Why Airports Need to Radically Rethink IT

By Jean Luc Devisscher
30th August, 2021

For years, airports have been taken hostage by large corporations urging airports’ IT Managers to take ten-year commitments and invest considerable amounts in CapEx spend.

Is this, in today’s day and age, still a normal practice?

If you surf the web, you will find a great deal of software solutions that either charge a one-off premium or a fixed amount per month, either volume-based or license-based. Of course, airport operations are not fully comparable to what some small and medium-sized enterprises can do but they should never be considered a cash cow for IT providers that have been able to sell to complex and non-proprietary IT systems for too long.

Flexibility, transparency and predictability are key. As an individual, you can only manage your household budget if you know what to expect in the coming months; some big expenses might come unannounced but they will never be the rule, rather the exception. Building a roof is one thing but having to pay nearly the value of a roof to make further changes to it would be considered unacceptable.

The same applies to IT. You want to know exactly what you pay, what will influence this rate and what it will cost to make further changes. Hence, selecting any provider for any solution means understanding what he or she will deliver and what changes or adaptations will cost.

We spoke before about predictability but that is how we see IT solutions at airports. Any solution to be implemented will have a cost per movement or per user, every change can be delivered within a previously defined scope and be done in a matter of days or weeks (not months) and becomes standard for all users while being fully transparent in terms of cost.

The advantage for relative newcomers to the airport operations market is that they do not need to recuperate the massive investments – mostly done in another decade – over a big number of customers. This is what many airports have been confronted with, whether they buy AODB, FIDS, A-CDM or any other airport management solution. It is often very complex to make it work so external consultants need to be brought in, require a lot of support from the airport stakeholders and can take years to be set up.

Hence, seven golden tips for airport IT Managers before you implement any new solution at the airport:

  • Understand exactly what you want to achieve with the implementation of a solution, who are the stakeholders (and get them all onboard) and what the process of what you want to measure looks like
  • Appoint an internal project manager that has the buy-in of all stakeholders
  • Involve key stakeholders from the start to determine what airport operations solution makes most sense and establish a clear checklist of what you want to obtain from the start
  • Make a shortlist of potential partners and start discussions with them, make sure they address your challenges and get assurance on how easily (and fast) these can be addressed and updated
  • Go for the most flexible solution in terms of how fast the system reflects what you want it to reflect, implementation time and predictability in terms of budgeting
  • Do not give in because systems cannot address parts of your needs; systems need to adapt to your needs, not vice versa
  • Do not be reluctant to try new solutions, never go for more of the same but for what you see best addresses your expectations.

The world is changing fast, new players have started in the airport arena, offering airports a wider choice of solutions. What has been made available since long for the non-aviation business has now also reached airports, airlines and ground handlers.

Time to make the right decision... time to go for full flexibility on all levels. Want to talk airport operations made easy? Let’s talk! Contact us here.