Utilising Internet-of-Things within a smart airport environment

Pablo Olivera Brizzio, regional business development director of Smart Airports and IoT at Orange Business Services, explains why it is IoT is imperative for a modern digital business excellence model
Pablo Olivera Brizzio, regional business development director of Smart Airports and IoT at Orange Business Services.
Pablo Olivera Brizzio, regional business development director of Smart Airports and IoT at Orange Business Services.

Why IoT Matters
The term IoT (Internet-of-Things) has been around since 1999, while the technology has been rapidly evolving and maturing over the years. For those not too familiar with the concept, the basic idea to understand is that all the objects that surround us in our daily life (walls, car, waste bins, pacemaker, etc.), will become “alive” and turn smart by embedding all types of sophisticated low power sensors that report back to a ubiquitous network, which collects and processes all the data to make intelligent decisions.

Major research companies predict that by the year 2020 there’ll be between 20 to 30 billion connected devices, monitoring our environments and even looking after our health.

It’s already a  well-known fact that the real value is not embedded in the IoT devices themselves, but on the big data analytics insights that are extracted which empowers organisations to positively transform business processes performance; ultimately contributing to the bottom line.

Still, there seems to be a limited understanding, across industries, of the real reach and implications of this technology, along with its direct impact on business performance. 

A valid question could then be why the pace of adoption is not faster in the ATI domain?

One could argue that there are several complex factors simultaneously involved in the equation, including a highly regulated industry (for very good reasons), independent federal entities establishing their own criteria and KPIs which often diverge from those of the ATI.

Then there’s the CFO’s ability to deeply understand the true value of disruptive innovation beyond the standard fiscal cycles and create strong alignment with forward-thinking change leaders inside their organisations, amongst several other key points.

For these reasons and as a partial parallelism to smart airports, smart cities have proven to work very well only in those jurisdictions and countries where government authorities are directly involved and interested in the success of the program, acting as a catalyst and enabler, establishing clear guidelines and standards across the different architecture layers of the infrastructure.

Along these lines, in advanced economies, the stronger the alliances and alignment with local authorities, the greater the chances of implementing successful and scalable IoT programs.

Though there can be healthy debates on the technical aspects and different approaches to the subject, the essence of the matter is not technology related anymore; it’s about the different stakeholders having an open discussion of the type of experience that they want to deliver to their customers, keeping in mind the safety, security and business benefits it brings along for all the parties involved.

Customer Centric
Across geographies, cultures and corporations, there is no defined consensus on the business excellence framework to apply, while some prefer Baldridge others opt for the European Foundation for Quality Management or even the Australian Excellence Framework, amongst others.

However, they all agree on a fundamental principle; to place customer management focus as a key pillar of the model. It would then be allowed to infer that technologies which aid in providing a seamless and pleasant customer journey should be at the forefront of the agenda for any organisation that wants to implement any of these frameworks.

In today’s digitally connected world, where the physical and the virtual interweave into a fuzzy invisible fabric, IoT seems to be a perfect ally to take the customer experience to the next level.   

IoT sensor data insights to improve the customer experience
IoT and AI systems anticipating a person’s needs has always been the domain of science fiction movies, but there is enough understanding of the core technologies today (IoT, data analytics, blockchain, AI, VR, AR, etc.) to make this a reality with very tangible use cases and benefits.

The key idea is to foresee operational requirements at the airport to support passenger needs; for basic exemplification purposes, an ATI IoT platform could be compared to a personal assistant with omnipresence capabilities and clairvoyance powers, advising on the best possible options at each step of the user journey, based on real-time data.

Connecting the “bots”
Here, the words of the American novelist, James A. Baldwin, seem like a perfect match when he said: “those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.”

Early visionary leaders from airports and airlines around the globe have already started to realise that a comprehensive digital business excellence program cannot be fully achieved without meeting all the needs of today’s passengers and customers.

A smart airport ecosystem, designed to provide a superior and personalised experience, at the right stage of the user’s journey, is today possible and well underway in major airports and airlines.

Some of the several tangible benefits of using IoT are:
• Real-time visibility and control of all key terminal processes and assets.
• Reduce terminal running costs by improving operational efficiency and reducing safety risks.
• Reduce or eliminate passenger queues by proactively reassigning proper customer-facing resources.
• Increase retail conversion rate
by having personalised marketing campaigns.
• Amongst many others.

Finally, with all the IoT technology elements available to delight customers, increase safety and security, in addition to reducing operational costs, It’s now up to the ATI leaders of today to define the path to the airports and airlines of tomorrow.

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