by Divina Paredes

CIO 100: Air New Zealand

Mar 24, 2016
Technology Industry

AIR NEW ZEALAND recognises the need to shape the business to compete in the rapidly changing world of digital technology.

Digital transformation has the potential to deliver one of the biggest improvements for the business in the coming years.

The move to digital has led to the reorganisation of the ICT team and highlighted further the strategic role technology plays in the airline’s success.

The airline underwent a significant organisational change to create a digital portfolio that will bring together the skills,knowledge, strategy and innovation to deliver a digital transformation for both customers and staff. Air New Zealand also appointed its first chief digital officer, Avi Golan, with a portfolio that includes the ICT team, along with parts of the sales, marketing and operations.

“The new digital structure brings together all the skills, knowledge, strategy and innovation the airline says it will need across every area of the business to deliver a true digital transformation for our customers.”

“The new executive role – chief digital officer – has been created to represent digital at executive level,” Air NZ says. “In addition to the new structure, Air New Zealand has embarked on a DevOps journey and is moving towards self-suf. cient, multi-disciplined teams and new delivery frameworks and processes that are more Agile and Lean to deliver more value, faster.”

The chief digital of.cer portfolio was born from an ICT review that involved former CIO Julia Raue. Raue left in November after eight years in the role, but worked with the executive team on an ICT review that was widened to include how all areas of the organisation could grow their digital presence.

The ICT team will continue to deliver digital enablers, specifically platforms for the airline’s infrastructure on demand and APIs for their partners, suppliers and customers.

Over the past year, the airline has embarked on a customer service initiative to improve customer engagement – continuously looking to technology to interact with its customers and leverage data to provide a seamless travel experience.

The team used a series of ideation sessions, design-led thinking, observational techniques and interviews with both customers and stakeholders to identify a number of possibilities, which led to products that met customer needs.

One of these is the Airband, a wristband embedded with a near field communication chip given to children travelling unaccompanied at check-in. Air New Zealand staff scan the wristband at key stages of the journey triggering text notifications to the child’s nominated contacts. This is the first time this technology has been used by any airline for the purpose of providing caregivers with greater visibility and peace of mind.

In another example, when a flight from the US had to be rescheduled, the digital team looked at how they could improve customer engagement during similar incidents when flights are disrupted.

Air New Zealand’s digital transformation had myriad impacts on ICT projects, budget and staff. ICT budgets will increase next year, as the move to new technology and new methods of working will see a rise in cost during the transition. Staff numbers, in particular the digital roles that will work with different units, will also increase. Project numbers will remain stable, but will be delivered at a different pace.

In the digital move to continuous delivery, the airline will see a reduction in the number of traditional projects but a move towards smaller, faster to market deliverables, released frequently, and delivered by DevOps teams.

Overall Air New Zealand’s digital transformation journey has been pivotal in improving the collaboration between the Digital team and other areas of the business. The digital team also shared their experiences with other New Zealand companies.