How BI Can Solve Airline and Passenger Woes - InformationWeek

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3/19/2007
10:39 AM
Cindi Howson
Cindi Howson
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How BI Can Solve Airline and Passenger Woes

Stranded travelers and lost luggage are daily news items of late. Outraged passengers, grounded on the tarmac for hours, are demanding a Passenger Bill of Rights. Airlines, business intelligence can rescue you! Here is my three-step recipe on how BI can solve airline and passenger woes...

Stranded travelers and lost luggage are daily news items of late. Outraged passengers, grounded on the tarmac for hours, are demanding a Passenger Bill of Rights. Airlines, BI can rescue you!

As James May, head of ATA wrote in a USA Today editorial, the best punishment for airlines with bad service records is natural economic forces -- let customers fly better-managed airlines. In reality, customers don't know which airlines are better managed as we have so little information about airline performance and even less about things like lost baggage rates.Flightstats is one resource available to consumers, powered by Business Objects Crystal Reports. It could do with some more flexibility, greater historical data, and explanations on why flights were delayed (weather vs. bad management), but it's a start, and kudos that it's current data. I'd like to see Flightstats add BusinessObjects Web Intelligence or Voyager as a more powerful way to access the data.

Cognos was really onto something when they released this test drive about two years ago. The data is static and you won't find the test drive on their home page anymore, since PowerPlay Web has been replaced by Cognos 8 Analysis Studio. Nonetheless, it gives a nice illustration of what could be done by airlines, Travelocity or Expedia.

Here is my three-step recipe on how BI can solve airline and passenger woes:

• Provide consumers with easy-to-use information about airline performance via a friendly BI interface • Embed performance information within reservation systems (think Operational BI) so consumers can readily see and compare performance at booking time (Check out United Airlines, which has already begun providing this for some flights)


Click to enlarge in another window

• Improve monitoring of performance and plane capacity. Airlines already use BI to do this internally, but, clearly, some airlines use the information more effectively than others! In particular, it appears that many need to better leverage the emerging capability of Location Intelligence to ensure planes are grounded in the right place during extreme weather. BI vendors SAS and IBI both integrate with ESRI. Business Objects, Cognos, and MicroStrategy all have integration options with MapInfo.

In the meantime, I guess we'll all have to hope for the best and book the cheapest flight at the most convenient time with the best reward program! I was only delayed an hour in the last ice storm, and I was grateful that Continental gave me at least three e-mail updates on the Blackberry. Did I just get lucky, or is it a coincidence that they have been recognized by both TDWI and Gartner for their BI Excellence?

Cindi Howson, author of BIScorecard product reviews.Stranded travelers and lost luggage are daily news items of late. Outraged passengers, grounded on the tarmac for hours, are demanding a Passenger Bill of Rights. Airlines, business intelligence can rescue you! Here is my three-step recipe on how BI can solve airline and passenger woes...

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