roles is to examine air transport use cases for cutting-edge tech. Wearable tech has been a theme for several years, for example, and this year was no different. More on that later.

For the first time this year, the IT Summit included a focus on disruptive technologies from young start-ups. Several companies gave short pitches about the work they’re doing and the impact it could have on the air transport industry. There was so much potential in the room, from applications using blockchain to location- and context-aware mapping technology.

One of the key technology themes at this year’s IT Summit was autonomous vehicles, otherwise known as robotics. We demonstrated KATE, the new self-driving check-in kiosk that can go to where it’s needed in the terminal and even call in other kiosks if a particular area is unexpectedly busy. KATEs could attend the morning rush on one side of the terminal before rolling over to take on the afternoon rush on the other side, for instance.

We see robotics, together with artificial intelligence and Internet of Things, taking care of repetitive or labor-intensive tasks freeing up people to provide services that require a personal or face-to-face interaction.   

Autonomous vehicles could also have a major impact on airside operations. When you consider how many vehicles are involved in aircraft turnaround, the potential benefits of autonomous vehicles become very clear. Armed with data and insights from the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles could automatically provide airside services, both improving accuracy and reducing costs.

We also explored the mixed reality future of airport command and control with a live demo of an innovative SITA Lab concept. It uses Microsoft HoloLens to visualize the airport’s operation in 3D holograms and enables users to engage with that digital content wherever they are in the airport, or even in the world. And it encapsulates collaboration, so it perfectly replicates actually being in the command center without having to be there. It’s breathtaking.

For all the excitement and impressive displays, one overarching message emerged from the two-day celebration of air transport technology: technology is only the tool for digital transformation. At its core, it’s about having a vision for where you want to take your operations, your business model, your passenger experience and then looking at the toolbox of technologies available and exploring how they can help you realize that vision.

For further information, see "Jim Peters- Summit Highlights - Making Technology Work for You" video on the SITA YouTube channel.  

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