Using the latest cutting-edge technologies that allow its employees to provide better service to customers no matter where they are or what situation they face — that’s the underlying philosophy behind United Airlines’ bold new mobile strategy, an approach that earned the carrier a coveted spot on this year’s list of CIO 100 Award winners.
Over the past few years, United has invested heavily in mobility, untethering a large percentage of their workforce and enabling them to better perform their duties on the move. There are currently 60,000 devices in the hands of United’s employees around the world, each one equipped with a variety of applications designed to solve problems that customers encounter when traveling.
“This recognition is the culmination of a massive team effort, in terms of research, development and rollout, intended to revolutionize how our employees interact with customers,” said Jason Birnbaum, United’s vice president of operations technology, one of the leaders responsible for the company’s mobility push. “One of our aims was to take our agents from behind their podiums and put them out into the terminals, where they could do things like change seat assignments, re-book passengers and print luggage tags right where the customers are. A re-booking transaction that would have taken 10 minutes under the old, stationary system now takes less than two. And those are just some of the many examples of ways we are making the day-of-travel experience better.”
Perhaps most notably, United is the only airline with employee mobile devices that are both Wi-Fi and cellular-enabled, giving them a valuable contingency plan when technical outages occur. And with its own in-house development shop turning out custom apps, United is uniquely positioned to better serve its customers and employees through mobility. Most recently, many of the technicians at the airline’s seven hubs began using iPads to perform some of their checks, significantly improving the speed in which they can clear an aircraft once repairs are completed. Those tools will soon roll out to all of United’s airports, meaning significant reductions in maintenance downtime.