As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves around the world, its impacts continue to be far-reaching – affecting people’s health, jobs, families, financial situations, travel plans and the most basic needs of daily living. The crisis is also levying a profound toll on most businesses – no more so than in our aviation world –  responding to avalanches of customer service calls and emails, supporting complex shut-downs, adjusting to new  government-imposed policies, and simply figuring out how to triage, assure revenue, reduce costs and reassure those who will want to travel in the coming months.

Team FrontM has been on video and phone calls over these past few weeks with senior executives from many of the world’s largest and most successful airlines, airports and industry partners. We expected they would be focused exclusively on their most pressing and immediate challenges. And while most are mobilising to solve the acute needs of “here and now,” a large number are also thinking beyond the next few weeks or months and understand this is the time for a massive rethink. This crisis has become a catalyst to build stronger airlines, airports – ready for a very different future in 2021 and beyond.

There is no going back to business-as-usual. Like all global crises that have come before, this one, too, will bring profound change. Changes to the way people work, commute, transact, collaborate, and interact will persist long after this crisis stabilises. Changes to the movement of goods, the procurement of supplies, the delivery of services, the engagement and servicing of customers, and the preparedness to continuously adapt, all require a new way of thinking.

Let’s envision a few specific aspects of our changed future, and why a new way of thinking is required:

  • Airlines will need to be much leaner, faster, and more adaptable than they thought they had to be. These have long been the aspirations of most Digital Transformation initiatives but have, more often than not, failed to deliver. Why? Because the focus has been on patchwork automations, providing new tools to an already bloated IT infrastructure, or using a simple ticketing-system to handle sophisticated cross-functional work processes. The list is almost infinite.  The common theme is that most airlines have not embraced an open platform-approach – one that helps an organisation design a business architecture that will deliver speed, scale, efficiency, and adaptability … all requirements for our industry’s new future. 
  • Digital must sustain your business. Airlines have long used words like “digital first,” but most have failed to design and operate that way, settling instead for hard-coding logic into a fragmented UI architecture. If we’ve learned anything over the past weeks, it’s that business resiliency requires exceptional and scalable digital customer experiences that can adapt instantly to changing market, company, and customer conditions, and flex to sustain commercial relationships when traditional models are disrupted. If your business logic is hard-wired and literally coded into your customer channels, it is impossible to engage and serve customers when your logic (buried in dozens of channels) no longer matches what your customers need, expect, or require.

Markets will always be unpredictable. But change doesn’t have to be.

New ways of connecting, selling, and servicing will push companies to innovate and collaborate with a sense of urgency. And from this crisis, we will see great new ideas.

As Winston Churchill once said: “Never waste a good crisis”. In FrontM’s definition, this means giving and enabling airlines and airports the opportunity to do things, engage their audiences and passengers in a powerful, easy to implement way. And, we enable things you thought you couldn’t do – quickly, efficiently. 

The airline leaders I’m speaking with are absolutely thinking beyond business-as-usual and focusing on outcomes they had not seriously considered possible before today. FrontM believes our solutions have great potential to help airlines  adapt to the changing needs of developing meaningful, deep, lasting digital relationships with their customers.

Connecting at source – and continuing that connectivity with contextualised engagements at every touchpoint – with the digital journey perfectly mirroring and enhancing the physical is the FrontM core solution. 

With this woven into the DNA of airlines and airports from 2020 – it is exactly the catalyst needed to re-design the audience and passenger interfaces with an underlying simplicity defying the complexity of what needs to be achieved.