In preparation for 2020, Connected Aviation Today is gathering insights from various thought leaders across the aviation industry about major 2019 milestones and predictions for the year to come. As part of this series, we recently spoke with SmartSuite enterprise product manager Mel Jordan and Alex Peirce, SmartSuite product manager, both of Brock Solutions, on bag tracking trends in the aviation ecosystem. Brock Solutions is an engineering solutions and professional services company specializing in the design, build and implementation of real-time solutions for broad based industrial/manufacturing and transportation/logistics organizations globally.
In our conversation with Jordan and Peirce, we covered major industry milestones for 2019 like the continued implementation of IATA Resolution 753, the increasing influence of biometrics on the aviation ecosystem, and how bag tracking has been directly impacted. We also spoke with them about predictions for 2020, specifically about opportunities for growth and technology adoption trends.
Looking Back on 2019
When considering key milestones during 2019, Peirce spoke to IATA’s resolution to support the global deployment of RFID for bag tracking, announced this year at their Annual Global Meeting. “Airline executives understand the importance of this resolution and how it impacts all of the players in the aviation ecosystem,” stated Peirce. “That said, there will be several hurdles to overcome with getting an initiative like that fully implemented.”
Peirce went on to explain the complications that arise when integrating new technology with legacy systems and bringing together disparate, fragmented components of the industry. “Moving forward, we have to build systems that are more flexible and futureproof,” he said. “This means we have to be picky about selecting the right —not just the newest —technology for these systems.”
Regarding challenges, Jordan added that baggage and bag tracking in general tends to lag in evolution and improvement, with other areas that are more directly related to passenger experience seen more as a priority. “But starting this year, that seems to be changing. We are finally starting to see strong traction around baggage and IATA Resolution 753 was a catalyst for that,” Jordan stated.
“Baggage has always been seen as a source of revenue with its ancillary fees, but now it’s being prioritized and it’s potential in affecting the customer journey is becoming more visible,” Peirce added. “The technology and expectations are there for baggage to be treated more carefully, and if today’s passengers are dissatisfied with how it’s being handled by airlines, they’ll have no qualms seeking out third party solutions.”
Overall, both Peirce and Jordan saw 2019 as a year that airlines and airports are starting to pivot towards more comprehensive baggage tracking solutions, with a long road ahead.
Looking Ahead into 2020
Looking forward, Peirce and Jordan spoke at length about the great potential for growth in the aviation ecosystem, especially in collaboration. “Right now, customers are restricted to whatever services are offered in one specific airline app,” said Jordan. “I definitely think there is an opportunity to work across airlines and really enhance the passenger journey in the process.”
“There is also a huge opportunity for leveraging valuable data captured throughout the ecosystem,” noted Peirce. “Those data insights directly affect passengers, but also offer invaluable knowledge for other parties in the ecosystem. Being able to understand where more resources are needed in real-time benefits everyone.”
When asked about the technology that will help spur this growth, Peirce pointed to technology like RFID baggage tags and the ability to both create and capture more data. From there the adoption of cloud and AI will help make that data actionable.
Jordan explained the importance of streamlining processes and technology’s role in making that happen. “New technology like AI and cloud help in this streamlining process immensely, especially for airports that don’t have the budget or space for physical expansion,” she said.
So what will the future hold for 2020? “2020 will be the year of biometrics,” said Peirce. “We are really starting to see more widespread adoption, and that trend will definitely continue in 2020. I think 2021 will more likely be a bigger year for baggage.”
“I think 2020 will be the year of customer-driven information,” stated Jordan. “With more customers being able to track every part of their journey, especially their bags, their role in the aviation ecosystem is going to grow markedly over the next year.”