November 26, 2018 | Written by: Greg Land
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In the travel and transportation industry today, digital transformation is at the core of every decision being made by airlines, railways, hotel chains, rental car agencies, and travelers. Data-driven business models have permeated the entire supply chain, and the travel journey for businesses and consumers alike is being transformed as the pace of change accelerates.
Disruption and innovation is the name of the game right now, and the next few years will be crucial to see how the industry will progress. As travel and transportation companies continue to jockey for position in a competitive environment, here are five things they should be thinking about going into 2019 to stay ahead of the curve:
1. Life in the Information Fast Lane
AAA projects that the largest growth in upcoming holiday travel is by air, at 5.4 percent, with 4.27 million travelers. What does that uptick mean for businesses? How can AI and automation solve challenges like congestion or weather? More travelers means more data, and mining that data has become key to improving the travel journey. Knight Transportation – the largest trucking company in the U.S. – joined forces with The Weather Company to deliver real-time weather alerts that help drivers avoid adverse conditions and reach their destination safely and on time.
2. All Hands On the Flight Deck
More and more companies, including major airlines like United and American, are bringing their employees and customers into the design process of core mobile applications. As more millennials become active travelers for business or pleasure, these mobile applications should mirror their connected lifestyles. Younger generations in the digital age think differently about how technology should look and operate. Developers and business leaders cannot underestimate how digital-first generations can inform the ways these applications will be designed and delivered around the world.
3. Approaching the Finish Line Faster
Similar to weather’s impact on business, shifting supply chains are also causing new forms of disruption. Sysco – the world’s largest food service distributor with 270 locations worldwide, over $55 billion in sales, and 500,000 customers – makes 150,000 daily deliveries to customers that are using that food to serve lunch and dinner the same day. There’s no time for error. A few minutes of delay can affect warehouse operations, and a few more minutes can delay the actual delivery to their customers. How can we continue to improve on our technology to exceed customer expectations? Disrupters like AI-powered autonomous vehicles and delivery drones are also on the verge of changing shipping and logistics, with implications for jobs and skills, delivery speed, and brand loyalty that need to be grappled with.
“With 150,000 deliveries per day, there is no time for error!” — Wayne Shurts, Sysco CTO and Executive Vice President.
4. Don’t Rain On My Travel Plans
Weather remains the primary variable when it comes to traffic flows on roads, rails, and in the air. While weather can catch us by surprise sometimes, there is plenty of technology at our fingertips to help us predict weather’s impact on business. Alerting customers to potential delays and giving more accurate drive-time estimates can improve sales volumes and customer satisfaction. New IBM capabilities like Travel Time Forecast analyze weather forecasts with historical traffic data to help businesses make those smart decisions and reduce errors by as much as 30 percent.
5. Taking the Quantum Leap Over the Horizon
IBM has worked alongside numerous travel and transportation companies navigating the IT roadmap as they pursue digital transformation. But after modernizing systems, getting their arms around data, and building new digital channels, what’s the next breakthrough? IBM and Maersk’s blockchain venture to bring efficient, secure trade to global shipping is already making strides, and quantum computing is poised to be able to find the optimal path across global systems for ultra-efficient logistics and supply chains, such as optimizing fleet operations for deliveries during the holiday season. The next big thing is always just over the horizon.