Vueling CIO: How to approach new technology

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Wearables, internet of things, ubicomp. These are words for which we still need definitions. It’s all new stuff. Very soon, however, it will be just normal stuff. This is how Samuel Lacarta, Vueling CIO, opened his presentation. The question is – are we, as an industry, prepared for the normal stuff? Well, Vueling at least is. And here’s the advice from the CIO how you can be too:

Don’t expect RoI, yet, just be ready to test something new

Make innovation part of the DNA. This means make everybody in the airline responsible for innovation. Marketing is a very important department as they hold a lot of expertise about customer needs. IT, on the other hand, is the technology front-runner. Involve all, but don’t concentrate innovation effort in one team. If you do this, everybody else will not be innovating. A lot of bad ideas will come out first, but over time this will improve.

Adopt a flexible IT process

Make sure you can do quick tests and learn from usage. Lean Startup is a good approach here. Using it Vueling managed to release its Sony smartwatch boarding pass app in just 8 days. The process they followed – brainstorm, build a quick prototype and go straight to the airport for field tests. The IT team didn’t ask anybody, didn’t train anybody – they just tested it themselves.

Make use of partnerships

Last but not least, make sure you are not innovating on your own. Start with building APIs. Then share the API specs with third party developers and gain speed. Connect also with companies, who have non-aviation expertise. Like Vueling did with Sony for the smartwatch boarding pass app. Find your synergies.

To the question “What’s coming next?”, Samuel replied “I don’t know. Maybe – inhouse geo-localisation, maybe biomechanics. I really don’t know, but I know I’m ready to test it!” Are you?

About the author: Elina Zheleva is an Independent Passenger Experience Expert and a vivid supporter of Human-Centered Design. She is the editor and curator of Airport Hub & Passenger eXperience. Her new initiative is – an event  for aviation experts and air travel startups. Previously she has worked in the European Aviation Safety Agency taking various roles in planning and controlling.

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