I was excited to host the airlines and transportation industry
panel at Knowledge18 this year, as this is a sector that is showing
such a progressive and expansive level of digital services adoption.
The session itself was entitled ‘Modernization and transformation of
services in transportation and speakers included: Dean Underwood,
head of technology services for Virgin Trains Andy Lawrence, head of
production services at Maersk and Paul McDonald, head of technical
operations centre for Emirates Airlines.
We started off by
asking our panel about the trends now affecting their approach to
Customer Service Management (CSM).
Detailing the work carried
out at Virgin Trains, Dean Underwood explained how his team has
worked hard to swap out existing CSM legacy systems and embrace
digital services throughout every tier of his organization. As a
Virgin brand, Virgin Trains has very high expectations of itself
when it comes to CSM, so process excellence is paramount.
Explaining how Maersk has deployed a number of ServiceNow
modules, Andy Lawrence said that a lot of disruption is happening in
the shipping industry due to container services now being carried
out in a market where rapidly changing customer demand can be much
harder to predict.
Emirates Airlines’ Paul McDonald spoke of
moving 59 million passengers in 2017 and said that this – on paper
at least – makes it very difficult to completely personalize a
For all these companies, the central
theme reflected was that their relationships with IT providers – and
all other value-chain suppliers they operate with – must now move
from being ‘black boxes’ of silo-based systems, into a new era of
‘glass box’-powered information streams, where visibility and
management is maximized.
A question of intelligence
Questioning how integration
and intelligence technologies will now impact the transportation
industry, our speakers looked at where advances in areas including
machine learning will change the way their firms operate.
With four million containers being shipped around the planet,
supply chain management is also undergoing digital transformation.
Maersk is increasing its number of new ‘intelligent containers’ with
sensors and other IoT device enhancements. Shipping ISO containers
can be likened to a massive game of Tetris, so if machine learning
can lead to operations being carried with a smaller number of moves
then a greater level of efficiency is achieved.
in train management there is a massive management task involved in
daily operations. Live data from customer seat purchases must be
integrated with schedules, journeys currently in progress and other
core operational factors in this always-on business.
also now look to new strains of data such as crowdsourced
information from passengers themselves who, where they are willing
to share the information, can help with train coach load
Emirates Airlines is also changing the way it
carries out flight team checks. The company is looking at how it can
start to incorporate the use of drones to complement (not replace)
the human inspections that are performed before every flight.
Other areas of technology implementation in the transportation
industry include Business Incident Management (BIM). All three
speakers recognized the need to keep people safe as the primary
consideration throughout the transportation industry’s many
If we think about the associated and ancillary
functions that every company in the transportation industry will
have to manage, such as payment, we have a responsibility to use
technology to manage these elements of business and intelligently
automate via machine learning them where possible. When we can do
this successfully, transport companies can focus on transportation –
not on paperwork and logistics.
The digital journey ahead for transport
Looking at the
digital transformation journey ahead, all three speakers recognized
the need for strong governance controls in environments where they
will also have to apply the strongest change management functions
possible to cope with constant demands and always-on
Digital transformation its workflow is essentially
connected to a fully-integrated backend. ServiceNow’s role in
helping to facilitate and underpin the operations running these new
digital transportation and supply chain management services is
almost one of ‘gatekeeper’, in that we provide the intelligence to
enable these firms to keep running.