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Lufthansa CIO Dr Roland Schütz describes the airline's digital transformation

Thomas Macaulay | April 4, 2017
The CIO of the largest aviation group in the world explains how he uses technology to unlocked new revenue streams.

airplane in the sky
Credit: Graphicstock

The world's largest airline and is currently undergoing the most impactful restructuring in its 60-year history. Lufthansa Group employs more than 120,000 staff and has numerous revenues and complex business needs requiring a multifaceted strategy, as its CIO and Executive VP Dr. Roland Schütz told CIO UK.

"I don't like this term of two-speed approach Gartner is using because in truth you always have multi-speed," says Schütz about Bimodal IT. "You are living in a complex environment and in some areas you can move more aggressively and try out things, and in others, for example, those which are more safety-relevant, you are moving slowly."

Replacing the decades-old computers onboard aircraft that are still reliable, for example, may pose more of a risk to safety than maintaining them would. Other aspects of the business must be updated more quickly to ensure the company remains ahead of the curve.

Schütz wants to enhance the company's digitisation through automatisation, by combining emerging artificial intelligence capabilities with the airline's existing troves of data. The approach can be used in applications such as predicting ticket prices and making individual offers to customers based on their personalised profiles.

"When it comes to flying we are running a complex network of aircraft circling around the globe and we have other conditions - an airport is closed or somebody's going on strike - and of course this network gets disturbed and has to recover," says Schütz.

"This can be done with artificial intelligence as well, or we can predict where we need spare parts for our aircraft and things like that.

"We have collected a lot of data, we've provided the infrastructure, but now we are slowly getting to the stage of harvesting it and implementing smart things and that makes me really excited what we can get out of it.

"I think that's often overlooked, that you have extensive and lengthy preparation to do which can last years and years before you can really exploit the new technologies. Now I think we've reached a certain stage where we can really draw benefit out of it, and that's what we are focusing on."

 

Digital transformation

Schütz joined the company as Chief Operating Officer of Lufthansa Systems in 2005. He became CIO of Lufthansa Group Airlines in 2016 following stints in the same role at Lufthansa Cargo and Lufthansa Passage.

He offered his advice on how airlines can embrace digital transformation in the recent ISG whitepaper, Perspectives from the Pioneers, a series of 12 pieces by CxOs from different industries exploring the challenges they face in their roles today.

 

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