Is Airline IT really giving you competitive advantage?

Over the years suppliers and vendors have promised many things from IT, including cost reduction, increased efficiency, improved effectiveness and many other benefits. But how many new communication and IT systems actually give you real competitive advantage? And how long is it before your competitor also has the same IT system?

I hear you say, “what about the Internet”? “What about the PC”, ” What about the ink jet printer”. It’s a bit like the Life of Brian – “What did the Romans ever do for us”? To me these inventions add productivity rather than real competitive advantage, but we keep telling ourselves the give us individual competitive advantages – well do they?

Increasingly clients are asking for modifications and alterations to the standard IT – off the shelf systems, extending implementation times and potentially injecting project delays. But is all this effort worth it? Will requesting a specialized, and probably high cost IT feature actually deliver the business benefits you as an organisation believe it should?

Simpler, low cost applications with high degrees of functionality are being developed everyday. These come from small and very agile companies, but don’t have much of a brand in the market. However most if not all of us are reluctant to take a chance with these applications. We fall back on the traditional main stream recognized vendors. Typically we will ask for new features to be added, as the product doesn’t fit our exact needs. Could we do without these new features? Possibly – but we’ve convinced ourselves that it is essential for our business.

But what about the impact on the vendor themselves. New features requested by clients are happily sold by the eager sales department, but never properly communicated to the product or operations departments. With new features being requested by many clients, the operational support costs rise and operational complexity also increases. This in turn leads to individual specialisation by operational teams, potentially leading to challenging support problems when they occur.

Is all this complexity really improving or simplifying your business or are you buying the ‘badge’ because we fail to grasp what’s really needed?

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