Digital Transformation in Airline Industry

Airlines are being fostered to transform their businesses, to catch up with – or be ahead of technological trends, such as social media, cloud computing, mobile connectivity or big data. Considering the current pace of market penetration, we can observe a huge difference in today’s market from a decade ago. For instance, the complete travel experience of the passenger is completely digitized or increased its maturity on the digital space to provide greater travel experience.

Although digital trends open new ways of doing business, airlines claim that the adoption of these trends are complex and slow due to internal challenges. The key to business excellence is to properly exploit technological trends, which means that the risks of investing into these new technologies must be identified.

Airlines need the right technologies to monitor the trends and make the right strategic adjustments – will enable them to sustain with ‘Digital Dependent’ Customers. Such airlines alone can survive, exceed their competitors and make a profit.

Current Travel Eco-System

The travel eco-system getting more innovative and flexible for the new age travelers. The travelers footprint is getting digitized and the concentration ever increasing as the way industry witnesses.

Current Travel Eco-System

However, to provide such an eco-system, the airlines and TPAs are investing heavily in different forms of   resources but the reality is highly chaotic.  Why ?. Simple, The complexity, time and resourcing challenges. Above all, the ROI. Because, it has its own challenge to measure/present to the stakeholders invest on such digital transformation (Henceforth, ‘DT’). But the attempt is on war-foot to get its DT Strategy, right.

Airlines need the right technologies to monitor the trends and make the right strategic adjustments – will enable them to sustain with ‘Digital Dependent Customers

To make airlines’ life easy, I have drafted  a sample on how the DT for the airlines can be prepared. Let us engage on the following framework so that you may move away from the chaos and start triggering the outcome. The high-level framework or a structured approach for any digital transformation is given below.

Framework for Airlines to achieve Digital Transformation

Framework for Airlines to achieve Digital Transformation


The framework is a logical structure. To make it real and workable, we need to work on the components to take us to the reality.

Digital Transformation framework components


Assessment should be done for the organization on its current digital deployments and on its readiness for the future. Business functionalities, Customer demands and expectation as it is understood/perceived by the airline also need to be documented.  Competitor assessment and advancement on the digital space and the technology fitment of the organization should be validated.

Business Customer Fitment

We need to take the Business view, Customer view and arrive at the delta. More than filling the gap, we need to consider the expansion plans of the airlines. Segmented customer profile-wise the fitment has to happen (Loyalty customers, Business Customers, Occasional travelers, etc.,) on how that we would like to get addressed also should be evaluated. We also need to arrive the ‘stay connect’ plans so that the engagement happens with the customer to retain our business


We need to prepare Prioritization in terms of infrastructure and at resourcing level. The technology prioritization should be clearly defined. We also need to create the queue for – Must to have, best to have and Optional to have. The queue need to be apportioned against the customer, employee. However, the queue should be incremental so that it shows our commitment towards the transformation.

Building Digital Transformation Map

We need to have year-wise, month-wise functionality coverage when you define your DT map, as follows.

Digital Transformation Map

Once the above components are supplied with the data against the detailed assessment, the actual sampling can be done to the major areas. For example, given below the prioritization for MRO DT. Every DT at the Business functional level should clearly articulate or show the tentative ROI like the productivity gain, customer (employee) convenience and increasing the automation rather than depend on conventional model.

Prioritize the MRO

Developing DT is explained in brief. However, There is no ‘Standard’ that you can adopt. We are witness on how the technology is beating its own past. Life is a travel. We need to experience as we fly. Digital Transformation life provides such an experience.

Let us transform and experience. Wish you all the best.


  • Sreenivas Mateti April 9, 2017 Reply

    Good article. Nice insight, got to know the Eco system of airline industry.

  • Adipta Roy April 9, 2017 Reply

    Good one.

  • Anand April 9, 2017 Reply

    Awesome!!! DT by Bridging the gap between business requirements and customer requirements 🙂

  • Anand April 9, 2017 Reply

    Awesome!!! DT by Bridging the gap between business requirements and customer requirements 🙂

  • Imran Naveed April 10, 2017 Reply

    Very practical approach to achieve the DT.

  • Deepti Brinda April 10, 2017 Reply

    An Insightful and thought provoking read .. on achieving DT

  • Arindam Mukherjee April 10, 2017 Reply

    It’s very well written…nice perspective. DT is a complex journey and industry needs a transformation model that is pragmatic, executable friendly and produces simple & tangible output that benefits airlines & TPAs and its customers.

  • sanjeev kaul April 10, 2017 Reply

    Nice one, Bhaskara

  • Prasanta Mishra April 10, 2017 Reply

    Bring the Transformation in digital sphere which impact not only on Airline life but Human life also focused in this article very well. Now what is done, how it should be achieved is the next question?
    Well, waiting for another article and simultaneously follow and also invest the brain towards materialization.

  • Archit Rastogi April 10, 2017 Reply

    Good one Bhaskar!! Airlines have to ‘Stay connected’ with their passengers. DT will not only help airlines to bridge gap between airline and passengers but will also open more revenue channels

  • Yuvaraja Balakrishnan April 10, 2017 Reply

    Very nice article and well written, which shows DT increase personalization in their services to the customer and make accessible to real time information to increase productivity in day to day operations. Thank you Baskar for sharing us a informative approaches.

  • Madhavan April 10, 2017 Reply

    Super..Nicely written..When the design is being carried out, one has think about not just the current business model or approach but also the future..changes are permanent and unavoidable..?

  • Mani April 10, 2017 Reply

    Very good article.

  • John Thomas April 11, 2017 Reply

    Very nice insights on DT for Airline Business Process explained. With the exploration of IOT space, every business tries to take advantage and enhance their market position. This DT journey blueprint will guide the organization to put their priorities in right path.

  • ANAND SUDHANDHIRAN April 11, 2017 Reply

    Wonderful article on digital transformation basker . DT will delight the airline passengers and stakeholders involved in the airline industry upon implementation .

  • Niranjini Manokaran April 11, 2017 Reply

    Very well written Baskar. Good one ! Thanks for sharing.

  • Ram N April 11, 2017 Reply

    Good one. An accurate and deep understanding on Digital Transformation. Thanks for sharing.

  • Rajaram Natarajan April 12, 2017 Reply

    Baskar, This article is very useful, thanks for sharing. You rightly said that “The travel eco-system getting more innovative and flexible for the new age travelers. The travelers footprint is getting digitized and the concentration ever increasing as the way industry witnesses.”.

    We could see now more number new age travelers in India itself. Air passenger volume got increased, so DT of TT industry is required to stay competitive…

  • Kimberly Trant April 12, 2017 Reply

    Thanks for sharing this Baskar

  • RK Panicker April 13, 2017 Reply

    Nicely drafted Baskar.

    Though Majority of process still running the conventional method and there are lots more areas to be looked for Digital transformation along with Business Process Automation . Airlines Eco system started started transformation Journey from TPF to Digi Technology however the legacy still plays significant role due to many barricades of changeover . But as you articulated changes are started and it will transform the technology bridge with changes in Business Operating process.

    There are many TTL customers are now willing to transform technology along with Change in Business process model . This is basically both techno process digit automation which can bring the capex/Opex and increase ROI.

    • Baskar Rengaiyan April 13, 2017 Reply

      RK, Absolutely. However the challenge what i have been noticing is in the area of prioritization. DT can be done with completely and meticulous planning. Stay connected, RK.

  • Augustine Paul Samuel April 13, 2017 Reply

    It is a lighthouse in the shallow waters of many DT articles Baskar. Thanks for sharing

  • Prasad Jape April 17, 2017 Reply

    Very well written article! Glad to know about the current eco system of airline industry and the approach for digital transformation.

    We can also add two layers to prioritize DT: customer’s experience/ease of life and budget requirement. Airline industry should implement in phases. Given the fast technological change, partners can help tremendously in the initial phase as well as the risk of investment in the technology can be shared.

  • Muralidharan Laxmanan April 18, 2017 Reply

    A Good One. It was very informative and well explained.

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