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Issue of September 2005 
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GoAir: taking off with IT

Jeh Wadia wants to revolutionise the airline industry with his latest venture, GoAir. He shares his vision with Soutiman Das Gupta and Kumar Dawada, and reveals IT’s role in this venture.

A new low-cost airline, GoAir, will start operations in October 2005. The company not only aims to attract regular airline passengers but also people who travel by trains and luxury buses, with air fares as low as one rupee.

“17 million airline seats are sold in a year, and around five million people actually fly as many of them fly more than once. In a nation of one billion, this is a low figure,” declares Managing Director Jeh Wadia. “We are trying to make air travel affordable so that people pay what they do for train or bus travel.”

Wadia insists that these unbelievably low fares are not promotional gimmicks, and explains how GoAir plans to turn a common man’s dream to fly into reality, and the role IT will play in achieving this.

FROM AN INVESTOR'S PERSPECTIVE

Wadia says that he is first a financial investor and then an airline operator. “As an investor I bring in passion, emotions and team spirit. My main focus is to create and improve shareholder value.”

In order to create shareholder value, he has devised a very IT-centric business battle plan. “IT will be an integral part of my business starting from the basic functions and will extend to the specific requirements of every business unit. The first step is to move towards a paperless or near-paperless office. A paperless office works more efficiently, there is less waste, and less time is taken to arrive at a decision,” he says.

He feels that since GoAir is a start-up, achieving a paperless state will not be very difficult. This state can be achieved as soon the company resolves issues with external parties such as travel agents, reservation offices and other business entities which currently communicate using paper.

REMOVE PERSON FROM PROCESS

Wadia firmly believes in removing the person from the process, and believes that IT will help the organisation achieve this. IT ensures that a business becomes process-driven and not person-driven, and protects the company’s intellectual property.

“If the person is taken out of the process then the company becomes stronger in the long run. The company can sustain itself in any circumstance, including when key personnel leave, because key information does not leave with them,” Wadia explains.

Thus, knowledge gained by a person who is part of the organisation rests with the organisation and not with the person.

PERISHABLE GOODS

A well-configured and customised yield management solution can factor information such as current booking levels, probabilities of reservations and cancellations, and historical patterns to devise a strategy for optimum pricing

Wadia also wants to use IT to create business-specific solutions that will allow executives to take quality decisions in real time.

In an airline, seats are a perishable commodity. If they are not sold, revenue is lost forever. Wadia maintains that an airline can sell seats to its optimum capacity by making intelligent use of IT. A well-configured and customised yield management solution can factor information such as current booking levels, probabilities of reservations and cancellations, and historical patterns to devise a strategy for optimum pricing.

“With this information available in real time, a company can take decisions to lower or raise prices, and reduce the time taken for seats to be sold. It is virtually impossible to do so manually, and thus IT will play a critical role,” says Wadia.

But the man is not happy with the solutions available in the market. GoAir will therefore work with vendors to customise their existing solutions and fill in the performance gaps. Care will be taken to ensure that the intellectual property remains with GoAir.

KNOWLEDGE WITH IT

Wadia wants to deploy IT infrastructure that will capture information from the organisation and turn it into knowledge for the benefit of customers and the business.

For instance, when a customer calls the company for a query or a problem, the system should be able to analyse the nature of the problem from the first few exchanges of information. Based on this learning, the system should be able to automatically advise and suggest possible solutions to the business executives. This solution can then be shared by others in the department so that the organisation is better prepared the next time a similar situation arises.

In the case of off-site problems, Wadia feels that systems should be able to anticipate problems, tell support personnel how to solve problems when they occur, and even advise staff on easiest route to reach the solution. The aim is to improve efficiency and productivity. In this way, IT is a tool that provides ‘preventive’ capabilities, rather than simply ‘curative’ properties.

CUTTING COSTS

Although ticket prices will be very low, Wadia believes that his company will be able to operate successfully, recover costs, pay salaries, and ensure proper maintenance of aircraft.

According to him, e-ticketing is a key area that will help save costs. The use of e-tickets will give the organisation a real-time picture of ticket sales, and help to make strategic decisions to ensure that optimally-priced tickets are sold at any point of time.

TO THE CIO

Wadia refuses to be drawn into a discussion about what other airlines are doing wrong as far as their IT strategy is concerned. He suggests, however, that CIOs should not have a cost-centric focus. “Use IT for three benefits—faster decisions, reduction of waste, and lessening of time. If these three things are achieved, cost savings will follow,” is his advice.

soutimand@networkmagazineindia.com

kumard@networkmagazineindia.com

 
     
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