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The Node

What to do in 2019: the view from the top

By Oliver King, CEO of the Avinode Group

Everyone’s inboxes will be full of recommendations about the technology trends for 2019. Let’s be clear, most of these are going to be of little relevance to business aviation. We are a small industry servicing a customer base of around 30,000 end clients globally.

Other industries will pioneer progress in key areas, and as the price sinks, we will adopt. I love looking ahead; it’s fascinating when you see trends powering through other industries and you wonder which will impact and revolutionize business aviation.

So here are a few of my tips to consider if you want to be successful in business aviation in 2019…

1. Make your business smartphone-friendly right now. Yes, I know we were all talking up the mobile revolution 10 years ago but it’s still a critical trend today. It’s a sector that just keeps changing, growing and becoming more important. Our own mobile apps are hugely popular, proving the point. People today expect to be able to do everything they can do on their office computers on their smartphones as well. What’s more, they expect to do everything on their smartphones easily.

2. Maximize the potential and presentation of all the great data you hold. Data remains one of the most underrated assets held by business aviation operators and brokers. Let’s make 2019 the year of business intelligence (BI) in our industry. Are you using leading analytics services, such as Tableau and Microsoft’s Power BI, yet? No? If you still send out an e-mail of sales results, manually keyed in every Friday, it’s time for a change. But, talking of data…

3. Treat the ‘big data’ frenzy with caution. Yes, our friends in the airline industry have achieved fantastic results from the computational analysis of large data sets. Big data is a driving force behind the growth of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) in the travel industry, which in turn bring powerful benefits such as intensely personalized online marketing. When you’re handling millions of customer interactions each year, smart scrutiny of your data is sure to reveal important patterns, trends and associations. But a small industry such as business aviation is only serving a global customer base of perhaps 30,000 end-clients, whereas commercial airlines are together carrying billions of scheduled passengers annually. Bizav simply doesn’t have the numbers to support big data. So, should you be hiring a data scientist in 2019, mining your data to gain insights into your business and help you power your way to profitability? In short: no.

4. Take cybersecurity more seriously than ever before. Did you breathe a sigh of relief when you complied with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR)? Super; quite right too. Coming into force in May 2018, GDPR was one of the most important changes in data privacy management in the world in 20 years. And although an EU regulation, many companies are applying GDPR’s terms globally. You should take pride in complying with GDPR, and any other data protection requirements and cybersecurity standards relevant to your business, but you should never become complacent. Cybercriminals don’t relax. You too must be proactive and vigilant about your information security every single day.

5. Watch cryptocurrencies carefully; keep calm about the fact they’re not yet revolutionizing your business. Did you excitedly issue a press release in 2018, announcing you now accept digital currencies as payment? Well done; that’s good PR. But did hardly anyone take you up on the offer? Don’t panic, you’re not alone. As cryptocurrency regulation evolves, so will business and consumer confidence.

6. Don’t believe voice technologies are changing everything…yet. Saying: “Hey, Siri, find me the cheapest private jet flight from Luton to Nice tomorrow” might be a fun game right now but, in the real world, not many people actually want to book flights that way yet and we don’t have the scale to get that investment back in 2019; you need large datasets for that learning to take place. IT makes sense for adding items to the Amazon order, but many travellers still like to talk to real people, especially to confirm their unique needs and preferences. The low level of demand simply doesn’t justify high spending on bizav voice technologies this year.

Here at Avinode Group, us Noders are excited about 2019. Technology continues to be at the forefront of everything we do and every solution we provide to our partners. I’m already looking forward to what I’m going to be talking about at the beginning of 2020!

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