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A flyaway partnership: how Ryanair is taking off in the digital age

13 Jan 2020
Ben Elms

Ben Elms

VGE Director, Vodafone Business

John Hurley

John Hurley

Chief Technology Officer, Ryanair

Technology today is enabling industries to offer new services and streamline their operations,

We often hear about the transformation of financial services and manufacturing, but there are many other industries passing on these benefits on to their customers.

Step forward, aerospace.

Ryanair recently chose Vodafone Business as their technology communications partner, with the mission to improve the experience of over 10 million passengers as they choose from more than 200 destinations.

I sat down with John Hurley, Chief Technology Officer, to discuss how this updated contract will help Ryanair to reach new heights.

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Ben: How important is customer experience as a differentiator in airline travel, and does digital play a role?

John: I think my colleague Kenny [Jacobs, Chief Marketing Officer] will agree that customer experience is not the key differentiator in short haul. The reality is people are more interested in the practical details: things like price, route choice and reliability.

As you can imagine, access to information is really important to passengers. But so are those core digital tasks – things like booking, paying, and check-in. Improving these services makes life easier for our customers.

Happy employees are another important part of customer experience. Will this partnership also benefit Ryanair’s employees?

The new contract with Vodafone will enable us to provide higher level of services to all our connected entities. This will empower our users to take advantage of newer technology including Office365 and Audio and video conferencing.

The new contract will also enable higher data allowances for our IoT estate, which will lead to the faster turnaround of aircraft and better on-time performance for customers.

Why is an agile IT infrastructure important for airlines particularly?

Ryanair’s business model requires the ability to make fast additions, moves, and changes to the network. New routes or changes to existing routes are a weekly occurrence, so we must be able to change quickly to accommodate them. Then there are our marketing initiatives, which require changes on our customer-facing web platform in a very agile manner – the site sees 1 billion visitors a year.

With SD-WAN [software defined wide area networks], we can talk in minutes and hours rather than weeks and months for these changes.

How is the internet of things (IoT) transforming airlines?

Ryanair has a large estate of IoT devices in daily use by pilots and cabin crew, and this will naturally grow with the airline. There are also other areas under investigation, which could see an explosion in growth for IoT in Ryanair – things like parts tracking, for example.

For now, it is about connecting our people with the information they need to deliver a great customer service and meet the needs of our passengers.

Will the length of this partnership with Ryanair be particularly beneficial?

Yes, this longer-term relationship gives us stability. The network underpins all other services that IT support for the airline group and therefore it is important that we have a known, defined structure to build upon. With this stability we can start to incorporate more technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, into our operations.

Above all else, our job is to get people to their destination on time – this means using the right partner and technology for the job. We believe that Vodafone Business gives us that.

Aerospace is not the only industry seeing the benefits of new technologies– learn how Donaldson Inc used IoT to open new revenue streams here.

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