Becoming a data-driven airline

Our customer, a low-cost airline group, has seen significant growth over the last 25 years and the appetite for strategic and complex change has grown along with it. Their ability to execute fully on their ambition is hampered by significant issues and constraints across IT, data and change; and historic failed attempts to address some of these constraints have compounded issues.


In an ever-competitive post-COVID-19 landscape, the airline needs to stay ahead of the game to drive commercial growth and the operational efficiency of the business. The business needs to address the ability to deliver effectively, efficiently and have the agility to scale as required.


To do this they need to build from the understanding of the underlying issues that have historically constrained IT-enabled change and implement the end-to-end improvement plan, delivering quick wins that add to the bottom line and medium term foundational fixes that will deliver a much more Agile business.


In early 2020, Project One undertook a review across the IT, data and change functions, engaging key stakeholders across the business to understand their views and pain points on IT-enabled change. Our review also highlighted the IT delivery constraints, data delivery constraints and bottlenecks. Combined, there were a number of inter-connected issues across IT:


  • Immaturity in strategic portfolio process and decision-making to drive prioritisation
  • Issues translating business vision into tangible business outcomes and ownership of benefits realisation
  • Change delivery process adhoc and inflexible
  • Inconsistent and ineffective governance and controls to deliver at scale – cultural aversion to “process”
  • Capacity and bottlenecks in change expertise and subject matter experts
  • Technical legacy issues and under investment
  • Embryonic data delivery model
  • Supplier complexity and performance



What are the effects of COVID-19 and the economic climate?


The imperative for change could not be clearer in a marketplace where competitors are evolving and innovating their customer offering, and the risk of disintermediation from digital natives (e.g. Amazon India selling flights directly to consumers) remains an ever-present threat. Technology, data, capability and the delivery of change are core to future growth, not only in terms of enabling commercial transformation but also in driving operations excellence, and consistency and control in the corporate back office. Added to this is the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the fundamental impact of that on the Aviation industry.


Whilst there is undisputable complexity in the current systems landscape and IT operating model, we identified a practical set of actions to kick-start the process of transformation, putting into place the bedrock of capabilities upon which real business change can be delivered.


How do they build back better?


The airline’s well-established business model is built on making travel easy, enjoyable and affordable, whether it is for leisure or business, delivering long-term value to all stakeholders. Looking forward, their strategic priority must be to survive the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and emerge a thriving business in 2021/22, building on a well-established business model to provide a strong foundation to weather future challenges and to drive profitable growth.



Portfolio – Technology – Data


Technology, data, capability and the delivery of change are critical to future growth, maximising business flexibility, provided by taking a simple digital-first approach. How?


  • Change Delivery – drive simplification through a single enterprise change approach
  • Technology Delivery – drive digital simplification, reduce cost, drive standardisation and ensure consistent tooling
  • Data delivery – maximise customer insight and become the most data-driven airline



What change is needed to deliver more effectively?


Significant change is needed to ensure that IT are ‘doing the Right Things, in the Right Order, the Right Way, with the Right People, to get the Right Outcome’. Critical to this is ensuring the balance of the portfolio is constantly maintained and aligned to the portfolio planning events, including strategic planning and financial planning:


  • Identify
  • Shape
  • Deliver
  • Test
  • Launch


The opportunity is there to control demand and provide consistent and value-based delivery through the framework we have built. Implementing this framework would provide a consistent approach across the end-to-end delivery cycle, with the right governance and controls.


So, how can data be used more effectively?


They have already established their new data delivery model – the coordinated end-to-end approach that brings data science, data engineering, business change and data management capability together to deliver new data innovations solutions iteratively and collaboratively with the business. To date IT has:


  • Established our first two integrated delivery teams (or pods)
  • Started to proactively uplift the MVP to ‘done’, as well as starting to deliver two new data innovation solutions.



What’s next?


Looking forward, there is more we need to do:


  • Continue delivery of data innovation solutions through the established Pods
  • Set-up other Pods to provide focus across the business
  • Establish the federated data community – standardising data analysis across the business
  • Proactively ingest data into the new data hub to reduce the lead time in the delivery of new data innovations solutions.

Are you looking for critical business transformation?

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