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Cloud leads the connected travel evolution

Two things that essentially define the travel industry operations are its exponential growth and technological change. In today’s industry, proliferation of devices, rise of the connected traveller and an on-demand environment has upped the pressure on organizations to be nimble, enhance their productivity and reduce costs. Business-wise, this means updating infrastructures to drive productivity and improve processes, so internal and external stakeholders can have seamless access to their services and data anytime, anywhere.  Seasonal volumes, irregular flight operations and newer destinations mean Travel cannot afford to be lax on technology.

Take for instance the connected traveller who expects organizations to provide reliable and scalable support to a traveller’s digital presence from search, booking to in-destination travel. Recently studies point that approx. 40% of travellers use mobile devices for searching and also booking travel. Organizations seem to be playing catch up with the expectations for “on-demand” information and service, while driving innovative touch-points that function seamlessly.  To be able to service these needs quickly and efficiently, begets a scalable, integrated and smart system, making cloud a strong candidate with operational and cost flexibility. Cloud enables a scalable infrastructure, for use on pay-per-use and an on-demand basis reducing investments in infrastructure and maintenance costs.

Some of the key Challenges faced by Travel:
• Legacy and modern integration
• Managing seasonal workloads
• Application rationalization
• Hardware updates & migrations
• Data protection
• Reduction in infrastructure cost

Cloud enables a scalable infrastructure, for use on pay-per-use and an on-demand basis reducing investments in infrastructure and maintenance costs. Cloud computing is therefore gaining prominence as a potential solution to help shift the balance from capital expenditure on infrastructure to operating expenditure on maintenance and support due to its elasticity, scalability and virtually instant availability.

This is seen in the growing shift from a ‘build’ to a ‘consume’ model for IT processes and operations workload, especially as digital technology front-ends business models. From reaching out to 3rd party consultants or employing them to create and implement cloud internally, travel is quickly a leading consumer of cloud services. It’s a strategic tool for CIOs and CXOs in meeting the 4 key business efficiencies – reduced cost, time-to-market, scalability and innovation; even as compliance and security remain a top concern. And invested decisions have shifted from the ‘why’ to the ‘how’?

But as with any shift, come questions and concerns. How can one maximize cloud benefits and reduce costs? How can Travel implement cloud services? What type of cloud solutions (private or public or hybrid) is most beneficial for my company?  Can innovative services be better managed into the cloud? How can the digital infrastructure, devices and resources work seamlessly? 

Let’s try and answer the same.

Moving costs into an opex structure: Cloud can help all businesses and cost points with their multiple functional models. From replacing capex costs to opex costs, major capital IT investments can be controlled and better employed when you align with the business requirements. Cloud’s on-premise pay as you use model enables built-in cloud-based services to be efficiently used while keeping costs at a minimum.  Travel providers need to discuss the right cloud deployment that will be most beneficial to them and their existing systems.

Scalability: Today’s exponential growth and the connected traveller ecosystem mean organizations need to be quick in capturing omni-channel opportunities, supported by operational infrastructure that is ready to for all situations. A cloud based solution can be easily implemented to enable global teams in the deployment of GTM strategies, rapidly scaling large information, process and services in a seamless fashion.
Both scalability and cost remain instrumental in cloud’s adoption by the Travel industry.

Enabling captive outsourcing: Organizations keenly plan for new technologies but a lack of a domain specific talent often incurs high costs of managing. Many turn to outsourcing as a smarter option for managing internal IT workforce. In this case, the 3rd party provider brings in domain knowledge, skilled workforce capabilities and reduced costs of training and time to market. A cloud plays a central role in delivering a smooth transition to outsource such operations to a competent 3rd party provider.

Innovation: New technologies coupled with the proliferation of devices are transforming customer experience and constantly challenging travel organizations to innovate. As such cloud technologies can play a key role in enhancing this. Cloud becomes a strategic investment, as it reduces cost and effort of an in-house infrastructure.  Additionally, mobile apps are now a norm with airlines, OTAs and even internal apps, help bridge the human engagement. This is completely powered by the cloud. Let’s take Utrip for example, it combines cloud with big data analytics to produce personalized travel itineraries based on a user’s interests. Utrip further integrates content from with social networks and other sources to create personalized itineraries. Thanks for cloud, passengers can access sites, apps, booking tools from any location, any time as long as they have internet access. For organizations where the core competency is the end-to-end customer experience, cloud is significant investment and opportunity is managing tools, data and competencies.

Travel technology companies like IGT help collaboratively assess the current IT environment with clients and identify the right cloud services to optimize efficiency, scalability, flexibility and agility. It strategically plans recommendations to optimize cloud’s deployment, costings and management for short and long term goals of the organization and make around these business needs. Innovation in mobility and omni-channel flexibility is also taken into consideration when building a cloud infrastructure.

This involves discussions with the clients’ internal IT team to collaboratively assess the current IT environment and look for methods to optimize efficiency, scalability, flexibility and agility. The aim is to identify the pain areas and specific needs of the customer keeping in mind both the short and long term goals of the organization and make recommendations around these business needs.

As technology undergoes a sea of change expanding rapidly and with apps, wearables, advanced analytics and augmented reality, one can expect that the travel industry will also experience more revolutionary changes in the next few years.

About the Author:
Renee Kishore is digital marketing specialist, and a published author. A researcher and writer of change tactics and technologies in travel and other verticals, she frequently posts across the digital ecosystem. With 8-yrs of experience in communications and marketing, Renee has a passion for discussions and can be reached at: renee.kishore@igt.in

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