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NEWS Last modified on December 13, 2018

IT Integration key to digital transformation of airports

The integration of an airport’s operational planning and IT solutions is key to its successful digital transformation, writes Taner Chakar, product manager at Quintiq.

The coming years will be a completely different game for airport operators.

Automated processes and driverless vehicles will eventually handle baggage handling, refuelling, security and check-in processes, which will be necessary to manage the sheer volume of things and people efficiently.

As airport operators think about the airport of the future and act to align their systems to achieving that goal, they are experiencing difficulty in moving from legacy systems to automated processes and, eventually, integrating A-CDM completely.

The biggest legacy issue, by far, is operating airports in silos – something future airports can simply ill afford.
Airports and the airlines that operate within them have an extremely wide laundry list of tasks – each as urgent as the next – that are required to be done more efficiently with less resources. 

According to Frost & Sullivan, these challenges, combined with global capacity constraints, will drive up airport IT spending over the next five years.

For an organisation as complex as an airport, the crucial element of successful airport digital transformation is the integration of the airport’s operational planning and IT solutions.

While emerging technologies such as biometrics, blockchain and artificial intelligence are exciting, these point solutions solve specific problems in a very complicated environment.

This is a crucial distinction because passengers have grown accustomed to seamless experiences, and expect as much wherever they are, whenever it is. Their everyday lives involve highly interconnected hardware and software that simply do not operate in silos – and airports must behave this way as well.

Silos leave financial value on the table. When people and software operate in silos, the lack of alignment not only severely cripples operational and cost efficiency but also leaves the door open to risky miscalculations that result in delays, inconvenience and even mishaps.
Aerial random
Moreover, burgeoning passenger growth is only increasingly burdening the traditional siloed set-up.

As inefficiencies compound, airports will continue to bleed money through delayed and reactionary decision-making. Particularly in times of irregular operations, operators risk missing opportunities to deliver a compelling customer experience.

In response to this, airport operators are today automating many of their processes on systems that can plan complex, interdependent resources.

Full integration begins by implementing a single, holistic system that gives planners a complete view of on-the-ground operations. Then, they will truly be able to drive operational performance improvements across the business.

By uniting all these voices and sharing timely, accurate information, airport operators can work with confidence. These are powerful tools that are available, out of the box, and can be configured to solve the many scheduling challenges in the airport.

From the airport entrance to the plane, airport operators can determine the position, efficiency and availability of their people and assets at any time from the convenience of a single access point.

The integrated, future-ready airport is able to utilise the power of automated decision-making and receive continuous feedback for operators to make adjustments on-the-fly, which is key for an environment with a staggering amount of variables.
Mobile use
Such a system can autonomously re-task employees when flights get delayed or when check-ins have already reached a certain level.

This is intelligence at the tip of one’s fingers: the flexibility to test scenarios in order to maximise efficiencies.

The system can respond to real-time developments in the airport and provide data that planners can use to calculate how future scenarios might unravel, giving them options for plans of action. It also makes collaborative decision-making with relevant stakeholders possible, quick and easy.

These capabilities are not arriving in the future. The solution that gives airport operators these capabilities are already here. It’s time to challenge the status quo of operating airports in silos and act to implement a solution that is highly modular, configurable and scalable.

Yes, each airport is unique, but the best solution is able to be configured to the present and future needs of each airport.

It’s up to airport operators now to engage expert partners that can implement a solution that integrates the airport for future success.

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