Nowadays you hear a lot about terms like Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and how everybody is profiting from these new technologies. So the logical question for regional airports is off course: Should you invest in them as well?
On a basic level, machine learning is a technique for predicting future outcomes based on past events, by creating models that learn from past data. It could help airports to improve the predictability of processes, adverse conditions or resource availability.
Big data analytics is the process of collecting and analysing the large volume of data sets (called Big Data) to discover useful hidden patterns and other information like passenger choices and market trends. This can help organizations make more informed and passenger-oriented business decisions. If you want to increase your non-aeronautical revenues, Big data may have the answers.
What makes Blockchain such an attractive proposition is the extra level of trust it creates around data. It can create a single source of truth. The technology can help to improve the consistency of passenger information, create transparency between stakeholders or simplify the sharing of information in a trusted way. Think about the added transparency and clarity that Blockchain can offer in determining the root cause of a flight delay.
These emerging technologies can have great potential for regional airports. And of course, it would not hurt your image if your airport is on the cutting edge of technology!
It means becoming digital
There is one thing these technologies have in common. They are the pinnacle of the digital environment. That means you need your data to be digitally available. More importantly, the data has to be accurate, consistent and accessible for all partners. You need to have open, solid systems that supersede the boundaries of individual applications.
That is not the case for many regional airports today. Digital sharing of information between partners at airports is still low. The different systems stakeholders use, are often not compatible. Besides that, stakeholders fill out handwritten forms and fax them to their partners. Also, conformations by phone are still common.
Start with the base
That is why we believe regional airports could better start with investing in a digital environment with an open architecture, so that all partners share information more accurately, efficiently and digitally. This is the first step.
Only if all partners have their base in order, and digitally share accurate and accessible data between each other, you can think about the next steps, like investing in these new technologies. Implementing Machine Learning and Blockchain require high investments, whereas the benefits are low if the base is not right.
Since margins are under pressure and investment budgets are tight, we believe it is better to take a step back, look at all factors and make sure the base is right; that you have the right infrastructure and that everybody in the chain understands the need for digital sharing.
Being on the front of innovation sounds nice, but if it does not bring the increase, it can do more harm than good. You can only spend your money once!
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