It may be a cliché and date back to Heraclitus (around 535-475 BC), but the travel business knows better than most that the only thing that is constant is change. In this most dynamic of sectors, familiar challenges always persist: increased demand for travel services, rising customer expectations, new markets, shifting business models and cycles of innovation that just get quicker each year. This means we continually need to think how we can reduce inefficiency, and, more importantly, how we can enhance our effectiveness. And this is where lean thinking comes in.
Lean thinking is about cutting waste and removing inefficiency, whilst in turn increasing effectiveness and customer value. Within global operations at Amadeus, we have recognised that lean thinking involves a shift in management style: it’s no longer about directing people, as in a classic command-and-control production model, but rather about nurturing proactivity and reactivity to leverage the organisation’s brainpower.
At Amadeus we have already been using a lean approach in our global IT operations to further strengthen our leadership position in delivering and deploying the innovative solutions used by some of the world’s largest travel brands and travel businesses need to adopt lean thinking now – or risk being left behind.
It is in this spirit that we’ve commissioned a new report by the renowned innovation forecaster James Woudhuysen entitled Cleared for take-off: Strategies in Lean IT, and how they’re relevant to the travel business.
The report examines the principles and origins of lean and shows how they can be applied to IT and operations within the travel industry. It also urges travel businesses to adopt and apply the principles of ‘lean’ thinking across IT and operations, in order to create an industry that can better detect, understand and respond to customers’ increasingly complex and changing needs. By embracing lean, travel companies can enjoy rapid rates of new service and app development, earn more revenues from market niches, and better personalise their offers to the needs of customers as individuals. Adopting lean thinking also means basing drives for effectiveness on objective data; understanding the root conditions of problems; giving decision-making power to the people who actually execute IT processes, and proactively interpreting customer data so as to improve customer value.
While we are fervent advocates of lean thinking, we do not claim to have all the answers. That’s why we have commissioned this paper: to shed light on to what we believe is an important approach to managing global operations – the interconnected systems, processes and insights that underpin the global travel sector and enable the latest innovations to be deployed across all channels.