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IT Last modified on November 4, 2019

Go with the flow

John Thompson, Greater Toronto Airports Authority’s associate director for IT, explains how Toronto Pearson is using new technology to streamline the flow of passengers and staff through its facilities.

It takes a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes to keep airport operations running smoothly, and Toronto Pearson International Airport is no exception.

In an increasingly digital, connected world, passenger expectations are at an all-time high, while global passenger traffic steadily rises. There are also more travel options than ever, which expands the competitive landscape.

Our goal at Toronto Pearson is to be the world’s best airport. We’ve already been recognised as the ‘Best Large Airport in North America’, but we still have more room for improvement. And part of this process has involved transforming our IT operations.

After all, IT plays a key role in the experience of the nearly 50 million travellers who pass through Toronto Pearson each year. It’s involved in daily operations that include de-icing planes, handling baggage systems, check-in kiosks, on-boarding employees and much more.

Though the airport employs 49,000 people, only 1,600 of them are focused on management, operational and technology jobs. That’s a relatively small number of people to manage all the IT-related needs. Such a lean staff means that unless we pursued a significant systems upgrade, there was little hope of meeting our goal of continuous improvement.

For instance, IT is responsible for ticketing kiosks, used by passengers for faster check-ins. Kiosks eventually run out of paper or malfunction. It was taking an average of an hour and 12 minutes to open and resolve tickets when kiosks needed servicing.

As a world-class airport, Pearson needed an IT service management (ITSM) solution that could help them better serve their millions of customers and maintain operations in a timely, cost-effective manner. A solution that used predictive analytics would be particularly helpful.

We had learned from past experience that it wasn’t worth our time to build our own solutions. So, we looked into offerings in the IT service management (ITSM) market, and found SummitAI, a cloud-based system for internal IT support tickets.

In evaluating the various solutions, SummitAI offered many key features and capabilities that would enable us to better predict issues and address operational bottlenecks.

Automation capabilities enable tickets to be automatically generated and routed to work groups for faster resolution. The solution’s AI-driven operational intelligence recommends corrective actions to incidents and problems in real time, driving higher First Call Resolutions (FCR) of issues.

With 24/7 service desk experience, Pearson is delivering significantly better passenger experiences and has streamlined many of the repetitive and manual day-to-day tasks that have previously slowed down operations staff. Now, ticket resolution time is dramatically lower, and passengers are happier.

Within the first three months of using the solution, the airport has seen substantial improvements in several key success factors. First Call Resolution (FCR) has reached as high as 81%. Mean time to repair (MTTR) has been reduced from 2.4 hours to 1.39 hours and the airport’s customer satisfaction score (CSAT) ranked at 96.5%.

The support of our AI-based ITSM solution helped Toronto Pearson achieve recognition as the Best Large Airport in North America for the second year in a row. We look forward to ongoing improvements as we implement additional applications of AI.

By taking a slow and steady approach, undergoing an IT transformation doesn’t have to be arduous. Whether a small regional aircraft fleet or international airport, continuous IT improvement is a valuable move, bringing new levels of efficiency to the many activities that go into operations and maintaining customer satisfaction.

As technology innovation continues to accelerate, airports and the entire transportation industry are poised for growth.

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