With their billions of annual captive customers, one would think that airports, and by logical extension, airlines, were prime candidates for the implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) technology to improve passenger experience, yet, there’s not been much progress there.
Yes, airlines and airports have started “experimenting” with IoT, but unlike say the health or medicine sector, progress has been comparatively slow. Areas where IoT can prove to be a great asset are baggage handling, equipment including avionics monitoring and passenger communication; in fact, the entire passenger experience from door to aircraft to door.
According to a 2015 Airline IT Trends Survey produced by SITA in association with Airline Business, only about 37% of global airlines had allotted some kind of budget for IoT implementation, while 58% were planning to invest resources in the IoT with “emphasis on pilot projects”, and about 16% were preparing for major deployment.
Where the airlines and IoT are concerned, the former needs to understand that deploying IoT based tech such as beacons, smart luggage trackers and fuel monitors will help cut down on time as well as financial mismanagement. A buck saved is a buck earned, after all.
On the passenger facing side, there’s enormous scope for IoT tech implementation. I’ve already mentioned baggage and passenger handling, but matters such as fuel efficiency, even the tracking of pets in transit, are areas where this tech will yield positive results.
Questions that IoT can address
Typically, as all of us who have flown know, an air traveller’s journey is in 4 parts:
The versatility of IoT tech is such that it can address problems in all four areas.
One other reason for the IoT adoption time lag in the airline industry is the complex integration issues, given that the aviation industry’s other “business”, outside of ferrying passengers, is handling cutting edge technology. So CIOs or CTOs should be able to figure out how to assimilate IoT based tech in existing IT infrastructure.
To be fair, a majority of the airlines have acknowledged that IoT will generate benefits for them in the coming years. The technology retains the potential to alleviate passenger pain points, including luggage handling and inter-flight connections.
With international air traffic set to grow by about 7% annually in the short term, here’s what the aviation industry should be doing - using IoT, to rapidly improve passenger experience, both on the ground and in flight:
Perhaps, what stops airlines from “going the whole hog”, is the lack of finance, coupled with the “fear of grappling with new technology”, and then, the security aspect. Such lack of zeal on part of the airlines is understandable to an extent, but airports surely are no strangers to technology.