by Kim S. Nash

Jet Blue’s Founder Starts Over With IT at Azul

Apr 27, 20092 mins
IT LeadershipMobileSmall and Medium Business

David Neeleman, Jet Blue's founder, applies what he learned about IT to Azul, the airline he launched last year.

What can you do now that you couldn’t do at JetBlue?

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What JetBlue’s CIO Learned About Customer Satisfaction

From a reliability and a capital point of view, we decided to do a lot more outsourcing here than I was comfortable with at JetBlue—the data center, phone system and pretty well everything. Even parts of our reservations center.

We do some software development internally, but most development is outsourced. Instead of having hundreds of people on the IT staff, we have probably 15, and those 15 are really, really smart.

How does that make possible the airline you want to build?

We can move a lot quicker. For every bit of IT functionality proposed, you have to ask yourself, ‘What’s it going to cost me? What’s it going to save me? Do my customers like me better because of it?’ Even if you pay more, it’s better to do things faster than let things languish for years.

What languished?

When I left [the CEO position at] JetBlue [in 2007], we still couldn’t send text messages to people when flights were late. The ability to have frequent-flyer customers see their balance and use that to make a reservation online—we didn’t have that at JetBlue for a long time and here we do. This communication with customers is critical.

How involved will your IT group be in talking with customers?

Totally. Our president [Pedro Janot] flies every week. He has a little book to take notes in. He’s talked to over 1,000 customers in the last four weeks. When the president asks you, ‘Did you talk to customers’ and you haven’t, you don’t feel so well.

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