Can the aviation industry take flight with generative AI?

A leading aviation player and Implement Consulting Group

6 February 2024

Exploring how a prominent aviation company leveraged generative AI to transform customer experience and improve operational efficiency.

The aviation industry, characterised by its high-stakes environment and the need for impeccable customer service, is constantly seeking innovation to stay ahead of competitors. Following the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on aviation, the company was dealing with increasing customer expectations due to the changing preferences of new and different travellers and the need for increased efficiency due to rising interest rates and a drop-off in the number of travellers that has still not recovered to pre-COVID levels

The company recognised an opportunity to harness the power of generative AI to elevate their performance and customer experience. With the dual objectives of improving workflow efficiency and providing exceptional customer engagement, the company embarked on a strategic journey to integrate generative AI into its core operations. The vision was not only to improve existing processes but also to set new standards for the aviation industry.

Designing a human-centric approach to generative AI

The company took a strategic and methodical approach, starting with a definition of the company’s overarching ambitions and potential focus areas for generative AI applications. They then embarked on testing generative AI-driven use cases, in particular how people with expertise in a field combined with knowledge of generative AI can create lasting impact and the greatest benefits. Finally, the company sought to develop tools for both employee support and customer interaction to mitigate risk and gain valuable insights into how generative AI products are developed.

A key part of the company’s learning and exploration of generative AI was the identification, testing and roll-out of use cases, particularly in the commercial operations areas. One use case saw a 29-fold acceleration in process execution combined with an increase in quality. In general, the use cases that involved large amounts of human labour and the need for regular alignment saw the greatest benefits, which were integrated into the company’s learning and guided future generative AI use case exploration.

The project also developed an internal tool similar to ChatGPT for employee use, adding an extra layer of security while improving decision-making and productivity. Simultaneously, a customer-facing AI tool was developed to provide comprehensive travel assistance, from practical information to personalised recommendations.

A key component of this initiative was the incorporation of advanced retrieval augmented generation technology, a way of retrieving knowledge and merging it with large language models to establish a sophisticated knowledge base, improving the accessibility and utility of information across the organisation.

Creating lasting competitive advantage with generative AI

After testing use cases and developing tools, a generative AI strategy was formulated, which placed particular emphasis on training employees, improving skills and exploring innovative AI applications across functional teams in a structured way with a focus on both internal and customer-facing processes. Especially how to activate employees to create AI-enhanced people became a central part of the company’s approach to scaling the use of generative AI.

The generative AI strategy culminated in tangible financial and operational improvements. Notably, a 10% increase in EBITDA was identified, fuelled by a 20% rise in employee productivity and enriched customer experiences. The strategic integration of generative AI has not only strengthened the company’s internal capabilities but has also established a robust foundation for ongoing technological advancement and transformation.

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