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Airport needs to harness IT

Airport needs to harness IT

Auckland Airport needs to use technology to its full potential, says its new CEO Simon Moutter.

Auckland Airport needs to use technology to its full potential, says its new CEO Simon Moutter. “There is no real excuse from my perspective for airports to be average at ICT. They are not complicated and I’ve dealt with hundreds of business customers who have had far more complicated environments than airports,” says Moutter, former chief operating officer (business) at Telecom New Zealand.

“I want passenger experience lifted substantially and I think the technology is by far the easiest way to address that,” he told the ANZ Airports ICT Forum in Auckland. “Today, you can go and buy systems that would manage and tell us what is happening from when a passenger gets off an aircraft to getting through our airport.”

Moutter says he would also like to apply technology that is used by retailers. “The CEO in a good retailer has live, at his desk, how many boxes are being sold and knows every half-hour what the sales are in every shop. We are just miles off the pace in terms of retail capability and the technology that runs it.”

Having sold IT to many businesses in the past seven years, Moutter says companies need to realise technology is an investment rather than an operating cost. “The process usually is `here’s something we want to build, modify or create’, whereas all CEOs really care about is how they can grow their business. We are on the verge of how software as a service is delivered. Most CEOs at the moment don’t even know what the word means, but it’s an unstoppable force and it brings the global providers right into the backyard of a modestly sized business.”

Air New Zealand CIO Julia Raue, another speaker at the conference, says technology has played a large role in the airline’s mission to improve its domestic and international booking services.

Research conducted in 2005 by the airline revealed Kiwis perceived internal air travel was a luxury. This led to the development of grab a seat, which offers low fares online every day to domestic travelers. “It was an unprecedented success from the beginning and created a vast online community of travel fans. We get lots of feedback from people asking if can we do RSS feeds and publish information to their phone. We don’t do any publishing at the moment, but we may change that,” says Raue.

As well as enabling significant business change, she says IT also saved the company $47 million in operating costs over four years. “We continually look at drumming out costs from our IT operation, but not at the risk of not been able to give the business the performance that it requires.”n Hamish Barwick

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