Aircraft: Another End Point in a Complicated Network

Ken Green, CIO, NetJets
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Ken Green, CIO, NetJets

Ken Green, CIO, NetJets

The role of CIO at NetJets has changed significantly over the past several years. The combination of a complex service-oriented private aviation business and a rapidly changing technology landscape bring unique opportunities and challenges. Some of our current areas of focus include:

• Capitalizing on the “consumerization” of technology to enrich our customer experience
• Delivering useful, timely, and accurate information to pilots and flight attendants via mobile devices so they can provide an exceptional customer experience
• Managing, protecting, and utilizing our data assets as we evolve and remove dependencies on legacy technology
• Our technology department has progressed from an adjunct organization that took orders from operational business areas to a fully integrated partner that delivers business solutions. This transformation has required the entire IT organization to adapt to our processes, culture, and leadership

"Focus on being less dependent on specific devices, carriers, and manufacturers, while still delivering quality applications to employees"

Customer Experience

We continue to innovate by using technology to provide our customers with additional channels to interact with NetJets. Doing this effectively requires a collaborative effort between multiple NetJets departments to ensure that customer-facing applications are designed to deliver the NetJets brand experience.

NetJets provides a best-in-class service to people who are traveling, so the ability to access our apps anywhere is critical, including onboard the aircraft. We want our customers to be able to operate at 40,000 feet the same way they do on the ground. As a result, we have had to extend functions that have traditionally been available only in-house, to be accessible through the internet and on mobile devices – and do so with the customer’s experience in mind. We have also had to find partners who can bring connectivity to the aircraft and work with us to deliver service that is consistent with the NetJets experience. Looking ahead, the lines between onboard technology and traditional applications are becoming blurred. Today, an aircraft can be just another end point in a complicated network.

Mobile Workforce

With over 700 aircraft worldwide, NetJets crewmembers are spread out all over the world. Providing the NetJets service, the best in the industry, requires timely, accurate, and consistent information be provided to our team members who are delivering the service. We have always relied on mobile devices for this purpose, but changes in the mobile space and networks have enabled us to deliver this information in a more easily consumable fashion. We are building custom apps and utilizing commercial apps with increased functionality. Our crewmembers rely heavily on their mobile devices for information related to customer trips, chart data, and tools for their own travel. As we continue to invest in these technologies, we have become more sophisticated in our mobile device management and provisioning. In addition, we have developed our strategy to address the challenges of a rapidly changing mobile landscape. We have focused on being less dependent on specific devices, carriers, and manufacturers, while still delivering quality applications to our employees.

Data Management

Like many businesses, at NetJets, data is an essential and valuable asset. Legacy systems were not necessarily designed with that in mind, making it difficult and expensive to utilize our information effectively. In the last few years we have shifted to a more unified set of applications that allows us to better leverage our data to expand service and bring efficiencies to our operations. This has required us to be more deliberate in collecting the right information and designing data structures with clear ownership across our foundational system. We are implementing governance processes and data management that will ensure that the integrity of the data remains over time, while maintaining information security in our applications, our physical data structures, and our network to protect our data. As an aviation company, one of our unique challenges is the collection and management of aircraft monitoring data. The technology and data available from the aircraft is rich, and analytics tools have become much more robust. We are continually examining ways to better utilize the data to be predictive about many different business problems.

Adapting to Change

At NetJets, delivering robust technology solutions rapidly while maintaining a secure, reliable, global, 24/7 operation has become increasingly critical. As CIO, it is my role to create an environment that brings the IT organization and its various business partners together to remain focused on what matters. To do this, the IT department must participate in the strategic and operational direction of the business, being an agent for change through technology. As the leader of the IT organization, I needed my team to implement processes and cultural changes that advance this partnership, while providing the technology leadership necessary to maintain a stable and reliable foundation. We settled on a transition to the Agile methods and made a very deliberate and concerted effort to instill a NetJets version of Agile that aligned with our environment and business. While it will always be a continuous improvement process, it has proven to be a perfect catalyst for increasing the collaboration between IT and key business areas, resulting in better and faster solutions.

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