Social Collaboration in the Cloud: How a Hectic Airport Went Mobile

social analytics, mobile, cloud, DFW airport

“If you aren’t using social and mobile for your business, you’ve fallen behind,” said the chief information officer at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Here’s how DFW, one of the nation’s busiest airports, combined social collaboration and mobile in a cloud-based deployment to improve customer service and increase business productivity.

Name of Organization: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Industry: Transportation, Government

Location: Dallas, Texas, USA

Business Opportunity or Challenge Encountered

Anyone visiting or changing flights at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) has experienced what is essentially a city in its own right, complete with an extensive transportation system that connects its far-flung terminals and related facilities. The world’s fourth busiest airport has 1,800 flights per day and serves 60 million customers a year. DFW’s total facility covers roughly 27 square miles, making it larger than New York’s Manhattan Island.

Given that airport executives and employees need to constantly be on the go and traverse these 27 square miles on a daily basis, getting the right information out to those who needed it proved to be time-consuming and also delayed decision-making. Essentially, airport executives wanted to do away with paper-based processes that required the physical transportation of forms and files across the facility.

“I needed a way to easily get information throughout multiple areas within our day-to-day operations,” said William Flowers, chief information officer and vice president at DFW. ”Our existing processes were limited in the information collected and created delays in turning process into business action to best serve our customers.”

 DFW executives needed information in real time. Since they do a lot of traveling across the airport’s facilities, they had to wait to get back to their desk to complete work tasks. Given the nature of the industry, employees across the airport needed a way to be more mobile in their work habits, allowing work to take place on any device at any time.

How This Business Opportunity or Challenge Was Met

To address this need for real-time information sharing, DFW turned to the cloud. The airport deployed Appian Cloud as a platform to develop customized applications to suit unique business needs across the airport.

While cloud delivery would reduce IT spending, the decision to use a cloud-based platform had more to do with speeding the time-to-business-outcome for their business-process management program, according to Flowers. The airport moved to the cloud “because it allowed us to do things faster,” he said. “We needed to ensure a quick return on investment and cloud allowed us to achieve process efficiencies and make faster, quicker decisions.” The result was a single interface, accessible to executives and employees via mobile devices or desktop computers.

Flowers recognized how the blend of work and technology were changing, and he created an acronym that acknowledged that change: “SCAM,” short for “Social collaboration, Customer service through the cloud, Analytics, and Mobility. He told his staff that every new project had to include at least two of the letters in the acronym or he would reject it. “Our focus was all about the customer experience and customer satisfaction,” Flowers said. “By using SCAM it allows us to keep the focus on the customer, whether for internal or external initiatives.”

Flowers expressed that when it comes to social, a lot of news alerts about airport happenings would filter through Twitter and Facebook. DFW wanted to take the instant access to news from social engines and apply it to process improvements at the airport. “The key to every one of our customers is making them more mobile, more flexible,” said Flowers. “Customer service is the driving force in our overall efforts. If you aren’t using social and mobile for your business, you’ve fallen behind.”

DFW has been focusing on the flow of real-time information for several years now. In 2013, the airport launched its official mobile app for smartphones, giving customers the latest information and updates about flights, parking, shops, restaurants and airport services at their fingertips. The mobile app’s push notification feature is a first for airport-developed apps, notifying passengers who request information about changes to flight details. The app contains flight information and tracking, flight and gate updates with alert push notifications, and a feature called “within five minutes of my gate,” which highlights restaurants and shopping options located nearest to traveling customers.

Measurable/Quantifiable and “Soft” Benefits from This Initiative

The cloud implementation gives DFW greater agility in its operations, while native mobile apps give employees better access to enterprise processes and data. The social interface built with Appian enables employees across all DFW departments “to have instant access to key information pertaining to business decisions and customer needs,” says Flowers. Blending data access, mobility, and social capabilities with real work processes allows DFW employees to increase business productivity despite the fast-paced work environment of one of the US’s busiest airports.

DFW has connected more than 2,000 employees across all staff levels with agile access to data, processes, and social collaboration. DFW rolled out 18 process applications airport-wide in its first nine months of use.

Staff across all departments are able to conduct a number of work actions on mobile devices, including terminal mangers assisting passengers on terminal floors. In additional to modernizing the terminal customer experience, the cloud implementation monitors concessionaire cleanliness inspections, airplane maintenance tracking and safety reporting, HR functions, and internal departmental functions. An additional capability planned for the near future will be enabling passengers be able to order concessions on their mobile device while in the terminal.

(Sources: Appian, DFW)

Want more? Check out our most-read content:

Goodbye Don Draper, Hello Big Data: An EMA Report on Modern Analytics
Research from Gartner: Real-Time Analytics with the Internet of Things
Becoming an ‘Always On’ Smart Business
Webinar Replay: Better Business Insight with Real-Time Streaming Analysis

Liked this article? Share it with your colleagues using the links below!

Leave a Reply