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EL AL ISRAEL AIRLINES: THE ‘SMART AIRLINE’ OF THE STARTUP NATION


IT'S NOT JUST AN AIRLINE. IT'S ISRAEL

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EL AL ISRAEL AIRLINE NAVIGATING DIGITAL T TO BECOME A ‘SMART WRITTEN BY

AMBER DONOVAN-STEVENS

PRODUCED BY

K ANE WELLER


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ES: TRANSFORMATION AIRLINE’ w w w.e la l. com


EL AL ISRAEL AIRLINES

SHAHAR MARKOVITCH, THE CHIEF DIGITAL AND INFORMATION OFFICER OF EL AL ISRAEL AIRLINES, EXPLAINS HOW THE ADOPTION OF AI AND DATA ANALYTICS IS STRENGTHENING EL AL AS THE ‘SMART AIRLINE’ OF THE STARTUP NATION.

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L AL is Israel’s national airline, boasting close to 6mn customers a year and US$2bn in annual revenue. Before joining

EL AL as the airline’s Chief Digital and Information Officer, Shahar Markovitch was the Chief Digital 04

Officer of Bank Hapoalim, one of Israel’s largest banks. Prior to that, he was a partner of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, and as such brings experience of shaping the digital strategy and leading digital and IT transformations of organisations all over the world. A little over a year ago, Markovitch brought this expertise to EL AL to assist in the creation of a new division that combines IT and digital to drive the technological transformation of the company. Markovitch begins by sharing that there are two key disruptions in the airline industry today. The first is “the digital airline, which is a combination of both new business models like the low-cost carrier model with new open sky regulation.” Secondly, he adds that “the customer is becoming more digital”, with access to dozens of options for booking their flight. Yet Markovitch also says that there is a new


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EL AL ISRAEL AIRLINES

revolution hurtling towards the airline

airlines are one of the industries to

industry: the ‘smart airline’ revolution

benefit most from AI and machine

- major disruption fueled by a combina-

learning technologies,” he says.

tion of data and machine learning.

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“When we built our strategy for EL AL’s

A key component of a smart airline

technology and digital transformation,

is the ability to leverage AI, machine

we realised that we need to win in these

learning and analytics to deliver a better,

two fronts at the same time. On the one

more personalised customer experi-

hand, we had to fully transition to a

ence, drive revenues and profitability,

‘digital airline’ to remain competitive,

and improve operational efficiency.

on the other hand, we must build capa-

“According to research, due to the

bilities for becoming a smart airline

massive complexity of the business,

in order to remain ahead of the next


CLICK TO WATCH : ‘EL AL ISRAEL AIRLINES: MILESSTONES’ 07

disruption.” EL AL also realised that one of its main differentiators in the technology space is the fact that it is the airline of

native” capabilities in its day to day life? 3. How do we make ELAL’s “IT factory” a competitive differentiator?

the ‘startup nation,’ being immersed in ecosystems in the world. This gave birth

1. IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY AND ROADMAP FOR THE ‘SMART AIRLINE’

to its vision of becoming the smart airline

EL AL started with defining a clear

of the startup nation.

roadmap on how technology as a

one of the most vibrant tech and startup

To achieve this vision, the company

whole will transform the company.

defined a transformation plan centered

“This is what our business should

around the following questions:

look like in the future across all areas

1. How will technology affect every aspect of our airline operations? 2. How will EL AL infuse “digital

of operation, from front to back – anything from having leading digital websites all the way through having w w w.e la l. com


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automated back-end operations to

nance of its planes. As components to

dynamic and smart routing and giving

planes are expensive, aircraft are

our employees better smart digital

regularly maintained. Every few

tools,” says Markovitch. Given the

months each plane is taken apart and

importance of operational excellence

reassembled again to inspect all of its

for airlines, a large part of the roadmap

components. To manage this, Marko-

addressed these areas. For example,

vitch explains, EL AL has implemented

one of the areas where EL AL sees

a system designed by Swiss Aviation

huge potential for leveraging technology

called AMOS, which digitised the

to transform operations is the mainte-

end-to-end maintenance process.

E XE CU T I VE PRO FI LE

Shahar Markovitch Shahar Markovitch is Chief Digital and Information Officer of EL AL Israel Airlines as of March 2018. Shahar joins El Al from Bank Hapoalim, Israel’s largest bank, where he served as Chief Digital Officer, responsible for digital strategy and roadmap, customer experience, digital platforms, and all digital related projects. As part of his role there, Shahar launched a number of award winning digital products, including bit, Israel’s largest p2p payment app. Previously he was a partner in McKinsey & Company, focusing on digital, technology, and innovation, and leading digital transformations for the world’s leading organisations. Before McKinsey, Shahar held technology and leadership positions in a number of Israeli high-tech startups and Partner communication. Shahar holds a Bachelor of Science degree with distinction in Computer Science and Math from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a Master in Business Administration from MIT in Cambridge, USA with a 5.0/5.0 GPA. He was recognised as Israel top 100 inf luential people in digital for 2017.

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EL AL ISRAEL AIRLINES

“A KEY COMPONENT OF A SMART AIRLINE IS THE ABILITY TO LEVERAGE AI, MACHINE LEARNING AND ANALYTICS TO IMPROVE THE AIRLINE WITH THE EXTRACTED DATA” 12

— Shahar Markovitch, Chief Digital and Information Officer, El Al Israel


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EL AL ISRAEL AIRLINES

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C O M PA N Y FACT S

• One terabyte of data is generated from every flight” • EL AL is Israel’s national airline boasting close to 6mn customers a year, and US$2bn in annual revenue


EL AL is also extending this system to create a fully paperless maintenance process where all of the ground technicians will use tablets for maintenance activities. Another example is end-to-end management of finances and process management. “We are working with SAP to digitise, automate and create the technology backbone for our entire finance and procurement operations, including some of our warehouse management activities,” says Markovitch. This allows agreater streamlining of operations, saving time and money.

2. INFUSING “DIGITAL NATIVE” CAPABILITIES IN THE DAY TO DAY LIFE OF THE AIRLINE As part of the transformation, EL AL is focusing on embedding “digital native” capabilities that are a must have for every company operating in the digital age in the areas of customer experience, digital platforms, and data and analytics. “We start with customer experience, and how our plan fits with the end to end customer journey,” Markovitch explains. “It’s about how we leverage methodologies like design thinking to drive the actual value w w w.e la l. com

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$2.1.bn Approximate revenue (USD)

business makes, and using insights to increase profitability. These capabilities work together to deliver innovative digital products to EL AL’s customers. For example, customer

1948

Year founded

6,000

Approximate number of employees

research showed that one of the issues for customers traveling abroad is the cost of a taxi to the airport. As a response, EL AL developed an innovative digital platform called “Taxi Pool”. This is one of the first services of its kind, designed to facilitate sharing taxis for customers who travel from the airport to the same hotel or hotels in close proximity. The system connects people who are

proposition that we offer our customers

taking the same flight, matching up

as part of our overall transformation

groups who can pool a taxi to save

roadmap.” Then EL AL considers its

money. This service is provided by EL

digital platforms, which includes not

AL to customers all over the world, no

only upgrading its digital channels but

matter what airline they are using.

also transforming the way the company

These capabilities are further

thinks of and develops these channels,

accelerated by implementing startup

moving from “a project view of the world,

technology solutions. One example is

to a product view of the world” with the

a hybrid chatbot EL AL launched to

aspiration of operating like a “native

assist customers, which can be

digital player”. The last value multiplier is

accessed through WhatsApp or

leveraging data and advanced analytics,

Facebook Messenger. The hybrid bot

which Markovitch says is essentially

mixes state of the art AI with human

managing data as an asset, embedding

support. Should the bot be unable to

data-driven tools into every decision the

provide a solution to the customer, w w w.e la l. com

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AMOS. AGAIN.

AMOS, the world-class M&E software solution, supports EL AL’s vision to become a paperless company. Swiss-AS recognizes EL AL as one of the early adopters when it comes to digitizing and then later digitalizing all maintenance processes. EL AL is a customer that is investing a lot of effort in fully understanding the potential that lies in AMOS and exploiting it to the maximum.

“ Implementing AMOS in our organization enabled us to have end to end solution with full transparency of M&E processes & costs. We can now better control the work in all our departments, improve our inventory management and establish better automated connections to our customers and suppliers. AMOS enables us to constantly improve our processes to be lean & efficient.” EL AL’s Department Manager SW implementation in M&E

SWISS-AS.COM

member of the support team, without

3. TURNING THE IT FACTORY TO A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

the customer ever needing to be aware

Markovitch highlights that the third pillar

of this shift. Another example of a

of the company’s digital transformation

digital platform that combines data and

is upgrading its technology factory. This

analytics with advanced data analytics

focuses on transforming the entire

is Bid2Fly. This solution uses data

technology stack to enable faster time

analytics to analyse low sale flights

to market and greater flexibility while

and combine that with the buying

ensuring resilience and security in

patterns of a customer. If a customer is

everything EL AL does. Part of this

unlikely to buy a flight, they have the

includes moving towards a more agile

opportunity to save up to 50% on a

way of working and changing the

flight by bidding on it at auction that

software architecture and infrastructure.

may not have sold at all otherwise.

In this activity as well, the focus is on

there is a seamless connection to a


bringing business value and competitive

flexibility the business demands.

advantage through the technology

EL AL has also implemented a Big Data

factory. For example, “How do we

solution based on Cloudera. “The

enable better services for our custom-

queues, the various dates, and the

ers through API and open systems?

analytics we run on the Cloudera

What value can we bring by accelerating

infrastructure are to decide what kind of

our move to the cloud, and how will the

marketing message we should provide,

automation of our IT operation improve

and how to better appeal to each

our customer satisfaction?”

customer,” he explains.

When faced with the goal of creating a

As EL AL looks to the future,

more personalised customer experience

Markovitch says that there is already a

using its Adobe marketing automation

lot in the pipeline. After a recent upgrade

solution, the focus was on finding a

to the mobile app, the company has

solution that could process large

launched a new website, which will

amounts of data but also provide the

improve upon customer engagement and allow customers to access and better understand their frequent traveller miles. Additionally, the airline is acquiring new planes, including the Dreamliner 787, which are being equipped with Wi-Fi. “Overall, we’re going through quite a lot of changes and technology is a vital part of these changes.” With a clear path set, it is without a doubt that EL AL will continue to strengthen its position as the ‘smart airline’ of the startup nation.

IT'S NOT JUST AN AIRLINE. IT'S ISRAEL

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El Al Israel Airlines www.elal.com

Profile for Business Chief Middle East

El Al Israel Airlines August 2019  

El Al Israel Airlines August 2019