Need I say Moores

Data is the new oil

At the recent Aviation Festival in London, an observation from one of the moderators really struck me: “Data is the new oil.”

The parallel is a good one. Airlines need fuel to keep flying. Those that fail to tap the data pipeline will not continue to fly – or so Emirates president Tim Clark believes. “If you don’t do this, you will perish—you will not be there,” he warned.

Like oil, data is a lucrative resource. Through data, airlines can connect more closely with their customers, add value, improve their operational efficiency and cut costs, ultimately boosting their bottom line. Clark is right; those that use that information correctly will be industry winners.

However, airlines have been sat on untapped data for a long time, without the ability to drill for it. Now the technology is available to mine that data, they need to move quickly.

IT goliaths like Amazon and Google have the machinery and experience to commoditize air transport.  If that happens, the airline industry will just become a capacity pipeline, losing control of the customer relationship.

“Google has committed not to sell tickets until 2020. After 2020, they have said nothing. They don’t have any access to inventory, but through maths they can rebuild [airline] inventory to an incredible degree of accuracy,” de Juniac said.

Finally, like oil, data is wrapped up in politics. Everyone wants to control it and nobody wants to share, even though a joined-up approach across the whole passenger journey is in the customers’ interests.

Airlines and airports fiercely guard their customers as their own territory, forcing them to download separate apps for every bit of the journey. If this continues, someone will work out a way of going direct to the passenger, focusing on their needs and circumventing this corporate self-interest.

In the age-old discussion about who owns the customer, the best answer I’ve ever heard is that the customer owns the customer. And, ultimately, whoever gives them empowerment will be the winner.

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@penton.com

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Need I say Moores?

Need I say Moores

Blog Archive