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Culture is a key element within an airport’s digital transformation

05 March 2020

Managing an airport was simpler in the past. Overall, an airport in 2020 is not that much different from one in 1970, however when looking specifically at the behind-the-scenes operations, things have definitely changed.

Airport operations have changed significantly and this will most definitely continue in the coming years. Innovation is fuelling that change and airports are transforming into digital smart locations. Providing passengers with a more seamless experience while improving the levels of safety and security in a more data-driven environment, airports are implementing procedures such as self check in and baggage drop, 3D security scans, paperless border control and autonomous vehicles.

Decision makers within our industry are experiencing a more rapid change, especially those who have been working within the industry for decades. The speed of change is only going to increase as airports become smarter, data-driven and autonomous. To be able to adapt with these changes and efficiently use them, airport decision makers need to focus on people, processes, technology and – most importantly – culture.

While a solid digital strategy is an important element for a digital transformation, the right culture is needed to be able to execute the strategy. Research by McKinsey, Capgemini, Bain and others have shown that a lack of strong culture is the main hindrance to success. However, C-level executives and senior managers often think that technology is the most important element, resulting in companies investing heavily in technology with the belief that the right tool will fix all problems, without investing in people, processes and culture. What often occurs is technology is then pushed to employees who are not open to adapting; resulting in heavy delays and an inefficient use of resources. This frequently creates a mindset that avoids risk based on unsuccessful attempts in the past and is less flexible to adapting to change.

Aviation must break down the industry’s silos

One of the main barriers to a successful digital transformation are silos. Silos are more than a structural issue; they create a culture with narrow-minded employees who hesitate to share information or collaborate across functions and departments. They create an environment with less transparency, where there are less organisation-wide initiatives and where employees are focused on tasks within their own department, rather than improving the processes organisation wide.

We work within an industry where breaking down silos is necessary. Our core processes go beyond silos: The process of passenger handling involves multiple departments such as safety and security, facilities, communications, marketing and IT. For innovation to succeed efficiently and effectively, silos need to be broken down so that the focus is on the core processes and how innovations can improve each step.

Understand the digital transformation process

In November 2018, Rotterdam The Hague Airport was the first airport in the world to use autonomous vehicles to improve the baggage handling process. This replaced the need for fixed conveyors and sorting systems as individual autonomous vehicles carried single luggage items along the most optimal route, with real-time tracking.

While this was ground breaking in the aviation industry, similar innovations have been around for years. Amazon and Alibaba warehouses have been using hundreds of autonomous vehicles to carry, route and track individual orders.

I believe that in our industry, the focus is not necessarily to become a disruptor, as regulation does not allow us to be fully disruptive. It is important to become a fast follower of innovations that improve the journey within an airport’s core processes: Processes such as passenger handling, luggage handling, ground handling and so on. All these operations need to be systematised into process schemes and with every step of the process we need to focus on what innovations are available to be used to the improve the journey. To be able to do that, a strong culture is needed to allow the environment to innovate, to experiment, to fail, and to learn from those failures. It needs leadership with a strong vision that can make decisions whilst understanding the full process and the impact those decisions make on the process chain. It needs employees to understand that what they are doing affects the process and is part of a bigger picture and goal.

Digital transformation tips

  • Break down the silos
  • Have a clear digital vision with the leadership team involved and communicate it to all employees and partners
  • Be customer centric
  • Define what innovation means to your organisation
  • Give people decision-making power not based on seniority, but based on strengths
  • Set up a journey for a cultural change and engage employees in that change
  • Empower employees to drive a digital culture and make sure they have the time, space and resources to grow and improve their skills
  • Have additional KPI’s that focus on behaviour
  • Start by mapping process schemes and with every step of the process make sure management and other employees understand the change.

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«March 2020»

Five on the Fly: Urbantz with Byron Dunne

Urbantz general manager for UK, Ireland & Northern Europe Byron Dunne answers Linkline’s ‘Five on the Fly’ about some the challenges and future of his sector.

What have the challenges been in your sector?

Tradition and more importantly lack of risk taking. The logistics industry is very traditional and to an extent risk averse. Many of the more important roles within the larger organisations change hands between the same people. Thus a very challenging environment to implement change as naturally these profiles bring the knowledge and tradition they have been used t,oo from one company to the next, thus inhibiting change.

This is a major roadblock for innovation as not many of these individuals have the experience to implement game changing strategies, and when they do they put the job on the line as margins are tight, volumes are growing and resources are restricted.

How did you/the organisation adapt? 

Education. We are in contact with C-Level Logistics and Supply Chain management throughout Europe. Opinions differ in each country together with legislation. Certain countries are very open to finding and testing new strategies to stay ahead of the game, or at least keep up with the game, others are experts at identifying problems, complaining about them and not executing any plans.

We try to find common ground by advising these individuals and providing them with the technology they need should they decide to execute a plan of action. The media has created a lot of noise about what is trendy and what sells clicks, but the reality is that the majority of what the press predicts as the future of last mile is not relevant for the next 5 years. It’s important to cut through the noise, stick to the vision and push for change.

What lessons did you learn/ are you learning from this?

The last mile goes well beyond the walls of the Supply Chain and Logistics offices. The customer is having more and more influence on what the future of logistics will hold.

Logistics is no longer an isolated department that sources goods, operates fleets and manages operations. It has now become one of the most important elements in creating a brand, maintaining customer relationships and ensuring sales

What advice can you give based on your experience in this area thus far?

Embrace new ideas, new innovation and take some risks. Amazon has built a more efficient supply chain than the vast majority of traditional retailers and transport operators in the space of 10 years. It’s not magic, it’s forward thinking, disrupting and innovating that has put them where they are today.

What does the future hold?

Urban logistics is changing rapidly.  Consumer behaviour is also changing rapidly. Logistics processes, strategy and technology are not changing as quickly as they should be. The future is quite bleak for companies that are not embracing change  and they will be left behind.

For more information about Urbantz please visit their website

The post Five on the Fly: Urbantz with Byron Dunne appeared first on Linkline Journal - Ireland.

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Working Remotely

Dear  Members and Trainees ,

As the advice regarding the containment and delay phases for the Coronavirus continues to develop daily, I would like to assure all customers and partners of the continuity of our service.

Due to the cloud-based nature of our key systems, we will be working remotely  for the forceable future . This means that there should be no disruption to the availability of the scheduled ADR Exams for the following date: Naas 20 March 2020 and Galway 26 March 2020. Future information will be available  in due course. 

As always, we remain committed to our trainees  and members  with our high level of customer service. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates appropriately and promptly.

If you have any queries at all, please don't hesitate to contact the Institute by email at 

Many thanks

Mick Curran 


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Central Bank of Ireland: Expectations of Insurers during COVID 19 Crisis

  • Insurers must put forward consumer-focused solutions on policy payment breaks, rebates and claims 
  • While most insurance policies are clear, if  there is a doubt about the meaning of a term, the interpretation most favourable to the consumer should prevail
  • The Central Bank expects the CEOs of Irish authorised firms to take responsibility for the oversight of how their firm is managing determinations of whether claims are covered or not in the context of COVID-19.

The Central Bank of Ireland has today set out its expectations of how regulated insurance firms should treat their customers in light of the significant economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The Central Bank has written to the Chairs and CEOs of both life and general insurance firms requiring them to take account of the challenging situation in which many of their customers find themselves and to put forward consumer-focused solutions for insurance payment breaks, policy rebates and claims in light of the emergency.

Where a claim can be made because a business has closed as a result of a Government direction due to contagious or infectious disease, the Central Bank is of the view that that the recent Government advice to close a business in the context of COVID-19 should be treated as a direction.  This is a view that has also been set out by the Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform.  Firms must ensure that claims are appropriately assessed and where there is insurance cover in place that claims are accepted and paid promptly.

Where relevant, firms must proactively communicate in a clear, transparent manner to customers about the levels of cover provided by individual insurance policies including informing them, when renewing existing policies, if there are any changes to those policies arising from COVID-19. 

Firms must ensure that their customer-facing functions are adequately resourced to ensure that customer needs are met and queries are handled in an appropriate timeframe and that they have processes in place to engage positively with customers who are experiencing difficulties in the payment of premiums as a result of COVID-19.

Firms must also engage with their intermediaries and partners to keep them fully informed at all times about the implications of COVID-19 for existing and new policies.
In relation to insurance claims, firms must ensure that they are fully compliant with the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code 2012 and all other relevant regulatory requirements. Any claim settlement offer made to a claimant must be fair, must take into account all relevant factors and must represent the firm’s best estimate of the claimant’s reasonable entitlement under the policy.

Firms must ensure that they handle claims effectively and properly and where appropriate to do so they must offer to assist their customers in the process of making a claim, including, where relevant, alerting the claimant to policy terms and conditions that may be of benefit to the claimant. Although the Central Bank expects that  most policy wordings are clear in terms of what cover is provided and what is excluded, where there is a doubt about the meaning of a term, the interpretation most favourable to the consumer should prevail.

In the case of Irish authorised insurance

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