Transforming airline customer experience using an innovative route to the cloud

by Kelly Crosby
October 26, 2017

The airline industry has always been highly dependent on IT. This has been true since long before the web – and way before smartphones – began putting unprecedented power into customers’ hands. For example, the introduction of multi-airline computerized reservation systems like Sabre started transforming the air travel customer experience as far back as the 1960s.

These days, as air travel becomes more dependent on data than ever, all those years of non-stop technological innovation can sometimes slow the pace of change as much as it accelerates it. Despite so many advances, the industry overall is still highly dependent on systems built decades ago, that include layers of updates; something an analyst described a few years ago as “a spaghetti of networks.”

In more recent years, the application of data has been liberating for providers and passengers alike, helping drive passenger traffic and industry revenues to greater heights than ever. Though as with any powerful technology, it can come with a downside as well. For example, when customers began to share their CX concerns live over social media. Or when a critical system experienced even the slightest hint of latency or downtime, which typically brought the customer experience down with it.

The vital role of the network in an always-on, cloud connected world

Of course, nobody is more hyper-sensitive to the needs of this environment than operations and marketing/CX executives in the airline industry. Like their counterparts in other digital driven businesses, airline industry leaders are constantly exploring new approaches to meeting high-availability infrastructure demands. Today, this has many of them looking to take their technical destiny into their own hands, using a new generation of data transport solutions with the flexibility and scalability to deliver against needs that continue to grow at a pace traditional network architectures can’t keep up with.

Optical Wavelength Services and dedicated Ethernet rise to the occasion

Working with innovative businesses that need to take their resources to the next level is a great opportunity for companies like ours, allowing us to showcase our own vision of the networked future. So we were thrilled to begin work recently with one of the leading global airline services companies, supporting service to over 50 countries, to help them transform their approach to meeting their application roadmap in order to deliver a superior experience to customers and employee/end users as well.

Working with our optical networking partners at Ciena, Windstream is implementing a next generation optical encryption service that will give the company increased capability to leverage sophisticated analytics, and apply software driven service agility to our customers’ networks. This will also help drive the added level of security, business continuity, application availability and overall improvements to CX and UX needed to remain a step ahead of escalating consumer demands and the logistical complexity that is inherent in the airline space.

In addition to the underlying technology, Windstream will provide ongoing consulting services that will enable the company to build a ubiquitous digital ecosystem that includes high-speed encrypted optical Wavelength Servicesdedicated Ethernet Internet Access and Cloud Connect application delivery solutions that provide highly secure connectivity to private cloud data centers and major Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) including AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, Google Cloud, Oracle Fast Connect and Salesforce.

The result will provide the airline services company’s datacenters with connectivity to support their most critical applications, protect in-transit data with low fixed latency and provide an added layer of security against theft and business disruption.

The future of airline IT is in the cloud

As in virtually every industry, the secret to gaining a competitive edge in delivering against consumer expectations relies heavily on moving applications and data to the cloud. But the move is not without risk, given the potential impact even the slightest delay may introduce to the customer experience.

The secret to successfully delivering on this level of transformational change requires a mix of innovative technology along with confidence that comes from deep experience with customers looking to aggressively harness the power of network enabled change.

As Windstream’s CMO Joe Harding noted, this is the type of engagement where Windstream excels. “The customer asked us to help them get big fast” – making reference to the challenge of quickly building a solution to help them overcome layers of immense technical complexity in order to take greater advantage of the cloud. “We’re excited to work with them do just that.”