UPDATED 11:00 EST / MARCH 29 2019

dsc07428 BIG DATA

How 100-year-old airline iterates its way to DX

Historically, people accepted the hassles that came with searching, booking and boarding airplane flights. As airlines — along with pretty much all other contemporary companies — digitally transform, expectations are changing. Travelers want a smoother experience; apps that know their preferences; streamlined booking; and reduced security hoopla.

Many airlines are very large, older organizations with a lot of technical debt. Going digital requires two things: A well-defined goal and a willingness to try, fail and try again in order to reach it, according to Santiago Aldana (pictured), chief data officer and chief technology officer of Avianca S.A.

Avianca — the second-largest airline in Latin America — is 100 years old. Three years ago, it hired a new chief executive officer, the former president of Microsoft Corp. in Latin America. The goal, simply stated, was to transform Avianca into “a digital company flying airplanes,” Aldana said. You can do that through technology. But … the biggest challenge is probably not technology. It’s a cultural change.”

New data-centric technologies for customer experience tackle the tech part; agile, iterative practices can bring company culture up to date, he added. 

Aldana spoke with John Furrier (@furrier) and Jeff Frick (@JeffFrick), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the Adobe Summit in Las Vegas. They discussed the steps Avianca is taking to transform its customers’ experience before, during and after flights (see the full interview with transcript here). (* Disclosure below.)

Data-driven CX tech transforms customer journey

The airline is investing in data-centered decision making to reduce the effort it takes for customers to reach what they’re seeking. “We are able to personalize and know in advance what the customer is looking for to provide alternatives, and that makes it more seamless,” Aldana said.

Avianca has put a lot of effort into modernizing its application with tools like Adobe Inc.’s customer-experience software as a service. “The app is like a platform with which we’re transforming the customer journey. What we have to do at the end of the game is changing those touchpoints so that those require less effort from our customer,” Aldana stated.

It is also providing a lot more data and connectivity to employees so they can make better decisions and improve flyers’ experience.

Frequent iteration in the form of A/B testing, etc., has perfected projects that failed at first, according to Aldana. Avianca began providing more information to pilots through its apps. The pilots then realized some previously available info was lost, so the company had to tweak and iterate until all info showed up.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of Adobe Summit 2019. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for Adobe Summit 2019. Neither Accenture Interactive, the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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