Embracing Data Science - Airlines
The concepts of, and potential for, data science now appears to be on the radar for most large airlines. Many of our clients are either building a data science team or very seriously considering in investing in building a team.
Some of the most innovative companies, in particular those with a B2C distribution strategy, have been fast to react to the emergence of data science concepts. They have recruited the best talent from the global market, where frankly there is not enough talent to suffice. Basic business economics apply, the more scarce the resource the more one can expect to pay for it. This creates a number of challenges for the hiring airlines, in particular:
How will they attract talent that is so highly sought after by all industries? The subject expertise that data scientists offer is easily transferable across all sectors. Many of these sectors pay handsomely compared to airlines.
Data Scientists are particularly sought after by emerging technology companies who use equity and shares to incentivise loyalty. This will be tough for airlines to compete against when the upside is so significant. Fast growing companies like Uber and Airbnb are excellent examples of companies with superb analytics and data science teams.
If airlines are to attract the most enterprising data science talent by offering them a reward that is comparable to other industries then they are likely to be paid disproportionately well relative to peers in other aviation disciplines. This could be a significant Human Resource challenge.
Attrition will be a challenge. Suffice to say most data scientists are receiving very regular headhunt calls. Keeping the team happy and motivated will be crucial to managing attrition levels.
Relying on advertising as a source of credible talent will not suffice. Airlines will need to consider all avenues of attracting talent. Significant resources will need to be utilised and innovative approaches to enticing the talent to join will be important.
All this being said, there will be those out in the data science world who have a passion for travel and will ultimately become loyal to the industry. Most employees in the sector work in an airlines for reasons other than the financial reward. There will be like minded data scientists.
It will be very interesting to watch how data science affects the aviation industry. There can be little doubt that the benefits of applying data science techniques to the sector could be significant. Most airlines want to know their clients better, to understand their habits and use this information to apply more creative and efficient marketing techniques. Some of the most profitable and recognised B2C brands have stolen a march on airlines and have incredible data science methods and strategies (think Tesco and American Express); but which airlines will be the most accommodating to the data science trend?