By Akira Mitsumasu, VP of Marketing & Strategy- Asia & Oceania Region, Japan Airlines
With ever advancing data analytics and deep learning capabilities, airlines are now increasingly improving the ways in which they deliver personalized customer experience. Not only it is possible now to know who the customer is, what is his or her purchase behaviour and likely preferences, but given a wide repertoire of value offerings, it is also possible from myriads of option and combination to recommend, customize and deliver optimal customer experiences. At the beginning of this new year, and at the dawn of our progressive digitized world, it may be appropriate to speculate a little about what the next disruptive innovation in customer experience could be. With so much R&D going on and new technologies under development, I think I would, be slightly conservative here, not venture to guess what the next big IT or IoT thing is going to be. Rather I would like to posit-even with today’s existing technology, which is quite advanced as it is that the next disruption innovation will come from a concoction of capabilities that constitute a value creation or co-creation network, and that these networks will compete against each other in ways we have not seen before.
As businesses today become increasingly conscious of their roles with in their respective ecosystem, such as within a certain industry, region and scope, and as they become also more proactively engaged in adjusting the roles of players within the ecosystem so as to position, survive and thrive, innovation will come not just in the form of new technologies, but also in the ways in which capabilities collaborate to create nexus of unique competencies.From an airline perspective, bringing people from point A to point B, and responding to their unique travel needs is central to but not the only part of customer experience. Indeed more and more airlines today are innovating and building up their repertoire of ancillaries not just because they provide a good source of additional revenue, but more importantly because these personalisable and customizable choices (hence value), and the ability to deliver them can become unique and inimitable core competency of airlines. So what is disruptively new about this? The answer, in my view, lies in the direction in which airlines continue to innovate in customer experience. With new technologies, the traveling part from point A to B will continue to evolve, perhaps adding along its way numerous new and unprecedented delightful wow factors. But I should like to think that more innovative customer experiences will come from outside the conventional A to B, and this is when airlines start to zoom out of the narrow customer journey to incorporate a wider one, one that include things such as purpose and meaning. Seen in this light, a hotel product is no longer just a room, and an airline product is no longer just a seat. When we zoom out of this narrow definition, which some players may for a while still choose to self-impose, the product can be anything from an experiential discovery to a medical tour where an airline seat or a hotel room is just a module that makes up the entire journey. Products that have the right combination of modules, and brands that are capable of delivering them through their nexus of capabilities, will hence become more relevant to the traveller. As more players compete and innovate in this realm, this is where the next disruption could possibly come from.