The future of value realisation
Drawing on his experience, Rashid Al Busaidy, Head of ICT Strategy & Technology Innovation at Oman Airports Management Company, talks to International Airport Review about his views on implementing successful digital transformation programmes in your airport.
We hear digital ‘buzz’ words often in the airport sector, from big data, artificial intelligence (AI) to augmented intelligence, cloud, robotics, etc. The question is, how do we draw our digital transformation roadmap, and embrace digital tools to achieve our objectives?
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the global economy and the aviation industry was overburdened financially. As a result, various digital initiatives were either paused, or in some cases, dropped completely, to ensure that airports were able to sustain and run with bare minimum investments. On the other hand, the pandemic taught the industry many lessons, namely that digital transformation is absolutely necessary.
The digital journey
Embracing digital transformation is not restricted to automation of business processes and the implementation of cutting-edge technology. Studies have proven that ownership from executive leaders is vital to realise the digital journey (de la Boutetière, Montagner, Reich, 2018); the top-bottom approach is necessary. This includes establishing a digital culture across the organisation and ensuring that every member within the company is onboard with the transformation journey by embracing culture change. Digital executives and leaders are not only executing business strategies and demands; they have a responsibility to shape the business direction and be a key driver of its transformation.
The realisation of the digital transformation benefits are dependent on establishing a solid digital transformation ecosystem to address, and support, the business mid- and long-term objectives, and that can ultimately achieve the broad corporate vision. Organisations should set the tone of their digital acceleration and ownership by introducing a Digital Committee formed from various respective business functions to decide on the digital focus, that supports the operating and business model of your airport and oversees digital initiatives across the organisation. This approach facilitates embedding your digital teams within your business functions and creates a harmony between functions to achieve the transformation objectives. This harmony streamlines the objectives and allows all business functions to focus on a customer-centric approach which keeps the customers at the heart of what they do. Moreover, it allows the organisation to realise quick positive results and foster innovation. Setting up ideation workshops based on identified ‘Problem Statements’ to create specific use cases based on cutting-technologies that would solve a current or future challenge, is one example of ensuring that your digital team works in synergy with the business functions.
A complex ecosystem
The airport industry works in an ecosystem, consisting of many key stakeholders. Thus, collaboration is a key success factor since there are many interconnected processes. Involving stakeholders in digital initiatives and getting them onboard the transformation journey is vital for its success.
The aviation industry is a regulated industry, which means the transformation of conventional processes might not practically be as easy as it seems, due to local and international regulation body restrictions. To facilitate and strengthen synergies between airports, regulators, and technology firms, airports are encouraged to work closely with local and international regulatory bodies along with technology suppliers and disruptors. This strategic partnership will support the exploitation of enormous digital opportunities across the sector and will ensure that regulations support the digital transformation agendas for the industry. On the other hand, technology suppliers will ensure that products are more customer focused and in line with industry practice and regulations. This partnership and collaboration will enable regulatory bodies to be ahead and up-to-date on regulations to support future technology directions.
Technology leaders and executives have even more responsibility post-COVID-19 towards digital transformation. The investments in digital technologies post-pandemic should be more precise on three elements: solving a current or future challenge; transforming a conventional process that will eventually reduce cost to the organisation; or implementing a technology that will have a direct ROI to the organisation.
Rashid Al Busaidy holds a BSc in Computer Science and MSc in Computing and IT Management from the University of Cardiff with an award of Distinction. He has experience across different industries from banking, consultancy, public sector, and aviation, where he led different strategic projects across those industries. In addition, he has been a key member in the development of the aviation digital strategy in Oman. He is a key founding member of the multiple airport innovation forums, which is focused on digital innovation for personalised passenger experience, and operational excellence. Currently, Al Busaidy is leading the ICT Strategy and Innovation within Oman Airports with a mandate to look after the digital transformation programme within Oman Airports.
Airport development, Artificial intelligence (AI), Autonomous Technology, Contactless / Touchless technology, COVID-19, Digital transformation, New technologies, Passenger experience and seamless travel