Utilising machine learning, AI and the cloud to deliver a more personalised customer experience

Paul Armstrong, Principal Solutions Architect, Amazon Web Services: “To deliver a truly personalised travel experience, the first thing airports and airlines need to do is to extrapolate meaningful insights from all of this data to gain a deeper understanding of the customer’s journey, so that they can optimise the experience from start to finish.”

An interview with Paul Armstrong, Principal Solutions Architect, Amazon Web Services. By Marta Dimitrova

We’re going through a shift in technology that is unlike any other in our lifetime, and it’s happening at a startling pace – much faster than anybody anticipated,” says Paul Armstrong, Principal Solutions Architect, Amazon Web Services.

For over 12 years, Amazon Web Services (AWS), a dynamic, growing business unit within Amazon.com, has been one of the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platforms. AWS offers over 125 fully featured services from network analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), to Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

Trusted by millions of customers around the world, from some of the fastest-growing start-ups, such as Deliveroo, Fanduel, and Monzo Bank, and major enterprises like BP and HSBC, to government agencies, AWS helps businesses to power their infrastructure, make them more agile and lower their costs.

“The AWS cloud allows companies and organisations to focus on what really differentiates them – such as analysing petabytes of data, delivering video content, building great mobile apps or even exploring Mars – and leaves the heavy lifting of the underlying technology infrastructure to AWS. Every imaginable business segment is using AWS in a very meaningful way,” Armstrong explains.

As a Principal Solutions Architect at AWS, Armstrong works with customers on their strategic initiatives to maximise their investment and innovation. “My aim is to help customers achieve their business goals, and I particularly look at how companies in this sector can leverage their data platforms to gain new business insights using the latest machine learning and artificial intelligence services.”

Indeed, AWS’ vision is that soon more and more businesses will move the majority of their applications to the cloud. “We’re just at the beginning of this trend. So, we are going to continue to listen to customers and then deliver what they need.”

AWS already works with a number of airlines to help them make this transition to the cloud. One such airline that has taken this trend on board is Ryanair, which will be shutting down the majority of its data centres over the next three years, as it gradually starts using AWS.

As passenger numbers continue to grow, managing large volumes of data is one of the main challenges facing the air transport industry. Utilising machine learning and AI expertise are significant differentiators in supporting the growth of the air transport industry, and combined with the scale and flexibility of the cloud it allows delivery of a more personalised customer experience.

Armstrong advises that: “To deliver a truly personalised travel experience, the first thing airports and airlines need to do is to extrapolate meaningful insights from all of this data to gain a deeper understanding of the customer’s journey, so that they can optimise the experience from start to finish.”

Moving their booking systems to the cloud provides another good opportunity for airports and airlines to improve the travel experience for customers, giving them the flexibility of scale, in order to deal with peaks in traffic and increased customer demands during busy periods. “WOW air, for example, has improved uptime and performance by moving its booking engine, development platforms and web servers to AWS, resulting in the ability to deal with significant increases in traffic during big promotional campaigns.”

As for the future, Armstrong believes that voice and vision capabilities, and the change from machine-centric interfaces, such as web and mobile, to human-centric interfaces connected to IoT devices, such as the Amazon Alexa-enabled device, will become the norm for all interactions with technology. Indeed, such technologies will drive the frictionless travel experience through the airport from arrival to departure, with personalised experiences at all points of the customer journey.

“Airports are in pursuit of delivering the best customer experience. Technology will become the new concierge, with natural, secure conversational interfaces becoming the expected norm, and computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning will be fundamental to reducing passenger wait times. It’s an exciting time to be involved in the industry, as customers recognise the importance of digital transformation and the need to continue to modernise and invest in new solutions.”

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