The Most Powerful Tool You Aren’t Using (Yet)

Joe Waller

Attendees of the recent AXN conference could be forgiven if they thought they had inadvertently wandered into a technology conference rather than a forum dedicated to the customer experience and airport concessions. The hot topic at the conference was the critical importance of digital technology as opposed to the more traditional discussions of retail and restaurant trends. This started with the keynote speaker and continued throughout the day in session after session.

Joe Waller is the chief revenue officer of FetchyFox, a company that creates AI-powered digital infrastructure for airports. Waller previously served as chief executive officer of Pacific Gateway and in senior leadership for both HMSHost and Westfield. While at HMSHost, he led the team that created the first mobile app for food ordering and delivery, which in 2012 the National Restaurant Association named one of the most significant innovations in the restaurant industry.

While the focus on digital technology may have been unexpected for some attendees, it should not have been a surprise. In recent months, leaders in virtually all industries—including our own—have come to realize the tremendous power of digital technology and, specifically, artificial intelligence (AI). Indeed, in September, ACI-World published the Digital Transformation Handbook, which had this blunt recommendation for airport operators struggling with lower revenue and changing traveler expectations: Increase investment in digital technology in order to leverage data analytics, increase intelligent automation and optimize efficiency

So, why is ACI-World advising airport executives to follow the lead of global companies as diverse as Chipoltle and Ikea by increasing spending on AI-powered digital infrastructure? The answer is simple once you understand what AI can do. When many executives hear the phrase “data analytics” they think of Excel spreadsheets, pivot tables or having someone “crunch the numbers.” However, AI (or machine learning as those in the industry prefer to call it) is to Excel what the Wright Flyer is to state-of-the-art jets.

What specifically can AI do? A properly architected AI-powered digital platform can touch on and improve virtually every aspect of the airport experience—both traveler facing and back of house. Here are a few examples:

  • Terminal optimization through sophisticated analysis of passenger movements and behavior
  • An intelligent digital marketplace that improves customer satisfaction while at the same time reducing or even eliminating queuing, increasing labor efficiency, maximizing revenues and margins for operators. Individual elements can include:
  • QR code-activated menus that are personalized based on an individual customer’s preferences and behaviors as well as the operator’s current inventory
  • Tools for operators that automatically use dynamic real-time data to inform customers how long it will take to prepare their orders
  • Menu throttles that maximize throughput by automatically removing high-labor products from the menu when the location is overwhelmed
  • Security line forecasting that allows travelers to know how long it will take to get through TSA checkpoints well before they get to the airport and sends notifications if that time is expected to change
  • Targeted traveler loyalty programs that include cross marketing

That list is a tiny fraction of the ways AI can improve the airport experience for both travelers and operators.

Airport executives looking to build their digital infrastructure should bear in mind three critically important factors. First of all: Modern, functional digital infrastructure must include sophisticated AI/machine learning to be effective. Simply collecting data is useless, and a waste of both money and time. You need AI to turn that data into a valuable resource.

Secondly, an AI-powered digital marketplace is a win for travelers, concession operators and the airport. Roughly one-third of Amazon’s revenue is the result of AI-generated personal recommendations. Old school digital marketplaces that do not utilize AI will underperform both from a customer service and revenue standpoint.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it is crucial for airport operators to recognize that AI-powered digital infrastructure is a tool that virtually all of their stakeholders can use. Engage those stakeholders early in the process and educate them about how they will benefit from this powerful technology.

Artificial intelligence/machine learning is a proven tool that can help executives make informed decisions, improve efficiency and maximize customer satisfaction. As such, it should be considered a critical piece of infrastructure for modern airports.

Integration of GIS with CMMS & EAM Systems

A growing number of Airports, Warehouses, private and public utilities today are implementing Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) and Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) systems. In 2019, the CMMS software market was worth $0.92 billion. By 2027, it is expected to reach $1.77 billion, increasing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.58% during 2020-2027.

This developing interest in asset and maintenance management is driven by the multiple benefits that an EAM system and a CMMS offer in terms of prolonging the useful life of maturing infrastructure, and assets. On the other hand, a geographic information system (GIS) offers exceptional capabilities and flexible licensing for applying location-based analytics to infrastructures such as airports, roadways, and government facilities.
Both GIS and CMMS systems complement one another. For companies looking to increase the return on investment (ROI) on their maintenance efforts, integrating a GIS with a CMMS platform is an expected headway that can considerably improve the capabilities of their maintenance crew and give them the best results.
This whitepaper takes a closer look at the definitions and benefits of GIS, EAM, and CMMS. Moreover, it sheds light on some important considerations associated with the integration of GIS with an EAM system and CMMS. It also presents a powerful solution to streamline the integration process.


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