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Turn travel into enchantment with Systems of Engagement

By:  Pierre Bijaoui, Applications Services Technology Lead, Hewlett Packard Company

 

Airport queue - compressed.jpgSystems of engagement are applications and processes which help at the moment in time when a company engages with their customers, employees, other companies or government/authorities. We often refer to these engagements as B2C (business to customer), B2E (business to employees), or B2B (I'll let you figure out this one).  Businesses spend a lot of energy optimizing internal systems, but they must remember to pay close attention to the how systems engage with an external audience, especially customers and end users.

 

In HP Travel and Transportation, we have worked on solutions that help airports and ground handlers service their customers. This requires understanding the expectations that their customers will have towards the people they have to interact with during their travels.

 

System of engagement in the moment: queues in airports

Airlines and airports have customers, mostly travelers. They have to go through certain processes, and it's true that IT is not always necessary to make those processes easy. Remember the pre-9/11 curbside check-in in American airports? The ability, as you step out of your cab, to check-in and drop your bag. It was a queue problem. Get rid of the queue, you get rid of the problem.

 

Now, with security measures, queues have returned, and some just can't be optimized. Mind you, full body scanners are being installed (security queues), and several airports have implemented some pretty cool check-in gates (e.g. Zurich), which just require you to scan your boarding pass barcode and let you through. That is a great example of process improvement. The overall check-in process has improved, from online check-in, barcode generation, easy printing or boarding pass handling via mobile/personal device, etc.

 

We have just described a system of engagement: an assembly of process and tools that help at the moment the airport and the airline are interacting with their passengers.

 

Turning the moment into an enchantment . . .

You could go further into the process of check-in and luggage drop, and walk the queue with a mobile device. In other words, instead of the customer walking to the counter for a check-in process, the agent can walk up the queue and preprocess or fully process the passengers using a tablet and portable printing device. Now, this is not revolutionary in the sense that this has existed for quite some time in trains (the conductor walks through the passenger cars and dispenses tickets and processes payments), but it is a significant evolution of a rather complex process (seat allocation, passenger and luggage verification), and during that moment, there may be an opportunity to sell more to the traveler, such as a discount to the airline lounge.

 

This moment of engagement is not just an opportunity to engage with a commercial activity, it is also an opportunity of enchantment, which will bring much more return than a 10€ voucher sale. Ask Apple's customers: an enchanted customer is a loyal customer and a brand advocate.. By delivering the best value of all, an intimate, emotional value, your business will grow a client base that has a passion for your products and services.

 

. . . or a nightmare

The advent of social networks is such that your airline (or any company engaged in transactional activities with a third party) is fully at risk in creating a negative buzz if you badly handle even just one client. 99% satisfaction is just not good enough anymore. The negative buzz created by a person who was prevented from taking his breathing system on board would have never existed without Twitter and other real-time communication devices. Now, as a traveler, what do you prefer? A five-star customer service, an ultra-low-cost, or both?

 

So now what?

Systems of engagement should be designed with the end customer in mind. So far, this is a fairly obvious statement. With the advent of new technologies, faster processing, denser storage, you can, as a business, be more relevant than ever during your moment of engagement! But that is only after you have set for yourself a clear strategy for your systems of record. SOA is getting a second breath. Largely decried in the early 2000's for its cost of implementation with little reward, it becomes more relevant than ever for pervasive consumption of refined data services. I find it funny that nowadays, people tend to generalize the word API (Application Programming Interface), when in fact, it's all about web services (SOAP or REST), which themselves form a typical SOA implementation.

 

The emergence of operational data intelligence, the need to be relevant during customer interactions, and the requirement of doing all of that anywhere, anytime (subtitle: mobile!) form the purposes of systems of engagement. Your response, as a business has to be fast (agile) and valuable. Your competitors are not expecting you to respond: to paraphrase Auric Goldfinger, "They expect you to die!"

 

Next month, I will give another (pretty cool) example of systems of engagement in the world of travel.  Till then, wish you were here!  - Pierre.

 

Pierre Bijaoui’s blog series on The 7 Deadly Sins of Applications Transformation:

Other blogs by Pierre Bijaoui:

Related links: 

About the author

 

headshot.JPGPierre Bijaoui, Applications Services Technology Lead, Hewlett Packard Company

Pierre works as a Technology Lead for HP Application Services in EMEA. His experience includes building and delivering application services, and transforming application landscapes to drive better results. Pierre has been involved recently in massive application portfolio transformation, and currently focuses on complex migrations to cloud-hosted environments. Pierre is based in Sophia Antipolis, France.

Comments
Rose | ‎06-21-2014 12:25 PM

I found lots of interesting information here. The post was professionally written and I feel like the author has extensive knowledge in this subject. Thanks for sharing such an interesting topic on system of engagement... Great job!!!

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