Project: Integrated Applications Infrastructure
Business goal: To reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction by driving interaction through a set of integrated online applications.
Project partner: BEA Systems
Award sponsor: Atlantic Global
British Airways has streamlined customers' online interaction, while dramatically cutting its costs through the introduction of an integrated ecommerce application infrastructure. As a result, almost one third of BA's 27 million customers now use ba.com to book flights or manage their reservations and, at peak periods, 80% of the airline's UK bookings are handled over the web.
In recent years competition in the airline industry has been fierce: the emergence of ‘no frills' airlines and a rapid drop in passenger numbers transformed the industry. In response, BA adopted a radical new strategy: Customer Enabled BA. IT was to play a fundamental role in this new strategy; BA needed to move customer interactions online, in order to streamline processes and simultaneously improve service. This meant ensuring that dealing with ba.com was so easy that customers would choose to serve themselves.
But for this vision to become reality, BA had to integrate multiple back-end systems, including its product and fare information, multiple customer databases, the Amadeus global airline reservation system and the BA kiosk/desk check-in systems. The system also needed to draw on multiple other real-time data feeds, including fares and availability, content management systems and session data.
As the integration broker for these various components, the ba.com site uses BEA Systems' WebLogic Server. The result is a web site that has won praise for its high levels of interactivity and ease of use. And the customer numbers reflect this: 31% of all customers use ba.com to service their booking prior to arriving at the airport, compared to 19% just 20 months ago.
As well as the core task of flight booking, the site enables customers to review their flight schedules, compare upgrade costs, change seat allocations, specify dietary requirements, enter details required by US immigration and check-in within 24 hours of departure. More recently, the application suite has been expanded to enable customers on some routes to print their own boarding cards prior to travel.
The website is now the airline's primary sales channel and is credited with saving the company around £100 million each year – and largely by leveraging a legacy infrastructure.