Sunday, March 26, 2017

MobileFirst for iOS and Watson iOT Arrive in the Airline Industry

by Brenda J. Christie

An interesting article appears in the March/April 2017 print edition of IBM Systems Magazine. Entitled, "Mobile at Scale Takes Flight," it largely centers around IBM's Mobile at Scale for iOS and IBM MobileFirst for iOS offerings. Mobile at Scale is IBM's rapid design and development platform while MobileFirst for iOS is the joint venture between IBM and Apple, whereby IBM will develop industry-specific mobile applications for use on Apple iPhones, iPads, and the Apple Watch.

The article discusses Finnair's decision to deploy several mobile apps this year in its aircraft maintenance area. One of the apps to be deployed later this year by Finnair include Inspect and Turn, which will "give aircraft mechanics digital task cards and documentation... to complete work assignments." Finnair's Assign Tech app, also anticipated in 2017, will provide aircraft mechanic supervisors optimal shift assignments incorporating required skills and certifications for each maintenance task.  The app will also push notification of findings or events which could result in flight delays so that measures to minimize such events can be taken quickly. 

Another aspect of this article that caught my attention is the market in which this particular technology is being deployed, mainly, Enterprise Asset Management (EAM). Although the MobileFirst for iOS app can integrate with existing systems, it can also integrate with IBM's 2006 EAM acquisition, Maximo.  The potential of increasing Maximo revenue, while developing patented industry-specific mobile apps (another source of revenue), increasing service-related revenue does exist.  Additionally, the apps will be hosted and managed on IBM Cloud leading to another source of revenue for IBM.

Leaders in the field of EAM software, to name a few, include:

  • Infor EAM
  • IBM Maximo
  • SAP Enterprise Asset Management
  • Oracle Asset Management

The 2016 joint venture between IBM and Apple includes integration of IBM Watson cognitive capabilities within MobileFirst for iOS. Watson's cognitive capabilities include Natural Language Processing (NLP) which will facilitate speech recognition.  An example of how this could be used in the Finnair maintenance crew scenario would be the mechanic asking the app the correct wrench to use for a particular maintenance task.

United Airlines has also recently partnered with IBM to develop a mobile app, similar to a CRM, which would provide flight attendants information on customer preferences such as seating, meal preference, flight arrival gates.

Bye for now,

Brenda J. Christie